Angie Thomas did a great job writing this book because she has created a perfect balance between the hard-hitting reality facing Starr and the Black Lives Matter Movement and the many moments Starr and her family and friends share.
Published on February 28, 2017, ‘The Hate U Give’ is the most empowering literary achievement of recent times. It has baffled and troubled young adult readers as they try to contend with Starr approach to life, fear, and her emotions. I don’t want to say any spoilers, but this book will most definitely have you angry throughout. Here is some historical context of this novel.
African American Young Adult Literature
The origins of African American literature can be found in the 19th-century narratives of the slave trade and the autobiographical narratives given by the 18th-century writers like Phillis Wheatley, about 1753–84. Writers like W.E.B. Du Bois (1868–1963) and Booker T. Washington (1856–1915) came out after the end of the slave trade to address the identity struggle and racism that the African Americans encountered. Other writers stopped providing write-ups for a white audience by using an African American style of diction and also using their novels as a vehicle for social analysis and change.
By the 1920s, an explosion of new music, writing, art, and music by African Americans was sparked by the Harlem Renaissance. This, in turn, ignited a larger debate between writers such as Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson. The arguments were mainly on whether it is the responsibility of African American writers to write about black man issues and identity. However, it was during the Harlem Renaissance that writing, music, and art by African Americans were consumed by white American culture for the first time.
Continuing, most of the children’s books published in the United States remain overwhelmingly white. Yet some people vocally disputed the submission that people did not want to read young adult books or children that features African American protagonists. And now, many great African American authors have emerged in the 21st century. Some of them are Jason Reynolds (1983), Jacqueline Woodson (1963), and Angie Thomas (1988).
A terrible legacy of colonialism is racism, which can be described as a social system in which people are sorted into categories based on factors like their appearance (especially skin color) and their ancestry. These categories are placed into a hierarchy or a ranking. The white European colonial masters were always seen as being at the top of the ranking in a colonial system. The European colonial masters were always held up in the world as the ideal against which the other categories of racism were standardized. Those placed in lower categories are those from families of indigenous or African American and European people, sometimes called Creole in the French colonies.
Racism helped structure colonial societies for centuries. It was woven into society at every level and even into the individual minds of colonizers and colonized. As much as people may have wanted, racism did not simply disappear with the systems it supported, including slavery and colonialism. Rather, in some cases, like the Jim Crow era of the American South, the end of the formal system of slavery gave rise to a new, vicious form of racial segregation, mob violence, and inequitable legislation. The people at the top of the racial hierarchies like the white Europeans and Americans had been brought up for centuries to think of themselves as superior to the lower class or savages of the world.
Starr Carter’s neighborhood of Garden Heights has widespread drug use, crime, and gang activity because of the dearth of good economic opportunities for its residents. The police in Starr’s neighborhood engage in racial profiling, which leads to the shooting the death of Starr’s unarmed friend, Khalil, by officer Cruise. One-Fifteen, as the police officer is referred to in the novel, was not indicted for Khalil’s murder because the judicial system is rigged against African American people. This led to a lot of violent protests in Garden Heights, during which many businesses were burned to the ground.
Starr is forced to become an expert in code-switching less dramatically, maintaining separate personas for her African American friends in the neighborhood and her white friends at her prep school. She experiences small aggressions daily in the form of racist jokes and yet she is very careful never to act in a stereotypical African American way lest she is tagged a sassy black girl or an angry black girl and shunned.
Black Lives Matter Movement
The author Angie Thomas was motivated to write ‘The Hate U Give‘ after hearing about many African American people who were killed by police brutality. In an interview with Ebony magazine, Thomas said that while the focus of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is often on African American men, she wrote her novel from Starr’s perspective because black girls were also affected by these horror stories, but they are usually ignored.”
Historically, the Black Lives Matter movement can trace its roots back to a long history of violent acts against African Americans. However, it became officially recognized on July 13, 2013. That was the day three activist women, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometti, came up with the name and created the hashtag that brought a deeper meaning to it. The phrase brought a lot of African American civil liberty organizations that promote the protection of human rights for African Americans together.
The black lives matter movement was created to protest the injustice of African American deaths in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s murder. In July 2013, an unarmed teen was shot and killed by a police officer, a neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. The police officer was acquitted of the shooting death of the teen, and this sparked nationwide outrage. BLM came to national prominence one year later after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death by police officer Darren Wilson. Riots broke out to protest the unarmed teen’s death and the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Wilson.
Even though there are still more deaths, the protests have succeeded in reducing police corruption and as Thomas showed in her book, ‘The Hate U Give’, many African Americans are tired of the status quo and are raising their voices to effect change.
How does ‘The Hate U Give’ end?
At the end of the novel, Starr condemns both King and One-Fifteen in an interview on television. Then Starr testifies before the grand jury. This was important because her testimony brought to light the full truth of what happened the night Khalil was killed. After this, there were protests concerning the grand jury decision.
What was the jury’s decision in ‘The Hate U Give’?
The grand jury decided not to indict Officer Brian Cruise, popularly called officer One-Fifteen, on any charges. This means he is free to continue living his life in spite of the fact that he killed an unarmed teenager for no just cause. This decision angered the African-American community and there were lots of protests.
What event inspired ‘The Hate U Give’?
The book, ‘The Hate U Give’ was inspired by the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant by a transit police officer in Oakland. This event was later chronicled in the 2014 film called Fruitvale Station. It was that event that inspired Angie Thomas to write her first novel, ‘The Hate U Give’.
What time period is ‘The Hate U Give’ set in?
The events in the book take place in the late ’90s. When you start reading the book, you will notice that you have honestly gone back in time. There were so many fun references to that era, from fashion to sports to music. You’ll have a good time remembering those days.
What is the significance of the title ‘The Hate U Give’?
The title of both the film and the book comes from the acronym “Thug Life,” made famous by Tupac, which stands for “The Hate U Give Little Infants F***’s Everybody.” Angie got the title from there, and it reflects the plot and many of the themes that are addressed in the film.