BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP
The Hate You Give is based on the New York Times Best Selling Novel by Angie Thomas. The story focuses on Starr (Amandla Stenberg) who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a nervous White police officer that mistakes a hairbrush for a gun. Now, Starr faces pressures from all sides of the community urging her to step up. She must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.
As protests around the killing mount, Starr slowly embraces activism. Enrolled at a predominately white private school, Starr tells the audience early on that she’s used to essentially splitting her personality in two, playing the non-threatening black girl around her white friends and then code-switching, with some awkwardness, back home in Garden Heights. Khalil’s death puts those two selves into conflict, and Stenberg beautifully plays that evolution, a girl whose carefully constructed notion of “normal” has been upended.
This story comes at a time where we are in a place where senseless killings at the hands of the police are so relevant. This teen is faced with a huge responsibility, what do you do when you know that you need to fight for the rights of your friend? What do you do when your parents and those close to you don’t want you to stand up because of the climate and you can be a statistic yourself? So many decisions for Starr to contemplate. What would you do in this situation? This powerful movie takes us on an emotional journey of finding your voice and standing for what is right regardless of what people may say.
Amandla Stenberg who people were not sure she was right for the role due to her light skin. The cover of the book shows a dark-skinned girl, so that is what everyone was envisioning in casting. But, she gives a breakout performance and proves them all wrong.
“Over the past year I’ve heard concerns from my community around my casting as Starr in The Hate U Give and I want those who are worried to know they are seen and heard. Something that I love most about the black community is the accountability and expectation for greatness and consciousness that we maintain. I hope Angie’s perspective can alleviate those concerns, though I don’t expect it to address the age-old conundrum of colorism and I’m glad this conversation is being opened up. The lack of diversity within the black girl representation we’re finally getting is apparent and it’s NOT ENOUGH, and I understand my role in the quest for onscreen diversity and the sensitivity I must have towards the colorism that I do not experience. Do I aim to represent all black girls? Hell nah! Do I expect all black girls to feel represented by me? Absolutely not. We encompass a beautiful and expansive plethora of experiences, identities, and shades and it would be ridiculous to assume that I should or could represent all of us. I want my sisters to know I navigate my industry with an acute awareness of how my accessibility contributes to the representation I am granted. I do so with a vigilance concerning the commodification of blackness and not taking up space that doesn’t belong to me. My biggest hope is that this precarious game of give and take we play with the historically white institution of Hollywood for the sake of representation can only lead to the diversity we want and deserve. I want to see my mama on screen. And my niece. I want to see my friends, my peers… and all those who have given me the blessing of their support. Let’s continue to demand depictions that don’t placate European beauty standards. And after all, this if you still don’t mess with the casting, hey, that’s your prerogative! But let’s show up to THUG for BLM, for rich and profound portrayals of contemporary black experience, for exploration of the nuance of bias, for black girl realness , for family, for gun control, for speaking up and out, for Philando, Tamir, Eric, Michael, Sandra and all the black lives that have been taken for no reason.” –Amandla Stenberg
In select theatres on October 5 and nationwide on October 19. Check your area for showtimes.