“T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E.” is a mantra that was made popular by the late and legendary rapper Tupac Shakur. However, little know the meaning behind the acronym: “The Hate U Give Little Infants [expletive] Everybody.” Inspired by this acronym, Tupac’s activism and the Black Lives Matter movement, author Angie Thomas wrote the novel “The Hate U Give” and approximately a year later it has been made into a movie you simply can’t miss.
16-year-old Starr Carter, played by Amandla Stenberg, constantly finds herself trying to please people in both of her worlds. Her predominantly black neighborhood of Garden Heights is the place she has always called home. However, at her preppy, primarily white school, Williamson, she shows a different side. “Basically, Williamson Starr doesn’t give anyone a reason to call her ghetto,” says Angie Thomas.
One night, after a party in her neighborhood turns violent, Starr and her childhood friend Khalil are pulled over by an apprehensive white police officer. Starr has been prepared for this situation since childhood, but Khalil is less willing to put his head down and and hands on the dash. What seems like a split second later, Khalil is shot when he reaches for his hairbrush and the police officer mistakes it for a gun. The scene is both effective and heart-wrenching, sparking adrenaline and anger in anyone who watches it.
After the killing of Khalil, Starr finds it harder to straddle both worlds. Stenberg beautifully shows Starr’s grieving process. We hurt with her as she struggles to take in everything around her. For much of the film, we see her as a character who sits back rather than take action. We watch her struggle to tell her white boyfriend and friends what happened. Finally, with the help of activist April Ofrah and her father, Starr finally decides to defend Khalil as the man she knew him to be despite the media trying to paint him as a thug.
This film tackles a storyline that can sometimes sound preachy, and makes a youth adult movie relatable to everyone. “The Hate U Give” does not only show a hesitant girl become a woman, but it shows how even in a society seemingly so full of despair, we can have hope.