The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody.
That’s what Tupac wanted to tell us, tried to rap around our minds, got lost in a life of misunderstanding himself. That’s also what Angie Thomas’s book, The Hate U Give, explores through its story following a 16 year old girl who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend (you guessed it, unarmed Black male) at the hands of a white police officer. I won’t bury the lede here: this book is excellent. The language isn’t flowery, the metaphors aren’t ground-breaking, and the alliteration, synecdoches, and whatever else allegedly makes books brilliant are completely foregone. But, as a young Black woman who has straddled the white world as the only Black, who has seen people falling victim to circumstances, who has felt that anger that seems to be seeped in the blood of every Black American who knows helplessness…this book is truth.
The novel is easily young adult level, and is a surprisingly quick read for its breadth, but worth every minute that you will spend devouring it, every day that you will spend living it, and every moment that you will spend mulling it over. Again, I can’t say it enough — this book is excellent. If you are Black, it takes you through every emotion and thought you have had over the years as we have all followed the cases of our people, in varying stages of mental health and threat, being gunned down by the police force of this great America. If you are white, it invites you into the minds of the people who know far more about you than you know about them. Into their lives, into their worries, into their mistakes, into their anger. The society you were raised in as a white person has told you that you are the baseline from which all other people are either close to or far away from. You have likely learned very little about the culture and motivations of the people who live in the wings of your life, and when one of them is killed, you likely cannot help but consider the words of your kindred over the words of those others.
The Hate U Give is a case study of the other that uses the point of view of the other as the baseline. It may be unsettling, as a white person, to be considered from the “other” point of view, but…well, welcome.
I find myself obligated to say it one more time for the people in the back: THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. It is balm to my soul while also the fire underfoot. I am striving to read a book every week of this year, but I finished this book on a Wednesday night after starting on Sunday afternoon, so far ahead of schedule because for the first time in a long time (maybe since I was hiding from my mama with a flashlight under the covers so I could gobble up Harry Potter into the early hours), I found it hard to put a book down.
When I wrote in an earlier post about Homegoing, I said that books give different things to to different people. So maybe you won’t love this as much as I do. But open your mind and try. It’s that important.
When you have already chosen a side in a war, it’s hard not to see everything the other side does as a crime. This book is essentially the chronicle of the battle from the losing side, and the history isn’t adding up. But of course, it’s usually written by the winners.