“The Hate U Give” entertaining, culturally significant

By Kate Gabrielson

Ihave seen more than my fair share of young adult movies, and most follow a predictable pattern; a totally average, down-to-earth teen attempts to navigate an overly dramatic, exaggerated version of high school, directed by someone clearly disconnected from today’s teenagers. “The Hate U Give,” however, deviates from that pattern in memorable, hard-hitting fashion.

Directed by George Tillman Jr., the instant box-office hit details the experience of African American high schooler Starr Carter, and her attempts to find herself amidst two vastly different worlds: her all-white private high school and her predominantly black neighborhood. When her close friend is murdered by a white police officer, her world is forever changed, and she is forced to choose between speaking out and remaining silent.

Photo courtesy of IMBb

Everything about this movie resonated with me: not only were the characters multifaceted and complex, but Carter proves you don’t need a Klan uniform and a power hose to be racist — modern-day racism is subtle, and can often go unnoticed if you’re not looking for the signs.

After the death of Carter’s friend, she finds the white students at her school celebrating, as they get to leave school early to join a protest against police brutality. As Carter looks on in horror as her classmates seem to disregard the true meaning of the protest, I couldn’t help but think of the nationwide walkout back in March, and how many students treated it as little more than an excuse to miss class.

White Americans — myself included — are often blind to our own privilege, and take for granted simple freedoms that many people of color are denied. At the age of eight, Carter’s father first gives her “the talk:” explaining what to do when she is inevitably pulled over by a white police officer. Personally, I was raised to believe that police exist to protect me, that they’re always on my side and ultimately have a sense of right and wrong. This movie served as a harsh reminder that for minorities, that’s simply not true.

All told, the movie clocked in at well over two hours, but never felt dragged or forced. It was clearly fueled by anger and frustration, but also had traces of hope and reason, and belief that this injustice will one day be eradicated.

Though I can only speak for my experiences, I found “The Hate U Give” incredibly eye-opening, and I highly recommend it. It provokes thought and discussion about the complex issues of race and socioeconomic division in our society, and contains valuable lessons about taking pride in yourself and your community.