THE HATE U GIVE
By Chris Dugopolski
This is a must-see movie and should have a subtitle The Fear You Have. The script is written by Audrey Wells and Angie Thomas and is balanced and realistic. As they say for some TV shows, the story was “ripped from the headlines.” The main character and narrator is Starr Carter, played by Amandla Stenberg and Starr is the star of this movie. She is 16 years old and begins her narration by telling us that the first time she had “the talk” from her father she was only seven, her half-brother, Seven, was a couple of years older and her brother Sekani was an infant. The “talk” was how to behave if stopped by a policeman while riding in a car. The father, Maverick Carter, played brilliantly by Russell Hornsby, tells them to be quiet answering only the questions asked of them and to put their hands on the dashboard where they can be seen. This “talk” is given to them frequently and he quizzes them on it. He also makes them memorize the Black Panther’s Party 10-point platform.
The Carters live in Garden Heights, a mostly black suburb. Maverick owns and runs a grocery/convenience store that we find out later in the movie was pretty much given to him by the local drug lord, King. Maverick apparently served time for drug trafficking without implicating King. Lisa Carter, the children’s mother, played by Regina Hall would like to move out of the neighborhood against her husband’s wishes. However, she sends the three children to a predominantly white private school. Starr says that there are two of her, the one in her own neighborhood and then the one at school. Though many of the white kids at the school use ghetto slang to her, she never uses it back. She fits in extremely well and appears to be popular. Another piece of brilliance in the film is her boyfriend Chris, who is one of the white students at the school. He is a genuine boyfriend to Starr and later in the movie provides some very much needed levity.
This gives us a picture of Starr and her very nice family. One weekend she attends a party in her neighborhood when she runs into an old best friend of hers, Khalil, another sixteen-year old boy. When shots ring out at the party, Starr and Khalil leave and he drives her home. On the drive, they are stopped by a policeman because he did not signal when changing lanes. She puts her hands on the dashboard. The policeman makes Khalil get out of the car and put his hands on the roof. Starr keeps telling Khalil to stay put but he reaches in the car for his brush and bang!!! He is shot in front of Starr and dies in front of her. The policeman thought the brush was a gun. We also learn that Starr lost her other best friend in a drive-by shooting and she never told anyone she saw who did it.
At this point the movie get very intense. Starr is he only witness to this shooting and has to appear in front of the grand jury. She also appears on TV though her face is not shown and her voice is disguised. During that interview, she mentions that Khalil was only selling drugs for the local drug lord because his grandmother had cancer and he had a younger brother to put through school. King did not like this and threatened the family.
At school, the white kids stage a walk out in support of Khalil, though it appears to be more to get out of school then real support. Starr says they don’t really understand at all and she gets into an argument with one of her best friends about being racist. Racism is not all lynching and burning crosses she says.
The policeman is not indicted, and the expected demonstrations start taking place. Starr’s Uncle Carlos, played by Common, is a police officer and ironically, he is the one explaining to Starr how taking something out of the car could seem to the police as Khalil reaching in for a gun to shoot the officer.
The ultimate horror is when King sends a fire bomb to the grocery store and then shows up when Maverick comes to the store and King threatens to shoot him. Somehow Sekani has a gun in his hands pointed at King and then two policemen arrive with their guns pointed at Sekani. I could hear people in the audience saying “Oh no, not the little kid.”