The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (1/3)

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.

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5 responses to “The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (1/3)

  1. miacremona

    Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give is a book that calls out social prejudice and racism in its many forms. Starr is certainly an engaging character, and I definitely agree with Sofia regarding the prominent theme of code-switching. Starr explains the way in which she acts towards her peers in Garden Heights, an area of her city that is predominantly populated by low-income African American families, and incredibly susceptible to gang violence. During the novel’s opening chapter, a friend from the so-called ghetto tells her “‘You act like you don’t know nobody ’cause you go to that school’” (Thomas 4). In response, Starr reflects upon how “I’ve been hearing that for six years, ever since my parents put me in Williamson Prep” (Thomas 4). Even from the book’s second page, a clear conflict is established, and Starr begins to struggle with her identity as she is caught between Williamson Prep, a school in suburban paradise, and the community she has grown up in all her life.

    In contrast to the violence she has faced in Garden Heights, Starr’s experience at school is incredibly contradictory. She describes how she “flips the switch in her brain” to avoid sounding “hood”, and most of all, like “the ‘angry black’ ” (Thomas 71). In one way or another, everyone faces the issue of having to transition between different personas. However, Starr faces what she perceives as two extremes, attempting to conform to her white school’s standards while simultaneously letting Garden Heights know she has not forgotten her roots.

    I too found that the connection to social issues in our modern day made for an incredibly fascinating read. We so often see news stories relating to police brutality, especially against people of color, and the protests that result, but we are unable to see the actual human beings affected in every aspect. I am very intrigued by the first portion of this novel, which, even despite the fact that it’s fictional, allows me to empathize with a character experiencing today’s issues rather than solely viewing an apathetic news story about. The Black Lives Matter movement (and similar contemporary ideologies) becomes increasingly prominent as the story moves along.

    The Hate U Give is not only very entertaining, but also manages to provide a new perspective and individual voice relating to racial issues of today. Starr has a very strong voice and is surrounded by other complex characters. Her voice as a teenage girl is especially relatable, and the author’s strong voice has so far been very effective at conveying her message. In my opinion, The Hate U Give is definitely appropriate for teenagers, and is a book that causes one to ponder the various issues of class and race in our communities.

  2. jackiebooth21

    “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas has been an entertaining, real, and eye-opening novel. The book centers around social and racial injustice, and this concept is delivered through the words of a relatable teenage girl, Starr. Starr’s voice throughout the novel is incredibly strong, and I feel as if I can know her personally and sympathize with her.

    As Mia and Sophia said, I found many prominent examples of code-switching. Starr lives in Garden Heights, a predominately black neighborhood known for its violence and drug deals. However, she attends Williamson high school. The atmosphere here is extremely different from her neighborhood, and she is one of the only black students. It has already been made clear that Starr code switches often. While at Williamson, she acts and speaks completely different than she does while at home. Starr explains it perfectly when she says, “‘Basically, Williamson Starr doesn’t give anyone a reason to call her ghetto. I can’t stand myself for doing it, but I do it anyway'” (Thomas 71). Not only does this quote elaborate on Starr’s differing personalities, it also offers insight into her own struggles. Starr realizes that she code switches, and she hates this about herself. Yet she makes so effort to change it. This shows an internal conflict within Starr, and shows the reader that she is constantly struggling with her identity.

    While reading this novel, I found that Starr often gives the reader meaningful insight into her thoughts. While her voice is sometimes humorous, Starr’s voice also can take on a more serious and thoughtful tone. An example of her deep thinking follows: “The truth casts a shadow over the kitchen- people like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice” (Thomas 59). When I first read this sentence, my head began to nod on its own. I had never thought about it this way. I realized that people often sympathize and feel sorry for others in bad situations like Starr’s and Kahlil’s (police brutality), but they rarely do anything to help. I suddenly understood that feeling sorry for them and creating hashtags isn’t enough. If we really want to fight against these problems, we need to truly support the people in need and help them find justice.

    So far, “The Hate U Give” has been an incredible and enlightening novel, and I can’t wait to continue reading.

