Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
Some discussions are important to have with your children: the birds and the bees, kindness and bullying, and I should most definitely like to add, what to do if you ever get pulled over by a police offer, and how to check if you're privilege.
Our group touched on this several times over the course of a couple of hours. We acknowledge that some groups across racial/cultural/gender divide have it better or worse than others. In a room full of mostly Caucasian women, a woman of color and myself as the "self proclaimed Token Asian," our world view is limited to our individual privileges, our familial/cultural norms, and societal expectations we have for ourselves and others.
I understand privilege as the "token Asian." Regardless of whatever grade I got, whatever subject went over my head, my being Asian carried with it an assumption that I was highly intelligent, I was favored, et cetera et cetera. You can look up Asians and the "model minority myth," if you're so inclined to learn more on this subject.
So in spite of being just an average student, I was assumed in this positive (or not, depending on your thoughts) role. This is privilege. That I never had to work hard for anyone to trust me. I was automatic living the stereotype: good family, good (debatable) grades, going to college, getting a degree, working for advancement or content with a career that one will have until they retire.
This is my privilege and I acknowledge it.
The group of friends I have had throughout the years have never treated me less than because of the color of my skin. I was once told in college that if I were to visit my friend and her family in India, I would be readily accepted than if my black friend came with her. Of course, by the same "tokenness," I have experienced prejudices based solely on the color of my skin. The question "where are you really from?" doesn't bother me quite as much anymore, as I've heard that question all my life. Being married to a Hispanic man, I am fully aware of prejudices and stereotypes of a being Mexican American living in this type of societal powder keg. I am raising a generation that will have to fight for their accomplishments and against stereotypes. I know my daughter will encounter different forms of racism than her brother. Those are facts that I hope never come to fruition but still I am wary.
SO in our very lively and sometimes heated discussion on said privileges, we can acknowledge that with privilege comes certain types of power. One being: how to use what power I have to help those who don't. How can we as individuals or as a group help the marginalized, the oppressed, and the poor?
moving on to "my Review"
The Hate U give follows Starr Carter, a teenage girl who lives two different lives, as per society standards, and constructs. She attends school at a predominately white prep school and goes home to her poor, and mostly black neighborhood. When her best friend, Khalil , is fatally shot in front of her, she starts on what I like to call as 'journey of self discovery;' one in which the road was paved with a certain level of understanding of how the world operates, how to be two different people and slowly, if not painfully sudden, the road becomes more rocky and made with less sure footing. A takeaway: "you can do everything right and still be wrong."
Her childhood was never innocent. She saw things that most of us in our suburbia homelife can ever imagine. But through her voice - through Angie Thomas' carefully worded and profound words - I understood my own power, my own privilege. I applauded Starr when she found her sure footing, the power in her words, and her voice.
If you have never read a book by a woman, or person, of color, I urge you to read this one. To say it is life changing is an understatement.
I implore you to look beyond your own pedestal of understanding at the world, and look at the women and men who you look down on, without even realizing it. This book was heavy. Thomas wrote some wisdom of truths that only people of color can understand, however painful they may be. However, universally, I think everyone can agree that there exists a minefield of racial and social injustices for certain people. ***If by chance, you don't believe in this statement, I will most definitely gift you this book, please reach out.***
Folks, we must do better.
About the Author
Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books.
Book Club Pick: