The Review U Give

Movie adaptation of Angie Thomas book highlights prominent issues in some African American communities



KEEP CALM AND READ ON: Senior Cassie Yohler reads The Hate U Give during her study period. Yohler has read the novel before, but is revisiting the text after recently seeing the movie.

The Hate U Give”, directed by George Tillman Jr., is an adaptation of the young-adult novel written in 2017 by Angie Thomas. The book started as a short story project that Thomas began after news of the police-action shooting in 2009 of Oscar Grant in Oakland, California. She pushed the project aside but continued the work after the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, and Sandra Bland.

The film, which closely aligns with the novel, is about the life of an African American teenager named Starr Carter. She lives a double-life between her poor, mostly black neighborhood and Williamson Prep, her wealthy, mostly white prep school. Starr has kept her two lives from crossing until witnessing the shooting of her childhood friend, Khalil, by a white police officer.

The incident quickly becomes the talk of the town and is covered widely in the news. However, the details are twisted, as the police officer falsely states that Khalil was aggressive and armed, and newscasters only refer to him as a drug dealer. Starr, although she at first denies knowing Khalil to fit in at her school, finds her voice, despite the pressures from both her white friends and her African American family members. It is up to Starr, the only witness, to stand up for what is right and give a voice to someone who no longer has one.

“The Hate U Give” continued to be a box office hit during the fall season, filling the reclining seats of theaters. Personally, I believe that the movie is revolutionary for this time period. Similar to how “To Kill A Mockingbird” represented the racial issues of its time, “The Hate U Give” brings that same attention to issues now. Police brutality and poverty are real matters that affect the whole nation but especially the African American community.

Khalil’s character embodies what Thomas views as significant problems in many black communities today. And although Thomas portrays only one perspective of our flawed society, there is no denying the facts. The correlation between drugs and poverty are real issues as well as the mistreatment of minorities on the part of some police.

The Century Foundation, one of the oldest public policy research institutes in the country, states that the number of very-high-poverty neighborhoods has, in fact, increased dramatically since 2000. About three-fourth of minorities live in such neighborhoods.

Due to such destitution, some people turn to drugs, which is exactly what Khalil did to pay off his mother’s debt. Selling drugs, to people in a position similar to Khalil’s, is an attractive way to make money fast, especially for people with a criminal history who find it difficult to be hired. Without jobs or only low-income jobs, selling drugs is seen as an option for some.

In the movie, Khalil is killed without attacking or trying to intimidate the officer. In a 2016 study by the news outlet Vox, 39 percent of African Americans killed in a police-action shooting were reported to have been killed without attacking the officer. Victims from more than 60 percent of police-action shootings were unarmed minorities.

In addition to statistics, there are often news stories depicting such events. On Nov. 26, 2018, African American Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. was wrongfully shot and killed at the Riverchase Galleria Mall in Hoover, Ala., when officers responding to an active shooter mistakenly thought Bradford was the gunman. He had a license to carry his handgun, which was visibly kept in his waistband.

Days later, the police retracted their statement saying Bradford was not the shooter, and that the true shooter is at large. The real shooter, Erron Martez Dequan Brown, was arrested in Georgia on Nov. 29, 2018. A man who had tried to usher unprotected shoppers out of harm’s way is now a victim due to racial profiling.

Despite these statistics and real-life instances, it is important to realize that most officers do not act out on their biases. Some either can dissociate their bias from their job, while others are not biased towards others due to their ethnicity. But those who do act with bias cause great harm to both individuals and dishonor the policing profession. This movie offered non-minority teens a glimpse of what it is like to be a young black man suspected of a crime.

Overall, “The Hate U Give” effectively spreads awareness on issues in our country today. I would recommend watching the movie, but make sure to read the book first.