  3. The Hate You Give has certainly set high standards for the rest of the novel with the first third of the book. Just like Sophia, Mia, and Jackie said, it focuses on the themes of racial injustice and codeswitching. From the moment I started this novel, I was interested. Angie Thomas has given Starr a unique voice that shines through. By writing in the first person, it helps capture all her thoughts and like Jackie said, let us get to know Starr as a person, rather than just another character in a fictitious story.

    The quote that Sophia mentioned on page 20 that stated, “The other talk was about what to do if a cop stopped me,” is the first of many quotes I found that help brings more meaning and depth to the book. It is sad how this is a regular talk for the young children in Starr’s community and household, that goes right with the other talk. It helps to draw an emphasis on the conflict that continues through the book.

    I found that Starr’s codeswitching stood out quite a bit, especially when she says, “That’s when I realized Williamson is one world and Garden Heights is another, and I have to keep them separate”(Thomas 36). All the other quotes presented help support this line, which is also shown through her actions. It seems that she keeps Kenya, a friend in Garden Heights separate from Hailey and Maya, her friends from Williamson. She later states that it is because she is ashamed to share the ghetto side of her. The quote that Mia mentioned helps showcase Starr’s internal conflicts as well. I also thought it was interesting that on page seventy-one, Starr refers to herself as Williamson Starr, as if she is an entirely different person. She also states that she can’t act like herself around people at Williamson, so by adding “Williamson Starr,” it helps bring attention to this idea.

    Another idea to add that hasn’t been stated yet, but I love the relationship between Starr and her mother. While humorous at times, it shows the love and lessons that go on between a mother and daughter. An example is when Brenda, Khalil’s mother, comes by to take to Starr’s mother, Lisa. Starr has bitter feelings spread throughout her mind when Brenda starts weeping for Khalil and starts judging her as well. However, Lisa quickly shuts her down by saying, “That was her son, you hear me? Her son! … She carried that boy, birthed that boy. And you have no right to judge her”(Thomas 91). It helps show the concept of a single story, that we have no rights to judge others based on what we hear about them and how they are portrayed to us. It’s important to understand what they’re going through and create an empathy link.

    All in all, the first third of The Hate You Give has been entertaining, and I look forward to reading the rest of the novel. I also agree with Sophia’s idea of adding it to the English curriculum, instead of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

  4. alexandrastearns2124

    As Jackie, Isha, Sofia, and Mia have previously stated, Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give is a novel that focuses on racism, violence, and social prejudice. The author writes the truth with no mask, and I found it shocking and bold at first, but not anymore. This eye-opening novel follows the complicated life of an African American girl named Starr Carter, who is as relatable as a teenager can get. Starr struggles with her life after her close friend Khalil is shot unjustly by a white police officer. After seeing Khalil get shot right in front of her, she describes in detail the red blood that surrounded him. When she is comforted by friends and family, the color red seems to pop up everywhere, from Ms. Brenda’s red eyes to “a Freeze Cup for the road, red syrup glistening on the top” (66). Violence is everywhere in her world.

    I agree with Sofia’s point of the similarities between “The Danger of The Single Story” and the scenes where blacks are shown to be dangerous. Starr describes, “He kept it on me until somebody else got there. Like I was a threat. I wasn’t the one with the gun” (120). The police officer has been trained to be wary of black people, and being extra careful is a normality for him. Not all blacks carry weapons or are a threat to others, and Khalil and Starr were an example of this. Thomas shuts down the single story of black people in this novel.

