Yesterday, I finally got to watch The Hate U Give, the new Black Lives Matter film. Earlier this year, I read the book by Angie Thomas and loved it and was moved by it as well.
Let’s just say that the film had my heart aching in every way. And I truly hope that as many people as possible go to see it, if they don’t read the book. Because we all need to see this sort of thing. To feel it to our core because it’s not just a film, not just a book, but a real-life occurrence in America. Myself, my family, and my partner are lucky to be living in the UK, safe from reckless or downright racist gun use and violence.
So, about the narrative of the film, and the general narrative of when a black person is killed by a white cop, let’s discuss…
Firstly, it isn’t about hating white people or villainising them. It’s not about hating or villainising cops, either. The point is that there are some police (just like some people) who carry weapons or are in a position of power and use that to their advantage, thinking themselves above the law. Thinking themselves above the black person on the other side of things. The point is, in a courtroom, people are quick to believe the white guy or the white cop over the black person. Black people are hardly ever given the justice they deserve.
Another problem is the fact that their reaction would be different if it was not a black man from a certain kind of neighbourhood that they encountered. Too quickly do people believe that they “deserved it” or were probably dealing drugs etc and so they “brought it on themselves”. Even if the person killed is a drug dealer, they don’t deserve to be killed when they’ve done nothing wrong in that moment. And as the film highlighted, people in poor areas, who are judged frequently and shunned, feel that there is no other way out; not hope but to sell drugs. So, do the hopeless and lost deserve to be killed? Are we saying that we don’t believe in a world where a young black man can make a mistake and can’t ever redeem himself afterwards?
The fact that black people in America are afraid is disgusting. Starr’s dad coaching them on how to act if they’re pulled over is a chilling scene to read and a chilling scene to watch. And the thing is, it probably happens in many black households. They’re living in fear of the very people who are meant to protect them…that’s the point of the film…to help people realise how utterly awful that is to live with.
People think that it’s the person’s fault for running, or driving poorly, or arguing with the officer, or moving…but all of these things aren’t a big deal for white people. They don’t shake in fear when pulled over; hell, they’re pulled over less, anyway. They don’t get shot if they move. They don’t have to record their encounters. They don’t have to argue, and when they do, it’s never as bad. A guilty white man is treated better than an innocent black man…how does that add up?
Everyone having guns is downright foolish to begin with. And why are their cops so quick to “shoot to kill”? Why not shoot to maim? Shoot to warn? Shoot to stop them running? Why the chest? Why the head? Why so many shots? That’s what truly baffles me. Fair enough, say a cop really did fear for their life and thought they saw a gun, why do they have to kill to defend themselves? Are they so poorly trained that all they can do is kill?
And I may be ignorant, but the “shoot to kill” rule as self-defence seems only really a rule with black suspects, so…
And as far as I understand it, even if you accidentally kill someone, you should go to prison, right? Say all the cops who have killed black people did it by accident, why aren’t all of them sent to prison to serve a sentence? Isn’t that what Manslaughter is? No cop should be let off with no punishment at all.
If you watch the film and think it makes cops look bad, or white people for that matter, then I say read the book for clarification. I’d also say remember that Starr’s uncle is a black cop and he explained (in defence of the white cop) why they do what they do. And remember that Starr’s boyfriend is a white boy. Her friend who was racist was exaggerated in the film compared to the book as I remember it, but she was used as a way to show how white people can react to the news they hear about cops killing black people. And that was an important plot point to make, not a statement that white people are racist – remember that.
I hate that my word count is getting long because a topic like this can be discussed in a lot of detail. But hopefully, I’ve said enough to get you thinking.
See the film for what it is, an eye-opener. Emotional, real, raw, moving, scary, insightful, and important for America. Check yourself before you decide what you think about these subject areas…I don’t want to live in a world when my black children are seen as worthy of a bullet.