The Hate U Give' Theme Essay

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THUG LIFE, Tupac Shakur’s famous acronym serves as inspiration for The Hate U Give. “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody,” is a statement that creates the foundation for the Black Lives Matter movement and the story of Starr Carter, a 16-year-old girl who decided to accept a ride home from a childhood friend, only to watch him shot before her eyes by the very person whose duty it is to protect her.

The Hate U Give is more than just a novel, it is a biography of African Americans discussing race, injustice, and belonging in society. Starr Carter’s identity and Khalil’s death are heavily influenced by their race. Starr’s attendance at Williamson Prep, a school that she drives across the city to attend made up of a majority of white students, versus Garden Heights, the predominantly black neighborhood in which she lives, reflects that Starr feels the need to be two different versions of herself. Starr feels torn between making sure she is not seen as “too black” at school and making sure she is not “too white” at home. The Hate U Give also acknowledges the stereotypes, racism, and cultural biases to which African Americans are subjected.

Thomas uses the death of a young man, Khalil, to reveal the prevalent and harmful events that African Americans face in society. Issues of police brutality and protests are spotlighted as the novel engages in the broad conversation about race relations in America. The media presents new cases of unjust shootings almost every day to which protests seem to follow. This is the message that Tupac and Thomas were both trying to convey. The more unjust violence that is allowed and/or excused the more resentment will follow and with resentment comes hate. The more hate that is created is “fucks” everybody. The theme of injustice is put at the forefront of the novel when Khalil is unarmed and shot by Officer One-Fifteen and the ongoing investigation that stemmed from the event.

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Throughout the novel, Starr focuses on getting justice not only for Khalil but also for African Americans as well as other oppressed groups, such as the poor. Starr joins a group called Just Us for Justice that fights against the mistreatment of police and the law based on race. Although Starr realizes that injustice may continue she is adamant in fighting against it. Just like Starr, it is important to acknowledge wrongdoings and to do something about it if at all possible. Angie Thomas conveyed the message throughout the novel that if society continues to accept the mistreatment of others or to be silent when it is seen, then change will never be implemented. From the very beginning of the novel, Starr struggles with feeling as though she does not belong. At Williamson Prep, Starr censors her behavior to fit in, to avoid being stereotyped as “ghetto.” However, in Garden Heights when Starr goes to Big D’s spring break party, she feels like she does not belong. This becomes evident by people commenting that she thinks she is “all that” and has not hung out with them enough ever since she started attending Williamson. Initially, Starr is never able to fully be herself; however, as the novel progresses, Starr learns to embrace both sides of herself from her personality to her friends and family. Her inner thoughts provide insight into what it is like to be a minority in a world that claims all people are equal, how stereotypes play a huge role in the way others are treated, and how others view themselves because of stereotypes.

I believe that students will relate to The Hate U Give no matter what their race is. Although the book’s central theme involves race, the book embodies a multitude of relatable topics. Starr’s display of courage and compassion and the importance of using words and actions and why this is important are good conversations to have if an incident like this occurred. Also, the use of phones in the story can be talked about and why it gave Starr power in a certain situation where she would not have had any. With iGeneration students, many of them spend their time on the internet or their phones and understand the power of social media and the effects of posting pictures and/or videos. In the novel, the use of cell phones plays a significant role, especially when it comes to recording important events.

I would encourage first-year students to read this novel by explaining to them the relevance it has in today’s world. Whether one believes in the Black Lives Matter movement or not, the novel is still important to read because it provides perspective either way. Students will also get some perspective as to what it is like to live a double life. Throughout the novel, Starr struggles with feeling like she has to be two different versions of herself. In college, it is a constant battle trying to find one’s identity. The novel explains a lot of internal conflicts with Starr when it comes to choosing who she is at school and who she is at home. I think that many first-year students can relate to this as they balance finding new friends in college, finding new interests, and being away from family & friends back home.

To encourage participation in the Common Reading Program by promoting thoughts on what they would have done if they were in Starr’s shoes, how the book made them feel, or if they have ever experienced a situation similar to Starr’s where they were afraid to speak out and if they felt like they should have stayed silent or said something. By creating a role-playing/reversal activity where students are asked to “step into someone else’s shoes” this experience will provide insight into a viewpoint other than their own. The activity will be led by students who will draw from their own experiences. For example, Latino students might enact teaching an elementary class where they teach entirely in Spanish to demonstrate their own childhood experiences where their teachers may have taught in English. African-American students might role-play someone being followed in a store and questioned about shoplifting. After the activity is over, students will discuss what stereotypes or cultural biases they observed and what actions, if any, they can take to eliminate these stereotypes and biases.

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The Hate U Give’ Theme Essay. (2024, February 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 18, 2024, from
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