This will contain spoilers for the book/movie The Hate U Give.
I just finished reading the Hate U Give. Well, I finished it yesterday, but there are a lot of pieces of the book that have required me to really sit and contemplate what it means to me. The Hate U Give is about a young black woman, Starr, who witnesses the murder of her friend Khalil, and she has to decide how she goes on. Does she remain silent? Does she tell her story? Does she tell her friends at her majority white school who could never understand? I’m not going to give away a lot of the story, but there are some things that really resonated with me.
I will start off saying that had I read this book even 5 years ago, my reaction would be totally different.
First off is Khalil’s death. The way that the police treated Khalil, literally doing nothing wrong, asking why he was pulled over, was ridiculous. An realistic. The way that the media and the police treated Khalil after his death was heartbreaking. The way that Cruz’s (the cop) dad was able to go on and give an interview about how his son was a good boy was way too realistic. We, as a society, raise up those who look like the majority, and shame the others. They made Khalil out to be a gangbanger, that he was a drug dealer (which was true), but he had nothing on him. That he was going to kill the cop, which is utter bullshit. The way that everyone other than Starr and her neighbors responded was heartbreaking.
Secondly is Starr’s friend Haley. We all surround ourselves with people who could be beneficial or detrimental to our lives, and Haley proves herself to be detrimental. She makes racist remarks repeatedly, and doesn’t own up to them. She jokes about racial matters, but gets mad when everyone reacts. She unfollows Starr’s tumblr because Starr, a black girl, posted about Emmett Till, and showed her picture. I know so many people who are Haleys, and very few who are Starrs. That should be reversed.
Third is when Starr’s father was confronted by the police. He was trying to help his neighbor, who had just snitched on a local drug lord, and needed to get some sense talked into him. When the police pulled him over, since he was a younger black man, even though one of the police were black, they immediately reacted as if he were a thug. They forced him on the ground, and only let up when they realized the neighborhood was watching them and would fight for him.
Finally, the race dynamic between Starr and her boyfriend Chris. Starr is black, and Chris is white. This is the same for my girlfriend and I. She is black, and I am white. And I don’t care about that. However, she has taught me a lot. I remember when the protests in Berkeley were happening, that turned into small riots, I called her, scared, as I was in Berkeley with no way home, and she told me that they were rioting because their voices weren’t being heard. When Starr tells Chris the same thing, I remembered this event. The same night in the book, Chris asks Starr and her brother and their friend why black people have such weird names. I’ve thought the same thing in the past, and when they respond it’s only weird to him because he’s not used to it, it clicked for me. My normal is not everyone’s normal. My experiences are not everyone’s experiences.
I’m glad that I read this book now, and not when it came out. I don’t think it would have have the same impact on me. I don’t think that I could have appreciated it the way that I do now. I highly recommend reading it, and, if you do, let me know what you think.