Compare and Contrast Essay about Starr from 'The Hate U Give'

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A recent news report states that in Toronto, Black individuals are most likely to be harmed or killed by Toronto Police officers rather than white individuals. From 2013-2017, nine out of fifteen police shootings of black people caused crucial death and harmful damage. Despite the fact that black people make up 8.8 % of Toronto’s population, they were found to be engaged in seven out of ten instances of police shootings in which they were assaulted forcefully and sexually by police because of improper and unwarranted charges (Hayes). The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, is about a sixteen-year-old black girl named Starr Carter, who is stuck between two worlds; Garden heights which is a black poor neighborhood, and her bougie white school. Her life alters when she witnesses her childhood best friend get shot by a white police officer who ends up receiving no charges. She faces stress and pressure from the people around her to use her voice to defend Khalil. Kenya and Starr’s inflamed argument causes Starr to participate in a live unidentified interview on TV regarding Khalil and Ms. Ofrah's remarks about the hairbrush and her guidance for Starr leads her to bravely speak up for Khalil.

Starr takes a stand for Khalil due to Kenya’s shameful comments of making Starr feel like a “‘coward’’’. First, Kenya boldly criticizes Starr for remaining silent for Khalil on his behalf. After the police humiliate Maverick by throwing him to the ground, Kenya gets angry at Starr for staying quiet about Khalil. Kenya argues, ‘“Why are you keeping quiet ‘bout it? [...] Tell everybody what really happened that night. [...] Here you are, with a chance to help change what happens in our whole neighborhood, and you staying quiet. Like a coward”’ (197-198). Kenya accuses Starr of being ashamed of Garden Heights by abandoning the neighborhood, Khalil, and Kenya for her ease of life. This greatly hits Starr because deep down inside, Starr is aware that this is the real truth, and seeing her father get degraded by the police just because Starr is blaming One-Fifteen for Khalil’s death, provokes her to reconsider her actions and concerns. This talk eventually sparks courage in Starr which forces her to show bravery a few days later during the anonymous interview. Consequently, as a result of Kenya’s talk, Starr demonstrates courage and speaks up in the interview with the DA. During the interview organized by Ms.Ofrah, Starr narrates, “One-Fifteen pointed his gun at me.” Starr then says, ‘“I’m tired of them assuming. Especially when it comes to black people”’ (289). This indicates that Starr finally gains the courage in order to address her feelings towards systematic racism when she takes Kenya’s irking comments into account and speaks up. Kenya’s shameful criticism impacts Starr’s mindset because it makes her realize that avoiding the situation will only enable the brutality in the neighborhood to continue. She continuously grows confident throughout the entire interview, revealing her frustration about society characterizing her and Khalil as criminals while also revealing that Officer One-Fifteen pointed his gun at her. Starr adds that she is not afraid of the cops, but is exhausted by the belief that black people are dangerous. In conclusion, Kenya significantly sparks bravery in Starr by opening her eyes to the bitter truth of Starr being ashamed of everyone in Garden Heights and Khalil, which causes Starr to eventually open up and talk about her emotions to the entire world.

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Ms. Ofrah also inspires Starr to speak up by letting her know about the “‘so-called gun’’’ and pushing her to let her voice be heard. First, Starr finding out about the hairbrush from Ms. Ofrah infuriates her that Khalil died over such a ridiculous object. When Starr is nervous about answering the questions about the gun to the Grand Jury, Ms. Ofrah shows Starr a picture of Khalil’s hairbrush and remarks, ‘“That’s the so-called gun, [...] The handle was thick enough, black enough, for him to assume it was a gun”’(217). Ms. Ofrah makes Starr realize that Officer One-Fifteen was so blinded by racist speculations about Black people’s wrongdoings which caused him to immediately assume that Khalil had a weapon. This act changes Starr’s mindset and drives her to fight for justice with the help of Ms. Ofrah. Second, Ms. Ofrah gives valuable advice to Starr which encourages her to fearlessly speak up later on. After the grand jury’s decision, Starr insists she wants to do something to help. Ms. Ofrah then hands the bullhorn to Starr and recalls, ‘“Remember what I told you about your voice? [...] Use your weapon.’’’ Starr then narrates, ‘‘The bullhorn is as heavy as a gun’’ (410-411). When Starr has the bullhorn and claims it is difficult to lift, this is a link between the bullhorn and the gun which expresses Starr's voice's weight at this moment. Starr realizes with Ms. Ofrah's advice that she is the only one capable of using her voice to defend Khalil since she was present for the events of that night. Standing in the same spot where Khalil was shot, Starr is no longer afraid anymore and completely grasps her capability to demand justice. In conclusion, Ms. Ofrah opens Starr’s eyes by clearing her confusion on the object Khalil was reaching for while also enlightening her to take a step toward activism.

In Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, the two main characters who inspire Starr to stand up and speak out for Khalil are Kenya and Ms. Ofrah. Kenya’s shaming comments towards Starr humiliate her which results in Starr attending an anonymous interview on TV and defending Khalil. In addition, Ms. Ofrah clears Starr’s doubt about the hairbrush and urges her to utilize her voice for activism. The Hate U Give teaches the readers that police can be violent and unfair towards African Americans due to structural racism which leads to elevated levels of police killings of black people. In 2019, roughly 750 citizens were shot and killed by the police, in which 150 of them were black (“People Shot to Death by U.S. Police, by Race 2019”). This proves that black people tend to be victims of shootings and deaths more than white individuals because of how the structural system works. Black Lives Matter is an act of activism by exposing the police in unjust situations. Similarly, Starr also had the courage to talk back to the police officers during the riot which proves that she has the bravery to expose the police officers to stand up for herself and the black community.

Works Cited

    1. Hayes, Molly. “Black people more likely to be injured or killed by Toronto Police officers.” The Globe and Mail, Dec 10, 2018, Accessed 18 Dec. 2019.
    2. “People Shot to Death by U.S. Police, by Race 2019.” Statista, Statista Research Department, Oct 30, 2019, Accessed 18 Dec. 2019.
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Compare and Contrast Essay about Starr from ‘The Hate U Give’. (2023, November 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from
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