It is impossible to be unarmed when our Blackness is the weapon that they fear.
The Hate U Give (2018) is a powerful movie. Its ultimate power stems not so much from its indictment of institutional and systemic racism but from its positive portrayal of Blackness. The film, and the outstanding book from which it grew, focus on Starr Carter and those close to her, especially her father. The Hate U Give shows Black people who preserver and who stick together and who look out for others and who are intelligent and who are imperfect.
In a historical moment marked by absolute hatred toward those who are racialized as something other than White due to the current POTUS and his evil behavior, the significance of such representations cannot be understated. Black children and their families will see this movie and/or read this book and hopefully have some additional notion of hope, especially in this era that seems all too hopeless. People need to see and hear stories about people who look like them.
The statement voiced through Starr’s character and engraved in the epigraph above deserves dedicated attention.
“It is impossible to be unarmed when our Blackness is the weapon that they fear.”
Such a powerful metaphor. Blackness as the weapon. Blackness that single-handedly strikes people with the fear of death. In one of all too many perfect ironies of History, Black people are seen as the dangerous ones when its actually Whiteness that has been, and often continues to be, weaponized.
Unlike The Help and such texts discussed in my dissertation, The Hate U Give does not rely on tropes. There’s no “White Savior Figure.” There’s no “Brutal Black Buck” either. There’s no broken family.
The Hate U Give is something like a docudrama of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. When I first read the novel last January, my reaction was that it has the potential of becoming another “Coming of Age in Mississippi.” I maintain this position.
Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda
Categories: Thoughts and Perspectives