A couple of summers ago, I read the book ‘The Hate You Give’ by Angie Thomas and it has stayed with me everyday since. The book follows the life of an African- American teen, Starr. It details Starr’s experience as a black person living in America, exploring her experience growing up in a poor, Black neighbourhood, attending a predominately White, elite school, and most significantly her experience with American ‘cops’, the most recent being a fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil, also African American, where she happened to be present. The book highlights the struggles of minority races, in this instance Black Americans in particular, so for me, as I read it from a white-British perspective, I found it incredibly eye-opening.
In 2018, 20th Century FOX released a film version of the book, starring the incredible Amandla Stenburg who I believe gave a sensational performance. One of the scenes which I found the most poingant became even more so this week, as social media flooded with the atrocity of George Floyd’s murder. With the outrage that was sparked his murder (I refuse to see it as anything else), the #Blacklivesmatter was brought back into the spotlight. As videos, posters, websites consumed my social media feeds, I stumbled across one video that moved me significantly. The video consisted of Black parents talking to their children about their race, and what impacts it may have on their lives. The first 30 seconds showed a young girl demonstrating to her father what she would do if an armed ‘cop’ was to question her. The young girl put her arms in the air, said her name, age (she was eight years old!!!) and declared that she was unarmed. For most privileged people like me who luckily have never had to think about this, this would have been enough to distress them, however for me it was my reading and viewing of ‘The Hate You Give’ that doubled the impact. One of the most heavily emphasised parts of the book, and one of the most memorable scenes of the movie, was when Starr’s father explained this situation to her and they practiced together, just as this young girl had done in the video and undoubtedly many times throughout her life. The fact that this moment/ scene is completely a normality in Black Americans lives, reminds me that what I read that summer wasn’t fiction. It was real. People have to go through that everyday, and that breaks my heart.
I live an extremely privileged life, and I am grateful for everything I have. I have a secure family, I live in a safe neighbourhood and I have never had to worry about the colour of my skin. No matter how rough my life may get at some points, I always remember that I am privileged and it hurts me that others don’t get to be the same way. We all share the same biology, live in the same place, and want the same things, so why are some treated so unequally? Unfortunately, we have built a society where not everyone sees things in this light, which is why it is vital that those of us that do, take a stand and ensure that those who discriminate, abuse, or terrorise others, for any reason (race, sexuality, gender) know that they are in the minority. I can do all the research I want, I can donate to every ‘go fund me’ I find, I can talk to all the people I can, but I am aware that I am never going to understand the struggles people face because of their race. Therefore, I have to use my advantage to do my part in creating a change. I am not going to stay silent because I don’t look like the people I am fighting for, I am not going to back down because friends or family don’t agree with me, I am going to support those who need it until we are equal because then, maybe one day, me and millions of others won’t need to fight anymore, because maybe we will all be seen as one. As the human race. As we should be.
I strongly recommend ‘The Hate You Give’, both the book and film are very moving. It is an easy read (in terms of ability), but there is so much to gain, and it is particularly good at reminding those of us that do benefit in society to be grateful and humble for our lives. Please, if you have got this far, voice your opinion, remind people that racism is not okay- in any form- and don’t just fight for your own. No one can fight this crisis alone. You need more than one hose to put out a house fire.
Donate to George’s Family- https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd
The Hate You Give trailer- https://youtu.be/3MM8OkVT0hw