The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas follows the life of a black girl named Starr Carter, after her childhood friend Khalil gets killed by a police officer. Following Khalil’s death, the reader is able to observe Starr’s struggles with violence within her community and racism, as well as how she deals with the major differences between friends from her school and her neighborhood.
The most prevalent theme throughout the first third of The Hate U Give has been racial injustice. Through the opening scenes, the reader witnesses Khalil and Starr getting pulled over by a cop for no specific reason. During this scene, Angie Thomas stresses how prevalent racism is in their community when she discusses a talk Starr previously had with her parents: “The other talk was about what to do if a cop stopped me. Momma fussed and told Daddy I was too young for that. He argued that I wasn’t too young to get arrested or shot. ‘Starr-Starr, you do whatever they tell you to do,’ he said. ‘Keep your hands visible. Don’t make any sudden moves” (20). Although she was still a young child, Starr’s parents were forced to take cautionary actions against the police brutality that was ever so common in their community. This quote alone allows the reader a perspective of how much racism can have an effect on black communities like Starr’s.
Racism also follows Starr through her life while at her school in Williamsburg, a predominately white neighborhood. I thought that the inclusion of Starr’s use of code switching while at Williamsburg was yet another way to call attention to how prevalent racism still is in many areas. Starr refrains from using slang or having a confrontational attitude to keep herself from being seen as “ghetto” by the other students. I think this is tied together with other books and articles we have discussed as a class, such as the Ted Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story” presented by Chimamanda Adichie. I found that both The Hate U Give and “The Danger of a Single Story” discuss how dangerous labels can be.
In my opinion, I believe this book would be a good book to add to the English curriculum to due to how relevant the themes discussed are to the time we live in today. Similarly to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, Starr’s voice in The Hate U Give is strong. I think it would be a more than adequate replacement for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, due to it’s ability to give students an example of a strong personal voice. Lastly, with the increase in police shootings that have sparked movements such as Black Lives Matter, The Hate U Give could provide a new perspective for many.