Reasons Why I Avoided The Hate U Give

For almost an entire year, I avoided all things drama. After two years of anxiety and depression, I wanted nothing to do with anything that made me tear or cry. I was on a roll until I watched The Hate U Give.

I tried all of the excuses: “I didn’t want to watch Black struggle porn”, “I didn’t want to watch the white hero save the day”, “It seemed low budget”. I tried it all. The more advertisements that I saw on Twitter and Instagram for the movie, the more I resented the movie. All I could think was “Jesus won’t this movie just freaking die already. I don’t care how much I love Issa Rae I’m not watching it.”

The truth is there was nothing wrong with the movie. I just did not want to watch it. It was not until my friend sat me in the theaters that I realized that I had to watch it. Maybe these reasons that I had to watch it resonates with my reader.

1. It was a predominately black cast

I am a firm believer in supporting films created by and starring black people. Thank you ThoughtCo for this awesome chart acknowledging just how few black films there are.

It is not just a numbers game when it comes to the need for more diverse films. It is a matter of representation. We as people of color are the best sources for explaining life as a person of color in the United States and the roles each person has within the black community. In particular, the movie nicely showcases the numerous ways black men influence their communities. For example, the protagonist’s father, Maverick Carter (played by Russell Hornsby), plays a major role in showcasing what it means to raise children of color in America. He made sure his children understood how to interact with White people by sending them to a predominantly white school while simultaneously making sure they never feel that their blackness is a hinderance. Despite past decisions, he is a positive role model for his family and community. In contrast, King (played by Anthony Mackie), is the neighborhood drug lord. He is a reminder of where our decisions lead us.

I could go on about each character since the movie gives each character such a unique, detailed personality with positive traits as well as flaws. However, I don’t want to give spoilers for the few who have not seen the movie.

2. It reminded me of my own gifts

As a writer, I sometimes doubt my influence in changing how people in marginalized groups are perceived. Writing is not as visually glamorous as being a march leader, big time politician or virtually any role that requires a podium. Just before watching the movie, I had a number of small doubts that my writing was worth anything. The movie gave me hope with the multiple references to Harry Potter and the internal conflict that the protagonist, Starr (played by Amandla Stenberg), has throughout the movie as whether to be a witness in court for the police murder of her friend Khalil (played by Algee Smith). There is a consistent theme of “letting your light shine”. That light can shine from many sources on the streets, in school, on the track and in front of the camera. Regardless of who you are, people who find themselves in darkness will flock to your light.

3. It reminded me that we are all being watched

I did say people will flock to your light. One of the reasons for Starr’s hesitance to speak on behalf of Khalil is the fear of exposure. Being placed on a public platform exposes the problems in her community and her home life that drastically differs from her school life. We as people like attention, but few feel comfortable being exposed and losing all or partial control of people’s perception of us. Nevertheless, in order to create change in a community, we have to accept that vulnerability.

I could relate to Start in many ways aside from the fact that we are both black girls with braids. That could have easily been a reason that I avoided the movie. Starr was a reflection of who I am and the role I have in inspiring and protecting people of marginalized groups on a small and large scale. That realization is both encouraging and horrifying.

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