“The Hate U Give,” a story about being a story, is a masterful representation of pride, courage and love. “Your voice is your weapon.” This line encompasses the beautiful concept of this film. Starr (Amandla Stenberg), a black teenage girl, lives in the fictional poor and predominantly black neighborhood Green Heights, and attends a predominantly white upper class private school in an affluent neighborhood. As a consequence, her personality is split in two.
Starr hides who she is at her school, afraid of being a victim of racial stereotypes and stigmas. She hides her cultured and educated side, afraid of betraying her neighborhood by attending a privileged high-end school. She lives this double life and hides her true-self until she witnesses the murder (by the hands of a cop) of her childhood best friend, Khalil (Algee Smith). The barely standing equilibrium breaks. Silence cannot be an option.
The film explores the consequences of the broken system our world thrives on, as well as the injustice, the hatred, the shame, and the fear that fills all our hearts. Your voice is your power. Even if it seems that no matter how loud you scream no one hears, someone is always listening. A story is nothing but a voice, a loud scream. “The Hate U Give” is a voice in the crowd. It is a voice screaming about injustice, hatred, pride and self-love.
The underprivileged are shamed. Their identity is seen as their weakness; it is treated as if it should be hidden and degraded. Identity is always a strength. Pride in that identity always leads to success. Starr shows to those listening and watching how true that is. Stenberg, with her extraordinary performance, guides the viewers through her growth, from passive acceptance to rebellious activism. A broken system must not be accepted. It must be fought. Your voice is your greatest weapon.
A perfectly built climax accompanies the audience from a starting slow rhythm growing every second to the moment of release, truth and power: Starr screaming at the top of her lungs. She was once hidden in the dark and now she finally shines; she is finally true to her name.
The film brings to the screen the seemingly undefeatable, subtle, unaware, painful and destructive racism that plagues society. It questions everyone’s role in the fight to defeat this plague. Everyone needs to stand up. The most powerful weapons — your voices — must be used.
“The Hate U Give”, based on the novel by Angie Thomas, was directed by George Tillman Jr. The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. As of Nov. 2, it holds a 97% approval rating based on 167 reviews on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
“The Hate U Give”, a critically acclaimed film, should be seen by everyone. Stenberg’s extraordinary performance, the beautifully written script and the film’s great emotional power will make up for a very pleasurable and entertaining two hours. However, it must be seen for its powerful message. “The Hate U Give” is a story that wisely uses the power stories have. It acts as a vehicle to spread awareness, to open eyes. It is a plea to join the fight for equality.
Jacqueline Pantano can be contacted at