I heard about The Hate U Give last week when Shaun King dropped the trailer on Twitter and Instagram. He’d been given the chance to see an advance screening of the movie and was impressed enough to recommend it to his followers. I was impressed enough to buy advance tickets online for the Saturday matinee then tell the kids don’t make plans, we’ve got a family outing.
And what an outing it was.
Jarrod Brown wrote a post on one of the themes in the movie and he nailed it when he said there was a lot to unpack. Seriously. It’s a lot, a lot. You should definitely read his post on what it’s like to be the safe black person.
Here’s the part where I give you time to bail out. I promise not to do spoilers, but if you’re the kind of person who likes to go into a movie with no prior info then this isn’t the post for you. I promise I won’t reveal anything you don’t learn from the trailer.
Okay then, onward. It’s impossible to fully discuss all of the issues explored in The Hate U Give so I’ll just hit a few.
We’ve had The Talk with our kids. I thought we’d done a decent job discussing how to act if you’re pulled over by the police – right up until I saw The Talk in this movie. It is the Real Deal. I was simultaneously struck by how black families across America teach their children specific ways to decrease the odds of being shot and how our well-intentioned instruction still fell short.
I’m impressed with how deftly the author handled the nuance of a white police officer shooting a young black boy during a traffic stop. I think part of our (white people) problem addressing this among ourselves is a perception that this type of shooting happens when it’s a) a tragic accident or b) a violent cop. The Hate U Give helps us understand what I believe is really happening – messages we absorb about black people affect us and affect our actions. All of us. Even police officers.
Watching Starr navigate two vastly different cultures was eye opening to say the least. Anyone with a teen grasps this on a certain level – your kid is a very different person around their friends than they are with you – but the code switching black people master is next level. Telling our kids they should be themselves is all well and good, but learning about what this means for someone who’s black is critical. This movie shows how someone bends and twists to meet white world requirements, and that made me think hard about the snap judgements we make based on somebody’s clothes or speech.
The nitty gritty:
The Hate U Give is rated PG-13 and was entirely appropriate for our middle school kids. Mature aspects include language, alcohol, discussion of drugs, sex (teens talk about it but no more than kissing is shown), and violence. The police brutality is difficult to watch but is real world and important for people (white people in particular) to see firsthand. This is a compelling look at something literally threatening the lives of Americans every single day. Go see it. Take a friend.