From left: George Tillman, David Johns, Amandla Stenberg and Bobby Sessions participate in a panel discussion about the movie "The Hate U Give" with students at the Smithsonian in D.C. on Sept. 24. (Brigette Squire/The Washington Informer)
From left: George Tillman, David Johns, Amandla Stenberg and Bobby Sessions participate in a panel discussion about the movie "The Hate U Give" with students at the Smithsonian in D.C. on Sept. 24. (Brigette Squire/The Washington Informer)

“The Hate U Give” is a movie made by Black people, for Black people, about Black people and the issues that we face every day.

Based on the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller by Angie Thomas, the film stars Amandla Stenberg as Starr Carter, Russell Hornsby as Maverick Carter, Regina Hall as Lisa Carter, Common as Uncle Carlos, Anthony Mackie as King, and Issa Rae and April Ofrah.

Thomas’s novel was inspired by the legendary activist and music artist Tupac Shakur’s iconic “Thug Life” tattoo across his stomach, which he said was an acronym for “The Hate You Give Little Infants F—s Everybody.”

The first 30 minutes of the film is directly extracted from Thomas’s novel that has been on the New York Times best-seller list for 82 weeks now.

Director George Tillman Jr. expertly builds suspense using heavy breathing in his powerful interpretation of the popular young-adult novel, courageously taking on racial injustice and police brutality in Black communities which parallels with today’s problems with police criminality and impunity by way of a breathtakingly confident performance from its star, Amandla Stenberg.

Stenberg is code-switching between two worlds: the poor, overly policed neighborhood where she lives and the rich, mostly White, prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a White police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr decides to find her voice and stand up for what she feels is right.

Her character experiences residual trauma throughout her life living in a community that is flooded with drugs and drive-by shootings with few employment opportunities. At no point in the film is it suggested that Starr seeks professional help processing the trauma, which is reflective of what often happens in the Black community.

“It’s not a part of Black culture,” Stenberg told The Informer. “We have a tendency to push through, which is unfortunate and something that I hope shifts. It is so important to have the conversation about mental health. We don’t even have conversations around mental illness. As soon as we talk about mental illness, it’s like that doesn’t exist for us — ‘We don’t do that.’ But we do. We truly do.”

Oscar Grant, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Kimani Gray, Kiwane Carrington, Victor Steen, DeAunta Terrel Farrow, James Brisette and countless more. You think you have heard this story — and you have — yet this movie provides hope on an issue that seems irreparable.

You are forced to acknowledge and consider police brutality and injustice for the families by failing to indict the murderers of our society and the part you play in it. It challenges the worldview on both sides of the aisle; whether you speak up or “mind your business” by choosing to remain silent.

“Five years ago this movie would not have been made,” Tillman told The Informer.

Some schools and jurisdictions prevented this story from being distributed to the youth due to the language, drugs, and “anti-police” content. Neither the book nor the movie are anti-police they are anti-police brutality — there is a big difference.

Maverick educates his children about knowing your rights and how to conduct oneself when approached by the police. Is it enough to know what to do?

People from different social classes are coming together to start the conversation on how to make a change. During a Multicultural Media Correspondents Association panel discussion in northwest D.C., Regina Hall and Russell Hornsby, two of the film’s stars, spoke out about the Black family unit and the effect that it has on the community.

“Husbands love their wives. Wives love their husbands and they love their children,” Hornsby said.

The movie accurately reflects issues that Black families are confronted with on a daily basis with the blended families, incarcerated fathers, and secondary families members stepping into to fill in the gaps. Unfortunately, most of those aspects of the movie are predictable. The point of the film is that we have become conditioned to violence in our community and aren’t doing anything about it.

The unique lesson in this movie is how the community tackles the injustice. Starr finds her voice and stands up for what she feels is right by effectively protesting and being unafraid to tell the truth, even at the risk of her and her family’s life.

“Hopefully the movie is a place for people to process, to grieve, to mourn, to think about their own experiences,” Stenberg said. “We made the movie for Black people. Angie wrote the book for Black people. Hopefully, they are able to feel validated by it and have the space and time to process somethings.”

After the two-hour, 12-minute movie, which delves into privilege, interracial dating and class, you will be sparked to ignite change. It examines the role we all play in speaking out against injustice.

George Tillman does an amazing job projecting this story in a way that is relatable and compelling, and with light that has never been seen on the big screen.

“The Hate U Give” comes to select theaters Friday, Oct. 5 and all theaters Oct. 19.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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