This entry contains strong language, descriptions of violence, and spoilers for the novel The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
For the past few weeks, as part of my African Studies class at Wright State, we read the novel and watched the movie, The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. In short, the story follows a Black family and their experiences with police racism and brutality. At a traffic stop, a White officer shoots and kills a teenager thinking he was grabbing a gun, but it instead was a hairbrush. The story follows the immense struggle / tragedy, the complications faced in the drug cartel (often seen as the only means of survival by minorities in a White world), racism among friends, the duality of a relationship between a White and Black individual, and more.
I am usually not that into reading literature. But The Hate U Give is one of my favorite books I have read. While the story is fictional, it is a very realistic example of what many Black and minority families go through, especially regarding the police and gangs. The story shed a lot of light to me on why people might turn to cartels and gangs and what they go through after a tragedy via police brutality. The story also teaches a valuable lesson on the power of one’s voice as a weapon of protest and justice.
The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone.Tupac Shakur (2Pac)
The title of the story itself, “The Hate U Give”, plays off of the word “thug”. And Tupac famously explained the meaning of “thug life” by saying, “The Hate You Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone.” The story explores Tupac’s interpretation of “thug life” explaining that what we teach our kids, or others’ kids, especially systemically, can fuck all of us (karma, and also considering kids will often mimic our behaviors and values).
This story struck several cords in me. As a White person assigned male at birth, I have the privilege of not being subject to many of the oppressive systems, dangers, and tragedies my friends of minority groups do. While this story deepened my understanding of systemic racism, I will never truly understand others’ challenges since I do not face them. The story has intensified my appreciation for the Black, Jamaican, and Trans* / LGBTQA+ friends as well as friends of other minority groups I have, especially for the strength they have and the wisdom they gained through their experiences. And I also appreciate that the story touched on the ignorant “I do not see color” trope / microaggression White people often use. As Starr (the main protagonist) puts it in the movie, “If you don’t see my blackness, you don’t see me.”
I would highly recommend checking out this novel and reading it. It has been on the New York Time’s number 1 Bestseller. It is also a controversial book banned by some schools and libraries for its content. While I disagree with banning this book as it teaches many important lessons and values, I also must caution that one of the book’s golden gems is its deep, personal exploration of difficult themes. Therefore, it does contain several sensitive themes and strong language. I believe, however, that the real, unfiltered, emotional nature of the novel and its ability to personalize the political brings a level of understanding it otherwise could not bring.
Image is a cover shot of the book as seen on Amazon.