The Hate U Give Full Review SPOILERS

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Warning this review has harsh language and spoilers. Sorry it took so long, I’ve been extremely busy. Nonetheless I hope it’s enlightening.

I was lucky enough to be able to see this movie before its official release date. A movie that tackles the tough issue of race  I went in high on expectations given to me from people who, honestly I don’t usually hear talk about these issues.

That should have been my first warning.

But lets start with the good.

An all-star cast turns in a stellar performance. Amandla Stenberg is amazing as Starr Carter. She brings so much nuance to the role. Every new obstacle in her way you can see her working it out in her mind, you can see it affecting her in different ways and she pulls you into that with her. Throughout the entire movie you see her brilliance as an actor shine through despite the gross mishandling of the script’s content matter. I couldn’t wait to see what she was going to do next.

Russell Hornsby also does a stellar job as the loving and proudly militant black father. His approach channeled so many black men I know and have known throughout my own life. Men who are trying their best to operate in this society and bring up their kids the best way they know how.

Of course Regina Hall is wonderful as always. Her performance in this film as the mother navigating her child’s emotional trauma while living in a place she resents was brilliant.

The second warning was that, while the book was written by a black woman, a white woman wrote the screenplay. I’m a firm believer of people telling their own stories, ESPECIALLY when it’s a story that revolves entirely around their identity or the oppression becoming of that identity. When others, especially those of the oppressing class get behind the reigns, they often (read: Always) get things wrong even in simple translation.

This film made me tired. Rather it made me realize just how tired I am of all these tropes.

I’m tired of the well-meaning white boy who doesn’t “Get it.”(wrinkle in time, dear white people the movie AND the series) Who’s colorblind, racist and or abusive foolishness is always satiated with a kiss and promise of hot and heavy affection down the line. He’s clearly their outreach to white people. “We still love you white people” this trope coos to them. “We still love you while you kill us, we just want you to do better that’s all” it sighs while lovingly stroking their hair. He’s there to coddle the white producers and give a boost to the egos of those funding the project, to make them feel like “hey that’s me” instead of them being the racist cop(spoiler alert they are usually the racist cop).

I’m tired of watching black people shot to death in real life and on film. It feels like trauma porn. Why did we have to see that so vividly? And if it(this movie) wasn’t for black people, why the focus on crime in the community?(more on that later)

I’m tired of the light-skinned caught between two worlds girl. I want to hear from the people who were ACTUALLY around Khalil. I want to hear from the unambiguous black girl who lives in the hood, stays in the hood and has no escape from the trauma. How does this affect her. Indeed Kenya’s version of the story would’ve been wonderful to hear, however we only see her as the loud, ready to fight sidekick who barely talks after the incident.

But what I’m really, REALLY tired of, is white people writing black people’s stories. There was absolutely no reason to give this script to the white scriptwriter Audrey Wells. Most of the issues with pandering to whiteness and the white gaze can most likely be attributed to this gross mishandling of storytelling. The scene where the white boy (hereafter referred to as WB) says he doesn’t see color and Starr calls him out on it only for her to forgive him as he (cornily) says “I see you” was astoundingly bad and completely misses the point. Then IMMEDIATELY after this Starr tells her dad that she’s dating WB because he didn’t show her what a good black man was, but what a good man was.

Wait

Hol up

But you just said…Chile, whew.

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There’s so many better ways to say why you are dating someone outside your race…and you settled on that colorblind mess RIGHT AFTER you explained very well, why that’s bull? Nah fam, back to the drawing board.

Also that whole interaction with her and her dad was creepy af but that’s a whole separate post. It made my skin crawl even with the wonderful acting, that was just written terribly, can’t fix that.

The biggest problem was with the end of this film.

You mean to tell me that you have me sit there and watch a black man die, vividly, then deal with the inaction of police, then watch the cop get off while another black family is torn apart….

And then chalk it all up to black on black crime?

“it’s not the hate YOU give, it’s the hate WE give.”

See, no, fuck you and the horse you rode in on, and the raggedy ass inline skates you wobbling out of here on.

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This movie gets a lot right, which is why it’s so dangerous. it’s like they listened just enough to get people to listen and then switch them to the wrong side of a clear argument. People are going to walk out of this with a justification of their bs belief that black on black crime is equal to cop vs civilian murders and without an understanding of the underlying systemic issues that cause both of these things. There was a white woman in the movie theatre with me who had long grinch fingers in her hair, what she probably calls “dreadlocks.” She was a teacher and I can only imagine how emboldened her cultural appropriating arse was walking out of there. I fear for the lessons she will teach to children of all races about this topic based on this film.

And you mean to tell me that in the same movie a cop thinks a brush is a gun, but rolls up on an actual black child with an actual gun pointing it at an actual human being and they don’t shoot? And we watch the black guy go to jail but still nothing of the cop and that’s the happy ending?

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Nah, not feelin’ it

Although the performances in the film were outstanding, moving, and ultimately some of the best I’ve seen this year…this movie gets no stars. As a general rule, steer clear of black trauma porn masquerading as a movie for black folks that’s really for sell-outs and fox news pundits.

no stars
Absolute zero

Thanks for reading ya’ll. Fuck this movie.

 

 

Boogeyman of the Black Neighborhood

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Boogeyman- a common allusion to a mythical creature in many cultures used by adults or older children to frighten bad children into good behavior.

Red, white, and blue lights flash in two separate neighborhoods. In neighborhood one, the children continue to play, they smile and wave at the drivers cruising beneath the lights, who smile and wave back. The Andy Griffith theme song seems to blast full volume across the subdivision, whilst the lessons learned from that wise old sheriff play in parent’s heads. Knowing that these people are around to protect and serve them is a weight off of their minds. No one will hurt their children while these guys are around, they are the quintessential good guys. They are a heavenly mix of Andy Griffith, John Mcclain, and Jim Malone, always doing what’s right for the people.

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Serving and Protecting with a smile, whistle, and a well timed joke.

When the children of neighborhood one come in from playing and ask about the lights and the men beneath them, the parents can proclaim with total honesty that they are here to help you when you’re lost you go to them, tell them your name and address and they’ll get you home. Be grateful for them, they’re our heroes in blue, always have been. You can have a full out pumpkin riot, burning cop cars and not have to worry my child. You’ll be fine.

In neighborhood two the scene isn’t quite as picturesque. The same lights flash, the same drivers peer through the window. But this time the children flee, jumping fences, leaving their toys where they lay. Parent’s heads are filled with grotesque images as old as The Good Ship Jesus and as fresh as the loose cigarettes still burning on the asphalt. One mother may recall a San Francisco cop saying it’s okay to kill black people as “It’s not against the law to put an animal down,” before pulling their child indoors. Another father may recall the hundreds and thousands of lynchings throughout the United States aided and abetted by the police. And yet another would recall the recent shooting of a little boy named Tamir Rice gunned down for playing in the park. And another still would recall a woman named Rekia Boyd, being shot and killed for no reason while the cop who did it walked off a free man. When these guys roll through, their children are in danger, their wives, husbands, and daughters are in real danger. They are to be feared, but unlike the tales of the monster under the bed others may tell, this monster is real, and can kill with no consequence.

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Unarmed peaceful Ferguson protester

They must tell their children to do so many things to walk away with their lives from an encounter with these men in blue. Don’t sag your pants, don’t raise your voice, don’t move quickly, don’t wear that shirt, effectively micro policing an entire group of people. And even then, they may still be shot and killed. And what happens when Blacks know their rights and react with intelligence, rightful anger at an officer’s blatant disrespect for their constitutional rights, and refuse to comply with illegal demands? Well…Sandra Bland.

These differences are why white people always ask “well why did he/she run”, and black people always say “of course he/she ran.”

The difference between the two neighborhoods is, of course, racial, the first being white and the second black. But it’s more than “just” the skin tone. It’s the history that has been caused by the vilification and criminalization of that extra pigmentation in their skin. Because this country and its infrastructure were built with the idea that black people weren’t human, and darker-skinned people were the enemy, the intuitions meant to protect and serve only do that for a certain few while targeting and attacking all the rest.

Social conflict theory states basically that the more powerful groups use their power to exploit the groups with less power. We can see this currently with the immense wage gap between those of the 1 percent of 1 percent and the rest of the country. In the beginning though, the power structure was a caste system set by not only wealth, but skin color.

