If You Haven’t Watched The Hate U Give Yet, What Are You Doing?

October 19th marked the release of the highly anticipated The Hate U Give. Based on the novel by Angie Thomas, this film stars Amandla Stenberg as Starr Carter, a young girl torn between living in Garden Heights, a poor and mostly black neighborhood, and studying at a predominantly white high school, Williamson Prep. As Starr explains in the beginning of the movie:

“Williamson is another world, so when I’m here I’m Starr version two. Basically, Williamson Starr doesn’t give anyone a reason to call her ghetto, and I hate myself for doing it, until the weekend comes around.”

But when her childhood friend, Khalil, gets shot by a police officer who mistakes his hair brush for a weapon, Starr can’t keep her worlds apart any longer.

 

Photo via 20th Century Fox

First off, spoiler alert: this movie is incredible.

Angie Thomas deserves all the praise for this story. While incredibly relevant, The Hate U Give tells a story that hasn’t been represented in the mainstream media. Many black people can feel for Stenberg’s character and relate to her need of downplaying her blackness in an environment that doesn’t accept it. This movie starts off strong with Starr’s father, played by Russell Hornsby who previously starred in Lincoln Heights and Grimm, giving his children the “talk” — not about sex, but the steps to take whenever they’re faced with a police officer.

Another aspect The Hate U Give brilliantly showcases is the not-outright-racist racists. Starr’s best friend and basketball teammate, Hailey, is introduced as someone who would be Starr’s ally. Played by Sabrina Carpenter, she later participates in a protest for Khalil, pointing out to Starr that they both need to do it for “[their] people”. However, as the movie progresses, we can see that Hailey is just a rich white girl who likes to act black to feel cool. It’s “our people” to an extent for her, something Starr points out when Hailey sympathizes with the police officer who shot Khalil.

Similarly, when Starr’s boyfriend tells her that “he doesn’t see color”, a phrase black people are tired of hearing, Starr immediately shuts him down. “If you don’t see color then you don’t see me.”

Photo via 20th Century Fox

The brilliant thing about The Hate U Give, in my opinion, is that it’s tragically real. There are no antagonists, just complex characters with different life experiences. No right decisions, just choices Starr has to make following Khalil’s death. And sadly, no justice for Khalil. Instead, he is remembered by Starr and the community of Garden Heights, and the raw reality of his death.