“The Hate U Give”: Getting Beyond Black Lives Matter

The Hate U Give goes through 30 minutes of polemic setup before it finds its cinematic reality. The awkward structure of a Black Lives Matter film as it stumbles into its footing has a black girl living two separate public personas: one reserved, polite, studious prep school and the other more natural, soulful, Ebonics and a little ghetto savvy. The plot facts remain faithfully stubborn to the genre: the police are prejudice, the shooting reflects this, the kid is innocent and the grand jury finds the cop not guilty.

In between all this The Hate U Give finds its grace notes and depth. The black activist, the reluctant witness, the upward aspiring mom rising and raising up her children, the drug dealer all collide, merge and are edified with the raising of Starr’s (a phenomenal “star” turn from Amandla Stenberg) political and social consciousness. Like the young adult novel by Angie Thomas (and the best of young adult fiction) it is based on, its greatness is reflected in how well it absorbs and extends the best of its main character onto a corrupted and needy world.

The world needs both a Jesus and a Starr to save it, to break the cycle where the racist cop can find enough humanity in front of him to make the hard choice not to shoot. The power of The Hate U Give is that it achieves the wisdom to work through the hate and give peace a chance. It struggles through the fog, the tear gas, the violence of the heart to insist on the right way above the easy way.

The Hate U Give finds a way beyond Black Lives Matter.

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