In a world full of racial tension, bias, and brutality, “The Hate U Give” respectfully and creatively presents a sense of understanding and a universal message of the unfairness Black people face daily, simply because of the color of their skin.
The movie begins with a controversial subject within the Black community, “the talk.” Instead of the usual “birds and the bees” talk most parents pass down to their children, Black parents must explain widespread discrimination and racism to their kids, warning them about the treatment they may experience in an interaction with an officer of the law. Reminding them not to let it impact their sense of self-worth and abilities.
The tone of the film speaks to represent victims killed by thoughtless, reckless and fearful police officers. Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Sandra Bland are just a few of many Black Americans who were victims to the aggressive, careless and ever-popular trend of law enforcement abusing their power, killing innocent people and receiving no justice.
The movie excellently shines light on this growing epidemic on how law enforcement is quick to shoot first and ask questions later within certain situations, especially ones that occur in Black communities.
Actress, writer and activist Issa Rae, quotes a black female poet in the film, “It is impossible to be unarmed when blackness is the weapon that they fear.”
“The Hate U Give” is raw in its analysis of how Black people are automatically seen as immediate threats compared to white people. With loud voices and confrontational demeanors as excuses to validate their vicious, unapologetic behavior without consequence.
The film addresses how with each case, sympathy is always shown more toward the officer involved than the actual victim. Making it seem like because of the lifestyle the victim lead, an early death was inevitable. The truth being the neighborhoods these victims come from have been abandoned and stripped of any opportunities to better themselves and obtain decent work. Leaving drug dealing and gang life the only option available to make money and move away.
Rapper, actor, and activist Common, plays the uncle of the main character who witnesses her innocent friend be slain by a local police officer, and is also a police officer himself in the same force. This role offers a unique perspective to both sides as a Black man and as an officer.
Common’s character, when asked in the film, confesses that he too is more cautious of a Black suspect than a white one. This action acting as an eye opener to the bias assessments of Black and white suspects and how police perceive them in tense situations.
The film is also very much about being caught in between two different worlds. Amandla Stenberg, the main character, must be a discreet, “proper” version of herself at her mostly white private school and her other more natural version at home and within her neighborhood.
Stenberg’s character, in an incident with her friend, shows her peers at school the fact that Black “culture” is fun and trendy to privileged white people but that they would never trade skin color or the obstacles that come with it. The “slang”, music, clothes and attitude are catchy and infectious, but the life that comes with it, doesn’t matter when compared to the cushy life they live.
Russell Hornsby, who plays the main character’s father, is the hero of the film. His mission and hope throughout the movie are to break the cycle of the black community becoming victims with each upcoming generation. “The talk,” being his first effort toward his intentions.
Hornsby’s character concludes “the talk” with his children by reminding them, “Being Black is an honor because you come from greatness.”
This is important, especially to the youth because although they may be targeted and unnecessarily treated due to the color of their skin, being Black is a gift. Being Black holds a history and legacy that is unmatched and untouchable by any other race or ethnicity, even to this day, no matter who or what tries to shoot it down.
“The Hate U Give” accurately reflects how each community affected by police violence comes together and stands as one. Angry yet peaceful, terrified yet determined, confused and hurt, these communities form to expose a corrupt and unjust justice system that continues to treat and view Black people as less than human.
The film embarks on this extremely controversial subject and exposes it for what it really is, racial fear and complete ignorance of a misunderstood and stereotyped community.
“We are all witnesses to this injustice…and we will not stop until the world sees it too, we will not stop protesting…his life matters,” Stenberg’s character said. No matter how loud we are, no matter how we say it, “They refuse to hear us.”