Why Everyone Should Read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Updated: Sep 22, 2020
That title is no lie, everyone needs to read The Hate U Give; especially now. I come from a small, conservative town; my world view is fairly narrow. As I write this piece, I am still learning about the hardships others face and expanding my world view. This is where Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give comes in.
The Hate U Give is a wonderful starting point for delving into Black Lives Matter. If you are looking for resources to begin your own education on Black Lives Matter, here are a few resources that I’ve found helpful: blacklivesmatter.com; Guide to Allyship by Amélie Lamont; Guide to Virtual Protesting by @sa.liine on Instagram, and first hand accounts of racism, police brutality, and Black Lives Matter protests I’ve read on Twitter, Instagram, and various news sources have been extremely helpful as well. There is also the Deliberate & Unafraid Book Club that was created by designer De Nichols that I have just come across. The book club’s goal is to feature books, along with the experiences of authors, activists, and artists, in order to promote these works while challenging the social injustices of the world.
Back to The Hate U Give though. Like I said, I believe this book to be a good starting point for one’s research into Black Lives Matter. It’s a good starting place for both teens and adults alike. By reading this book, you are putting a face and someone’s [Starr’s] thoughts to the topic as you’re reading from her POV. It also helps that Thomas does not sugarcoat the racism her characters face throughout the novel.
Why is it a good starting place you may ask, well in Thomas’s own words: “YA is one of the most progressive genres of literature and we need to give it credit for that. Teenagers are so much more open minded than adults.” I wholeheartedly agree. Personally, I always seem to hear from close-minded adults that teens and those in their 20’s are not capable of having or forming his, her, or their own beliefs and opinions due to “lack of worldly experience.”
That idea can’t be further from the truth. YA literature has certainly helped me see the world around me and learn more about it, and I know it has helped many others do so as well. Young people can handle hardships, and injustices. Young people can handle topics like racism, war, and sexism. Just because these topics aren’t conversations most enjoy having doesn’t mean that teenagers can’t learn or hear or take action about these things.
Using The Hate U Give as an example, it focuses on racism and police brutality. And did that hinder this book’s performance on best-sellers lists? Absolutely not! In fact, it remained at the top of The New York Times YA best-seller list for over 80 weeks. Why? Firstly, because it’s an all around great book. Secondly, it’s relevant and opens up a topic of conversation many people wouldn’t have otherwise.
So, what has this book taught me? What can this book teach you? Well, let’s start out small with “the talk.” I’m not talking about the sex talk; I’m talking about the talk that black parents give their children about police brutality and the dangers they face because of racism. I never knew this talk existed. As I said, I’m from a small, conservative, white town; this is one of the first times I’m learning of this. The fact that it’s 2020 and these talks have only become more necessary, or so I can only imagine, absolutely disgusts me. And these talks are nothing new, the names of victims just continue to change.
This book also teaches readers not to take people at face value. Let’s face it, many of the characters in this book could have easily been stereotypes had Thomas not created dynamic backstories for said characters. She gives us time to get to know the characters, and the opportunity to hear the stories of characters like DeVante and Khalil. There are those in the book who just see these two as thugs and drug dealers, but that’s just a surface view of these characters. In the novel, the media doesn’t give any thought as to why these two could be selling drugs or the hardships they face in their day to day life. The same goes for some of the characters who fill the antagonist roles of the book; they also choose to see only a stereotype because of their ignorance. Characters like DeVante and Khalil are much more than stereotypical drug dealers, their stories are nuanced and complex; neither are truly good or bad, they are human. There is always more to people than what meets the eye, yet the worst aspects are what are seen because of people’s ignorance.
Most importantly, this book teaches how to be a good ally. Take a look at Chris; be like Chris. Chris knows when to keep his mouth shut and just be there for Starr. He is willing to learn about racism and police brutality. He doesn’t need to be the hero, he knows he’s not a hero, he’s just being a decent human being. His voice is not the one that needs to be heard; instead he stands by his girlfriend and uplifts her voice. I am not applauding him for being a decent human being. I am saying we should all be like Chris and be decent people who are willing to learn about hardships that are not our own, uplift other people’s voices, and stand for what’s right. Do what’s right, educate yourself, take a step back and ask what you can do to help. Whatever you do, don’t be performative. Don’t just take a stand because it makes you look good. Actually educate yourself on police brutality and Black Lives Matter, help uplift marginalized voices.
Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is hurting everyone. Now is the time to educate yourself. Just because you yourself don’t go through certain hardships doesn’t mean these things don’t happen. Things need to change, and one of the first steps to making change happen is to educate yourself; I cannot stress that enough.
I know this post probably isn’t the greatest thing I’ve ever written. I know it feels like a high school essay in some places. I know I have a long way to go when it comes to my education on this topic, but I am going to insist that you read The Hate U Give as part of your education on Black Lives Matter. This is not a topic anyone should be uneducated on.