Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Hate You Give - Angie Thomas

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Rating: 5 Stars

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

I feel like there aren't any words good enough to describe this book and how amazing it is.  This book is the most important political book I have read in a long time.  This book is so relevant to American society today. 

Based on the Black Lives Matter movement, this book takes place in Garden Heights, and involves the incidents that happen after Starr witnesses one of her best friends - Khalil - get killed by a police officer.  In the days and weeks that follow, it becomes known to people from GH that Starr is the one who was in the car with Khalil when he got shot.

The development of the characters in this story is phenomenal - especially Starr.  You see Starr going from a girl who thinks she can't speak out about her friends death to a girl who realizes she HAS to speak out about her friends death.  She lives in two worlds - her Garden Heights world, and her private school world - and she thinks she needs to keep them separate because her white classmates will judge her if she acts like the person she really is (and let's face it - they will, and they do.)  But Starr makes a decision and starts using her voice to stand up to her white classmates and friends, and to stand up to police brutality against unarmed youth in her neighborhood.  She becomes an activist and realizes she needs to stand up and fight against systemic racism not only in her neighborhood, but in the whole country.

I appreciate Angie Thomas's hard hitting look at racism in America, and the way she approaches the topic of police brutality towards black people.  Hell, I love her for it.  I love that she takes a topic too many {white} people are scared to talk about, and lays it all out in the open.  She does it in a way that is wonderful and amazing - the book could come across as preachy, but it doesn't. 

After reading this book, I know there even more things that white people need to know about this book, the BLM movement, and themselves:

1. You need to read this book.  Don't judge, don't jump to conclusions.  Just read this book.
2. The BLM movement is not about you. Let me say that again for the people in the back: It's Not About You. It's about black people.  It's about ending violence towards black people. It's about ending police brutality towards black people.
3. When you say "All Lives Matter," you are erasing the voices of black people and undermining a movement and a people who need and deserve to be heard.  You are erasing the fact that systemic racism exists in our country, and that police brutality towards black people exists at an alarming rate. (When was the last time you saw one of your white friends get killed because a police officer thought their hairbrush was a gun?!) 
4. Don't sit around saying #BlueLivesMatter, or saying that not all cops are bad cops.  We all know there are good cops.  We all know there are bad cops.  We all know that even the best people can do shitty things in certain situations.  Just stop.

There were so many things said in this book that hit me right in the gut, but one of the lines that stood out to me was something that Starr's uncle Carlos said to her when they were talking about Khalil:

"Even if he was, I knew that boy.  Watched him grow up with you.  He was more than any bad decision he made.... I hate that I let myself fall into that mind-set of trying to rationalize his death.  And at the end of the day, you don't kill someone for opening a car door. If you do, you shouldn't be a cop."

Because I feel like black people can really describe the heart of and importance of this book so much better, I need you to check out reviews of The Hate U Give by these reviewers.


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