The Hate U Give: A heart-wrenching reality that lit up the screen

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A few weeks ago I learned a hard truth. Something that I would have normally bet my life on. In any case, I was forced to admit that the book isn’t always better after seeing the movie ‘The Hate U Give’ based on the book by Angie Thomas.

Surprisingly I loved the movie as much as I loved the book. How much is that? I love this book so much that other than purchasing it for myself, I’ve also gifted it to seven different people and counting (you’re welcome Angie, I got you)

This book is relevant and timely that I instantly fell in love with the characters, the story and the overall message.

Whether you’re black or white; red or green, I think you can agree that the shootings of unarmed black men that have plagued our communities are a tragic injustice that needs to be fixed. That was already my thinking when I picked up the book ‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas, so this story not only resonated with me but it also helped to shine a light on issues I couldn’t have imagined.

The book was a touching and accurate depiction of race relations and the stereotypes and biases people of colour walk around and live with on a daily basis.

Living in Canada we think we are above these biases but that’s far from the truth. Hate still plagues our schools, our communities, our workplaces, our streets and our everyday lives. While it is not as overt it is still there, and I think that many of us, like the main character Starr, have found ways to coexist with these biases and ignore this Hate.  

Like Starr, growing up I attended a school in the suburbs of Toronto that only had three other people of colour in the entire school. When I went to high school it diversified a bit more, but not that much. You had no choice but to befriend the other people of colour because we were very few, and there was a clear distinction between the races.

Although I never experienced overt racism that feeling as though you were always being watched was always present.  I remember in grade five one of my best friends told me that she wanted to invite me over for a playdate but her mom didn’t trust Black people in her house. I didn’t quite understand but I knew that what she said didn’t feel good. What bothered me the most is how she said it so nonchalant. Like she knew somehow that I should understand.

That’s when I realize, like Starr, that there were two versions of me. The one that went to school, got straight A’s and spoke eloquently and clearly. Then there was the person I was at home; the me that was straight and unapologetically Jamaican.

How do we live in our skin when our skin is what they hate?

The beauty of this book is that it illustrated the strain of being a person who sees first hand that Black Lives truly Matter, and the repercussions of a society that feels differently. The book beautifully captures that and the movie blew me away further driving this message into our hearts, our minds and our consciousness in a way I haven’t seen before.

The opening scene when Maverick Carter played by Russell Hornsby is having ‘the talk’ with his small children about being pulled over by law enforcement and the ways in which you must speak to them is heart-wrenching and an accurate depiction of conversations too many black parents have had with their children for decades.

This scene gave me chills as I thought of my own children and in particular my opinionated son, who has been raised to ask questions and have opinions. I’ve had similar conversations with him, conversations that have been difficult to say the least, and as he grows older these will become more prevalent and more detailed.  I look at him sometimes in awe of how he’s grown so tall and handsome but it also scares me because I see how the world sees him, and I hate it.

The book and the movie stuck with me way after I had completed them, which is an indication of a great story.  From beginning to end this movie gripped me with its realistic and heart-wrenching story, that was so spot on with current events.  I never thought I would ever say this but here it is: ‘the book isn’t always better.’

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