Imagine a society set up by poor people. A country founded by those who had nothing. Well laws would be different. They’d probably have something in there about sharing, about caring for someone who needs help. But a country founded by the wealthy would have more about protecting their own wealth. Nothing wrong with that, but replace that wealth with skin color, things get a bit more problematic. Add in the fact that after a huge civil war you’ll want these people to be functioning, contributing members of your society without giving them any recompense (land, money, or even trying to change public opinion) for what’s happened to them…and you’ve pretty much made it almost impossible for that to happen on a grand scale.

Due to being seen inherently as the enemy, black families must teach their children not to embrace the police but fear them. Black families don’t need a fictional boogeyman, the police fill that role impeccably.

Often times members of white liberal society who genuinely want to help ask “why so angry? Why the violent rhetoric” without understanding that the anger and rhetoric used is a symptom, merely a result of the society that creates racist policing practices. Police, politicians, doctors, writers, we are all born into a racist, patriarchal, homophobic, transphobic society.

This is the one time I’ll say this, it’s not your fault you became a racist, it’s not your fault you became a misogynist, it is not your fault you became transphobic or homophobic. It is your fault that you are STILL one. Your fight to remain firmly inside your privilege bubble is not a victimless act. It’s killing people as we speak.

The doctor that thinks twice before operating on a Trans man or woman just lost the second they needed to save a life because religion taught them that this is an abomination. The cop who barrel rolls into a group of teenagers and pulls his weapon on unarmed children because he’s been taught that black people are inherently dangerous through various media outlets. The young children who think it’s funny to beat up homeless people. They do this because of the deafening silence that gives them the go-ahead. They do this because the fight to keep the status quo makes them believe ideas about minorities that should’ve been thrown away with the dismantling of Jim Crow. But because this fight to keep everything the way it is has been going on for so long, ideas and opinions are formed with no basis in reality, which in turn literally kills people. This unwillingness to admit that something is terribly wrong with this society is what haunts the fight of each generation for justice and equality.

And therein lies the real struggle. I had a teacher that always stressed the importance of how a group of people is regularly portrayed on television. For many this seems insignificant, “it’s just TV right”? But please if I may… In many places of this country, people live in groups that are mirrors of themselves and their parents. We are still very much a segregated country. So there may be a white person who goes their whole life form birth to 18, never interacting with a black person. Never getting to know an Asian or Native American, transgendered person, or a homosexual person. So where does this person get their ideas on how these people act? Why films and television of course. Now this person sees the slanted media coverage showing black crimes over and over while not showing the reality that whites are more likely to commit dangerous crimes like rape and armed robbery. So they think, this is the real danger, THEY are the real problem, and when they go online and hear blacks talking about hard facts and statistics they say “no I’m the real victim” and then they walk into a black church full of misplaced self-righteous bullshit anger and shoot 9 people. Or they join a fraternity and chant gleefully about a “nigger not joining SAE.” (That fraternity has produced some very influential members several senators, governors, and even a President.) Or they hunt black people in Mississippi. Or they join hate groups and infiltrate police ranks. Or they become Senators, Congressmen, Police officers, and have all of these prejudices and pass laws to “control blacks”. These politicians aren’t feared like the cops are, but they are the ones that facilitate the means for the boys in blue to be monsters in the black neighborhood. They pass drug laws because drugs make Blacks think they are as good as whites. Because it’s more than blacks being portrayed as less than human, it’s about blacks being portrayed as problems. The problem is “they want our women”, see Birth of a Nation, the problem is they are taking over the country see the Charleston shooter, the problem is they aren’t capable of greatness see every whitewashed Egyptian/biblical film.

Now to the work. See the call for justice in cases of police brutality against minorities, is really a call to just say, hey you can’t do this and get away with it. This is very important to note because we haven’t even gotten to the point where people are saying stop doing it. It’s just being asked that those who do it pay for it so that maybe, others won’t do the same.

It’s about changing the culture, changing society, it’s hard and easy at the same time. All it would take are classes that are taken seriously, changes in media to reflect the diversity of character that a group of people truly can encompass. How many more people have to die before our humanity is recognized and respected? It’s been going on for too long, the stakes are high and there are solutions, but who’s listening? At this point it probably doesn’t matter, it seems Black America is demanding a change and an impasse will come, the result of it, is up to all of us who refuse to give in to the boogeyman.

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Sources: FBI, Society Pages, NY times, Gawker, LA times, Youtube.