Since the colonial era, the whites in America have segregated the blacks in the name of their color. The whites and police officers in America have caused both physical and psychological harm to the blacks by attacking them in the name of racism, resulting in death of many people. In Trump’s era when people are discriminated and young men are brutally attacked, writings based upon such issues help to build the sentiments of the people across the world. The student researcher, in the paper, has focused upon such issues through Angie Thomas’s novel, The Hate U Give or THUG. The novel revolves around the thug life of the blacks and the hate shown towards them, by the whites, in America. Tupac Shakur, The Black Lives Matter movement and her own life experiences have inspired her to write the book.
Starr Carter, a sixteen-year-old girl, witnesses the shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil Harris, at the hands of a police officer. It becomes a national headline and people see him in bad eyes, calling him a drug dealer. Protest begins in his name. Finally, Starr continues to seek justice for Khalil, Natasha and the other blacks who were shot dead by the cops.
The Hate U Give has been one of the most famous Young Adult books and has stood number one in the list of New York Times Bestsellers. It has also been adapted into a famous movie.
The Web of Darkness in The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
African-Americans, or the Afro-Americans, are people belonging to a minority group who were once called Negroes and now are known as the Blacks. They are primarily ancestors of the slaves brought into America from Africa, between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. The importance of activism and calling out injustice, centering around police brutality, racism and the racial biases certain people unconsciously hold is the major focus in the novel The Hate U Give, written by Angie Thomas, and the student researcher, in the paper, has focused upon the same. Her inspiration was the late rapper Tupac Shakur, who had said the THUG LIFE stood for “The Hate You Gave Little Infants F***s Everybody meaning which you should feed us as seeds, grows and blows up in your face.” (Hip Hop Classic 00:04-00:16).
The novel, The Hate U Give, is about a sixteen-year-old girl, Starr Carter, who balances the struggle within her two lives- her Garden Heights (her poor neighborhood) life and her Williamson (her posh high school) life. However, finally, everything gets shattered once she witnesses her childhood best friend Khalil Harris’s fatal killing by the police.
Angie Thomas is a famous novelist who has majorly focused upon the problems of the Afro-Americans in America, in both her writings. She is well known for her books The Hate U Give and On the Come Up.
Her first novel, The Hate U Give, was a #1 New York Times Best Seller under the category of Young Adult Books, just one week after it was published.
In the story, Starr goes back home with her friend Khalil after a party. On the way, a police officer by the badge number ‘One-Fifteen’ stops them. Things get worse and suddenly the police shoots Khalil. This is understood when she says, “he pats Khalil down…falls to the ground.” (26-27) Throughout the novel Starr highlights the incidents, especially, the murder of her best friends Khalil and Natasha. In America, the huge police force is considered as being the primary agent of racism and criminalization of the black community. In the recent times too, major killings have taken place, and the author has highlighted these cases in the last few lines of the novel, “It’s also about Oscar. Aiyana. Trayvon. Rekia. Michael. Eric. Tamir. John. Ezell. Sandra. Freddie. Alton. Philando. It’s even about that little boy in 1955 who nobody recognized at first-Emmet”. (437) In one interview, the author had said, “When these unarmed black people lose their lives, the hate they’ve been given screws us all. We see it in the form of anger and we see it in the form of riots.” (Thomas)
A sort of white supremacy was built within the society during the 1900s.
A separation between the races, in America, had started because of laws, such as the Jim Crow Law, and old customs. The blacks were denied equal public amenities, going to schools and churches was divided and, even, had to live separately from whites. In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled in Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) that Afro-Americans were not U.S. citizens. “Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination in employment and banned race-based segregation, as well as sporadic efforts by successive US governments to tackle racial inequalities, racism still looms large in 21st-century America” (Houston) In the novel, Starr’s father Maverick explains to her about the problems they (Afro-Americans) face. Maverick says “Right, Lack of opportunities” “Corporate America don’t bring jobs…neighborhoods don’t prepare us well enough”. (168) In these lines, Maverick tries to say that the blacks in America do not get a proper education, job opportunities and protection from police brutality, and, rather, are seen as inferior than the whites. He also explains about their thug life-where some people get addicted to drugs as they have nothing to do and where some people sell drugs to make money for their living- “You got folks…That’s Thug Life.” (168-169)
The author, through Starr, connects the historical slavery with the present law and shows that the Afro-Americans have been suffering such a trauma for years because of which the anger and frustration within them is still present. this is seen when she says, “Daddy once told me…that rage is activated.” (193)
the Black Lives Matter is one of the most influential social movements of the post-civil rights era.
Formed on July 13, 2013 by three Afro-American women – Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi- it is “…a tool to reimagine the world where black people are free to exist, free to live.” (Garza et al.) The movement goes against racism and violence upon blacks in America. It was started after a 17-year-old unarmed boy, Trayvon Martin, was shot to death by George Zimmerman, a Florida neighbourhood watch captain, who was not held accountable for the crime he committed. It fights for a fundamental reordering of society where Black lives are free from systematic dehumanization by protesting against the various issues of racism and violence against the blacks. The movement also has been featured in albums like the famous singer Beyoncé’s Lemonade in which the song Forward features the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Rown, and Eric Garner holding their late sons’ photographs. Also, a documentary film about the movement, named Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement, starring Jesse Williams, was made in 2016.
King Gordias, founder of the capital of Phrygia, tied an intricate knot and challenged that the ruler of Asia would be the person who loosened it. Alexander the Great, finally, cut the knot with his sword and solved this problem. Hence, came the proverbial term, Gordian knot, for a big problem or an impossible task, that can be solved only by bold action. In the same manner, a Gordian knot had been built within America, from many years.
Segregation is an unending process and still prevails in America.
Youngsters are the future, but they have to deal with the injustices passed on to them by older generations. Starr’s dialogue, in the novel, shows that justice is a distant dream for the blacks when she says, “The truth casts a shadow over the kitchen–people like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it ends right.” (61) A good example of its prevalence in the present era is the time when President Trump “challenged Obama’s (the ex-Afro-American President) citizenship, called Mexicans rapists and criminals, proposed to ban all Muslims from entering the country, insisted on the need for “law and order,” argued that immigration was changing the “character” of the United States and openly courted white supremacists.” (Glaude)
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The impact of slavery, such as racism, inequality, policing and the legal system, continues to manifest within the poor black community and the white supremacy is still persistent in American society. Hence, unlike what Alexander did, it is very tough to cut this Gordian knot and remove the Web of Darkness within the country of America.