By: Chris Parris
In the Fall of 2018, moviegoers flocked to theaters in order to watch The Hate U Give. The Hate U Give, adapted from the best-selling novel of the same name, is about Starr Carter, an African American teenager who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend Khalil at the hands of a [white] policeman. Amandla Stenberg (Everything, Everything) leads an all-star cast that includes KJ Apa (Riverdale), Algee Smith (Detroit), Regina Hall (Girls Trip), Sabrina Carpenter (Girl Meets World), Anthony Mackie (The Avengers Series), and Grammy Award-winning rapper Common.
Starr leads a double life in two separate environments: a girl growing up in crime-ridden Garden Heights, and a girl going to a predominantly-white private school in an upper-scale neighborhood. These two lives eventually collide. Since Starr is the only witness to Khalil’s death, she is talked into speaking publicly about what she saw. One of the residents in Garden Heights, King, is a drug dealer and gang leader whom Khalil was working for on the side. When Starr specifically mentions the gang in a television interview that is aired nationwide, the safety of her family is threatened.
The death of Khalil Harris stands for dozens of incidents in which unarmed African American men and women are gunned down by police officers. After getting pulled over by a [white] policeman, Khalil is told to step out of his car. Starr, who is in the passenger seat, witnesses Khalil getting shot three times after reaching back into the car for a hairbrush. That’s right. A hairbrush. Unfortunately, the policeman thought that Khalil was reaching back into his car in order to grab a gun. And as a civil rights activist who attended Khalil’s funeral pointed out, “Violence…brutality…it’s the same story, just a different name!”
This movie dives into the reason why people in inner cities turn to drug dealing. Since there are limited, high-paying job opportunities in most inner cities in America, many people sell drugs in order to get paid a decent amount of money. And when these drug dealers get arrested, prisons benefit. Also, this movie showcases the daily struggles of African Americans who live in inner city ghettos across America.
The civil unrest that takes place during the movie’s climax has an uncanny resemblance to the Ferguson Unrest of 2014. At nighttime, heavily-armed policemen shoot tear gas and rubber bullets into a crowd of protestors. Garden Heights would go on to resemble a war zone with its looted businesses, torched buildings, and streets littered with debris.
What most may not know about The Hate U Give is its connection to Tupac Shakur. The rapper had the words “Thug Life” tattooed on his chest in capitalized letters. Tupac explained that ‘Thug Life’ means “The Hate U Give Little Infants F*** Everybody”. The book expands the meaning of the term as well: “Pac said Thug Life stood for ‘The Hate U Give Little Infants F*** Everybody’. T-H-U-G-L-I-F-E. Meaning what society gives us as youth, it bites them in the ass when we wild out. Get it?”
The Hate U Give has been praised by audiences and movie critics alike. This movie has won 17 awards and received an additional 22 nominations. Amanda Sternberg’s portrayal of Starr Carter was one of the main praises that movie critics gave. Most recently, Sternberg won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture. The film’s pacing, storyline, characters, and it’s faithfulness to the book has also been the subject of praise.
Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars