This week, I’ve got a special treat for y’all: a guest blogger!
The lovely Savannah aka The Student Foodie is going to give her two cents on the new movie, The Hate U Give!
Image from TheStudentFoodie.ca
Spoiler alert: Savannah is not black, but I wanted to hear her perspective on a highly racial film so she and I can compare and contrast our thoughts after watching it.
I invite you to check out Savannah’s blog: https://thestudentfoodie.ca
and without further adieu, here’s her take on T.H.U.G.!
Image from Foxmovies.com
- When you were younger, did your parents give you:
a) The Sex Talk
b) The Traffic Stop Talk
- During a traffic stop you:
a) Snapchat a picture of your speeding ticket to send to your friends with the caption “f*ck the police!”
b) Fear for your life and use your phone to record evidence
- Have you seen someone die?
a) No, the only death I’ve seen is on the big screen
b) Yes, I’ve watched close friends get killed
If you answered A for all of the above, you are PRIVILEGED!
If you answered B, then your experiences resemble those of Starr Carter and the larger population of African-Americans represented in The Hate U Give (hyperlink to movie review: https://variety.com/2018/film/reviews/the-hate-u-give-review-1202933118/).
Based on Angie Thomas’ YA novel and adapted for film by George Tillman Jr., The Hate U Give follows Starr, a young black girl who witnesses her friend Khalil, an unarmed black man, get shot and killed by a white police officer during a traffic stop. In other words, a typical American news headline.
Though, I was blown away by the film (my friends and I ugly cried the whole time), I was not surprised. If the police brutality, anti-black racism and overall injustice were shocking to you, then you are probably part of the problem, or at least complicit. In just two hours, Tillman Jr. paints a vivid picture of America’s racial division, touching on everything from the prison industrial complex to intra-community violence.
Here are a few key lessons from the film:
Code Switching is a “survival technique”
Like many POC, Starr adopts two different personas to adhere to her black and white worlds. When she is at home in her predominantly black neighbourhood, she acts one way and when she is at her predominantly white school, she adjusts herself to behave another. She exists in a state of suspension where she is often too white in her black community, but too black in her white school.
Racism isn’t always overt
As Starr said, racism isn’t confined to using the N word, or spraying black people with hoses.
More often than not, racism is internalized and expressed in more subtle ways like “jokingly” telling your black friend to eat fried chicken, or asking your Hispanic friend how they crossed the border (I’ve been asked this too many times to count).
Basically, don’t be this girl:
Image from Daily Motion Video.
Black bodies are inherently political
Black bodies do not have the luxury of remaining apolitical. Black bodies are trained to be defensive from a young age. In the powerful opening scene, Starr and her brother, Seven are given the “traffic stop talk,” or how to not get killed in an encounter with the police. Most kids get the sex talk. At Khalil’s funeral, April points out that even when black people are unarmed, they are still armed because their blackness is perceived as a weapon. The colour blind ideology (“I don’t see colour”), that many well-intentioned white people possess also serves to further negate the real oppression POC have and continue to face. Starr said it best, “If you don’t see my blackness then you don’t see me.”
“I try to write fiction that’s rooted in reality, and the reality is even scarier than anything that I could write.” -Angie Thomas, author The Hate U Give
The film depicts enough brutality and injustice to provoke critical thought, but remains easily digestible to appeal to a wide range of viewers. While it cannot encompass the full extent of the oppression that exists in North America, the film offers insight into a perspective that has been historically and routinely silenced, but not for long.