More than fifty years have passed since the founding of the Black Panthers in 1966: a political organization determined to contest police brutality against African Americans. Although the party officially dismantled in 1982, their fight for civil rights has sadly remained relevant into the new century and their core beliefs continue to inspire social justice. Adapted from the 2017 award-winning novel, ‘The Hate U Give’ is a commanding film that adds to the Black Lives Matter movement and gives another voice to those who have unfairly lost their lives at the hands of men and women in blue. Don’t let the young-adult label fool you, because this engaging movie doesn’t hold back and packs serious ammunition!
Eliminating any notions that this is a frivolous drama, ‘The Hate U Give’ opens distressingly and to the point. Gathered around the dinner table with his family, we meet Maverick Carter (Russell Hornsby), an ex-convict who has recently returned home from serving time. “This is the ten-point program,” he says while sliding two pieces of paper with the Black Panthers logo towards his children, “and I want you to memorize it.” It’s not soon after that we begin to learn the hard truths this family of color has to endure and the preparations they make for routine traffic stops. As the film flashes forward to a teenage Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) preparing for school, she explains that her parents decided to send her brother Seven (Lamar Johnson) and her to a prep-school to escape the traps of their impoverished neighborhood.
“When I’m here, I’m Starr version 2,” her voiceover announces as she navigates through a sea of white students, “and basically Williamson’s Starr doesn’t give anyone a reason to call her ghetto.” Progressing into the pivotal act, we find Starr sitting in her friend Khalil’s (Algee Smith) car after a party they both were forced to flee. The rhymes of 2Pac can be heard in the background, foreshadowing not only the tragedy to come but the truth behind the current issues their community faces. After Khalil’s death, a conflicted Starr begins to question the system and the people she surrounds herself with until she finally feels empowered to demand justice for her slaughtered friend.
‘The Hate U Give‘ is a radical statement on today’s political, economic and racial state of affairs. The intense cast performances draw from the powerful source material and bring an emotional punch to the prominent subject matter. Heart-wrenching, unforgettable and intelligent, ‘The Hate U Give‘ will have viewers holding back tears and leaving with a better understanding of what it means to be privileged. This film ultimately advocates for standing up for your rights, even at the hands of adversity. It deserves to be seen and if you’ll let it, heard.