We live in a time when movies are released that are important to our present reality.
They deal with contemporary issues and challenges around which there is very little rational discussion. “The Hate U Give” is a movie that needs to be seen and discussed.
The story centers on Starr Carter (Amanda Stenberg), a high school student who lives two lives.
Her first life is grounded in the “hood.” Starr’s father, Maverick (Russell Hornsby), runs a grocery store there. He was once a gang member who served time in prison and knows how things are on the streets.
The movie begins with Maverick teaching a younger Starr and her brother what they are to do if a police officer stops them.
He has them memorize the 10-point plan of the Black Panthers and drills them on their knowledge of it.
They are to place their hands upon the dash and be respectful and to answer any question asked without attitude.
The other world she lives in is a private school to which her parents send her and her brothers. It is full of white children, except for them.
Her father wants them to get a better education than the public schools in their neighborhood offer.
Starr has white girlfriends and a white boyfriend. This makes things complicated in the second act of the movie.
Starr and her childhood friend, Khalil (Algee Smith), meet at a house party. When gunfire erupts, they make a quick retreat to Khalil’s car.
While they are driving, a white police officer pulls them over. Starr immediately places her hands on the dash and begs Khalil to do the same.
He resists because his attitude is that he has done nothing wrong, so why do this?
The police officer pulls Khalil out of the car and has him stand with his hands on the car top.
The officer is in his car calling in the stop when Khalil reaches into the car to get a brush. The officer sees this and immediately shoots him dead.
Starr gets taken to the police station and is treated as if she did something wrong.
The officers tell her that Khalil was a drug dealer for the gang leader, King (Anthony Mackie).
This scene is intended to suggest that the fatal shooting was someone who deserved to die.
That attitude spills over into Starr’s school life. Her friend, Hailey (Sabrina Carpenter), holds the opinion that Khalil died because he was a bad person.
Starr, being the only witness to the shooting, struggles over what to do with what she knows.
Does she speak up and draw unwanted attention to herself or remain silent and try to live her life the best way she can?
“The Hate U Give” presents the reality of shooting unarmed black men into clear focus.
One of the scenes in the movie is between Starr and her uncle, Carlos (Common), who is a member of the police force.
He explains to her what happens when a police officer stops someone like Khalil.
They do not know the intention of the person stopped. They do not know if they are bad people. They do not know if they are armed. Carlos says that the officer who shot Khalil was doing what he was trained to do.
Starr asks what would happen when they stop a white man driving a Mercedes. The scenes show a man doing exactly what Khalil did – reaching into the car to get something.
Carlos says that the officer would say, “Hands up.” Starr asks why the difference.
“The Hate U Give” hits all the right notes in discussing race and gun violence. We see how these matters touch and change lives negatively.
I highly recommend this movie to be viewed by anyone who wants to understand better what it is like to be African-American in our nation today.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic elements, some violent content, drug material and language.
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Writer: Audrey Wells, based on the novel by Angie Thomas.
Cast: Amanda Stenberg (Starr Carter), Regina King (Lisa Carter), Russell Hornsby (Maverick Carter), Anthony Mackie (King), Common (Carlos), Algee Smith (Khalil).
The movie’s website is here.
Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.