I have been anticipating the release of “The Hate U Give” in theaters for months now since reading the book. I’m happy to say it exceeded my expectations as far as casting, script and overall progression of the story. George Tillman Jr. did this captivating book justice, bringing it to life on the big screen.
For those who are unfamiliar with the story, “The Hate U Give” follows the angsty teen Starr Carter, who is split between two worlds, one being her predominantly white, affluent private school and the other her poor, black neighborhood — Garden Heights. For the most part, she is able to keep the two versions of herself separate, attend classes and play basketball at her white school and party on the weekends in her hood. One night after a party in Garden Heights, she and her childhood friend, Khalil Harris, are driving home when they are pulled over by the cops. After a long, nail-biting encounter with the police, the cop shoots and kills Khalil, mistaking his hairbrush for a gun.
This is not a one-sided “f— the police” narrative. In fact, we learn soon after Khalil is killed that Starr’s uncle is a cop. In one scene, Starr and her uncle exchange a conversation where he explains what the encounter might have been like from the cop’s perspective. He says that it’s late at night and he likely didn’t have backup. He could have been worried about the girl in the car, was she being kidnapped or abused? He goes on to say he might’ve shot too.
Starr counters her uncle with a hypothetical situation — if the driver was white and was in a Mercedes, would he have shot then? He argues that it’s part of the world we live in. He later realizes that black people should not be shot for being black.
“The Hate U Give” sheds light on the truth of Black America beyond police brutality. The movie even goes as far as to touch on violence occurring within black communities with gangs and drug lords. This is not just the story of the hate white people give, but the hate instilled in black people against one another as well.
Starr is drawn toward activism after witnessing her friend’s unjust murder just as we are called to speak for the real-life loss of so many black lives in America. While “Justice for Khalil Harris” is a fictional protest, we hear “Justice for Sandra Bland,” “Justice for Trayvon Martin,” “Justice for Eric Garner.” Give it a watch, you’ll hear it too.