    I also noticed that there are drastic differences between Starr’s life at school and her life in the ghetto. There are many examples of the different language that is used, such as the “eww” versus “ill”, but the more dramatic deviation is Starr’s personality. When Starr is getting back to her normal life, she tells herself, “I just have to be normal Starr at normal Williamson and have a normal day. That means flipping the switch in my brain so I’m Williamson Starr. Williamson Starr doesn’t use slang…Williamson Starr holds her tongue when people piss her off so nobody will think she’s the ‘angry black girl.’ Williamson Starr is approachable” (71). She is suppressing her true culture and upbringing in order to fit in at her school. The main problem at her school is mostly drama-related, with friends and boyfriends thrown into the mix, but at home, it is more life-threatening. At school, she does not need to fear for her life, fleeing into her house’s basement when shots ring out in her neighborhood. Trying to control her true feelings on the matter, Starr, “chooses every word carefully and makes sure she pronounces them well” (95), when she is testifying at the police station. The fact that she must make sure of this in order to get the truth out proves the single story occurring in people’s minds. Coming across a novel like this that dives deep into the story of people witnessing an unjust shooting is rare, and it has impacted my political views.

    I found it interesting that Starr’s family and community is so close to each other. At one point, Starr mentioned that her uncle was almost like her father. Personally, I only see and talk to my uncle once a year, and I wish that I was closer with him and the rest of my family. One of the reasons why I like this book so much is because it is full of modern day references, like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Drake, J. Cole, and the nae nae. It brightens up the dark tone of the novel, and keeps the reader interested.

    Like Jackie, I cannot wait to see what unfolds for Starr later in this novel. I hope to see her start to advocate for Khalil’s justice more in the next third of the novel.

  5. alexandrastearns2124

    The Hate U Give (2/3)

    In the second third of this book, Starr’s world around her complicates dramatically, with racism around every corner. I find that I am more and more intrigued by the story the more I read it. The author is very brave to write about a topic that is so controversial. Her voice is being made heard, just like Starr. She talks about black people, minorities, and poor people being at the bottom of society. But that, “we’re the ones they fear the most” (168). Her belief is that today, people basically have the same mentality to black people as they did hundreds of years ago. Reading this book makes me feels uncomfortable because I’m finding that her point is true.

    Starr’s character is becoming bolder in her nature, becoming more used to the fact that her best friend was unjustly murdered. I am liking her character more and more, as well as her family members. Her mother is always very comforting towards her, especially when Starr is put in uncomfortable situations. Sometimes, Starr is unable to feel safe, realizing that her mother’s “words used to have power. If she said it was fine, it was fine. But after you’ve held two people as they took their last breaths, words like that don’t mean shit anymore” (165). She is coming to the realization that the outside world is cruel, and that her parents cannot protect her from all of the horrors that occur in her neighborhood. Her father also tries to cheer her up when she breaks down talking to a woman fighting for Khalil’s justice, trying to help her through challenging times. Also, Maverick helps Starr start to speak out and face what happened, telling her that this is “something to live for, something to die for” (200).

    The gangs in the neighborhood add an over-looming sense of fear and doom to the characters. It seems like everyone is involved with shady things that are under the law, from Khalil selling drugs to her father previously being in the Kings gang. However, the single story of darkness surrounding African Americans is broken when the readers find out that Khalil was only selling drugs to help his mother survive. Starr realizes with horror that she, “thought the worst of him. Like everybody else” (237). She is referring to the fact whites see the worst in black people at first sight.

    Throughout the novel, the blacks are often written as the victims, but one of the times where they aren’t is when Starr’s family meets her boyfriend, Chris. Her father’s reaction is shock, and Chris feels uncomfortable. He is not used to being treated that way, and I thought it was interesting that the author included this.

    Starr’s friends should be supportive of what she is going through, but they are not. Her friends both went to the protest at Williamson just to skip class. Starr gets very angry, lashing out. Hailey, when viewing the lies on television about the encounter, said, “His son lost everything because he was trying to do his job and protect himself. His life matters too, you know” (248). This makes me cringe, but I understand where Hailey is coming from. She is used to putting her own race in the right, and others in the wrong. This further displays racism at the core of people’s thoughts.

    I stopped at the part where Starr is on an interview about Khalil’s murder. She ends up telling the truth that the other news channel left out, risking her reputation and changing her life in the process. This is the turning point of the novel, and I am now left wondering what will happen next. I predict that the drama in the town will escalate, and that the citizens will try to eliminate the racism and social prejudice running rampant.

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