Warning: this article contains spoilers about "The Hate U Give."
The reality of today is sadly lined with increased cases of police brutality against the black community. There's still a rift between races. Although some might say we are equal, color runs deep within society's roots and remains as impactful as it did when the black community fought centuries ago for freedom, for their political voice and for their equality. If I've learned anything as a witness of today's events, it is that although the fight may have changed to fit different causes, it is the same fight. Lasting throughout the millennia, it is evident that the black community is still facing the same racism, the same discrimination and negative views from society: whether it be trying to fit ideal European beauty standards to lacking their representation on screen.
This is exactly why "The Hate U Give" stands out above all others.
Not only did it address these faults within society, but it did so bluntly. As brutal the attacks are against the black community today, so did this movie attack viewers just as violently — uprooting deep issues in society, almost like a rallying cry for the start of a revolution. This movie not only produced a great story, but it dug deep and cut deep, speaking not only to its teenage audience but also to the higher generation, the upcoming generation and those of any racial majority or minority.
The problem with film today is not only its lack of representation but its convoluted definitions of controversial labels, such as that of "a racist." Even at school, I overhear conversations where someone will refer to a friend or a classmate as "that black guy" and be called racist because defining an identity by a descriptor, their ethnicity, is seen as demeaning. However rude, the definition of "racism" and a "racist" simply doesn't apply.
Not only is this mistake common, but it seemingly stems from outside sources, whether it be other friends, family, film or society. With film, directors and producers attempt to stray from such titles through the addition of a single actor of color or play such labels as comedic — what we know to be our stereotypes today.
When I originally decided to watch this film, I was only given the light hearted version of this impactful story: that of a girl who defied odds trying to balance a life "in the hood" and in a white upper class neighborhood, only to see them clash when her best friend dies from a police encounter gone wrong. Ultimately, she figures out everything in the end. I saw it as a happy story: a story meant as a quick summer film with a few recognitions but quickly burned out spotlight. When I finally watched it, I realized its depth and the importance of its underlying message: T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E.
T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. : "The Hate U Give Little Infants F*** Everybody".
Its meaning? Hate fosters.
It spreads, not only through relationships or through minds, but through time and generations. It grows and snowballs so the final duel is no longer an argument but a war — a fight that can only last as long as the hate took to grow, if not longer. Having this as the central theme was a bold move, as it resembled and highlighted the discrepancies and parallels seen in society today. Most importantly, it called out discrepancies from both sides of the war.
The most obvious is the real life parallel drawn with the death of "Khalil," who was gunned down by a white police officer after he was pulled over for no reason, and the hairbrush in his car was perceived as a gun. In real life, there's the recent death of Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., who was gunned down by a white police officer who had mistaken him for the hunted mall shooter. Then there's unarmed Antwon Rose who was also fatally shot when he was pulled over by a white police officer.
The effect was tremendous: it showed the struggles of the black community from the eyes of a girl within the community of white viewers. Throughout the entire movie, we saw Starr struggle, not only in trying to mold herself into the expectations of each race but in trying to explain to the other side her predicament.
This attempt in explanation would only further highlight to each side their own faults and allow a look into the life of the other side's fight. Especially when it comes to showing the after effects of Khalil's death, where Starr would face her labeled "racist" friend for not blaming the officer for shooting Khalil because "All Lives Matter." The viewers saw Starr's story, completed in what ended in a fight against barred and armed white officers in riot uniform against a crowd of unarmed, angry black protesters.
It left the question: is this who we are? Who we want to become?
THUG LIFE. It taught me that we need to let go of this hatred we hold today. If not now, it will only grow and set a grimmer reality and future for our people. Highlighted at the end of the movie, Starr's little brother was the little infant who grew up within this division and the hatred blossoming around their society. He ended up having to wield a gun to protect his family from that same hatred — an event scarring both him and the viewers. More importantly, this movie taught me that we need to put up arms not against each other but against the source of our division.
There is no future more toxic than that of a society run by labels, money, privilege and color. We are to learn from the past, not repeat it, and if we know of the incoming storm, we should attempt any efforts to forego such a destructive outcome. Hatred fosters more hate, and two wrongs do not make a right. Violence can not be answered by more violence, rather through forgiveness can we spark change.
I can't stress enough how important this movie is for everyone to watch, not only to enjoy, but to listen and understand. I can only hope this movie is the first step to a larger journey and shorter road — a final march home to end this hard fought, drawn out fight.