Melanated Reading…”The Hate U Give”

Over the winter holidays, I started the book, The Hurt U Give by Angie Thomas and just finished it not too long ago. Compelling, insightful, and hilarious-I was impressed to say the least. I know I’m probably late to the game, but that’s when you truly appreciate art-when the hype dies down and people aren’t talking about it as much.

Without giving too much away (I hate spoilers): the book follows the journey of Starr, a 16 year old Black woman who lives in a low socioeconomic neighborhood. As with many low SES residents, she feels the connection with her community and has to find a delicate balance between her home/ school life as she attends a predominantly white high school in an affluent white suburb. One night while driving home from a turnup with her friend Khalil, they’re pulled over by police and unfortunately, the officer unloads multiple bullets into Khalil’s unarmed black body-because the officer thought Khalil’s hairbrush is a gun. The only person to witness it? Starr. Thus begins the fight for justice through the eyes of this young woman.

When it comes to reading, it’s rare that I actually read fictional material. I tend to lean on biographies or books focused on a specific topic yet, Thomas has me reconsidering my book bias. Some thoughts:

1) As soon as I finished the book, I researched Thomas and I enjoyed hearing her story and background. I could see her life influenced the book in such an authentic manner. As I kept reading, I felt like I was getting a glimpse into Thomas’ life growing up in Mississippi as well as a reminder of my own hood and background.

2) I didn’t grow up a huge Tupac fan due to this huge feud between East and West coast artists that occurred in the 90s where even I, in elementary school, chose to side with Biggie Smalls (everyone had to choose back then). I’ve researched Pac multiple times and I’m still learning about who he was as an artist and man. The Hate U Give gave me more reasons to check him out because of the numerous references dropped in the book. He was before his time to say the least.

3) I think the book is important for the culture right now. At a time when Black bodies are constantly under attack and the aftermath is not always discussed, this was eye opening. I shed a tear for Khalil because I’ve been in similar situations and by the grace of God, I made it home. You don’t often hear how the personal affects family, friends, and those who didn’t know the deceased. I appreciated the realness captured by Thomas and I connected with the experience on a deeper level. I definitely believe that this book should be used in diversity courses to showcase the trouble with the double-consciousness that Black people must have at all times. It’s a delicate dance that we’ve been taught for years to survive in a space that doesn’t want us.

This piece of art is essential reading and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. What are some other fictional books that I’ve been missing out on? What are you reading!?

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