Social Justice In The Hate You Give

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The Hate You Give is a young adult fiction based on real life issues around racism and social justice. The common theme in the book is “Thug Life.” “Thug Life” stands for the hate you give little infants F’s everyone. The main characters are Star Carter, Khalil Harris, Maverick Carter (as known as Big Mav), Lisa Carter, Seven, King, Devante, Officer Brian Cruise (also known as one-fifteen) and Uncle Carlos.

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The main protagonist is Starr Carter. She is 16 years old and attends Williamson prep. Williamson Prep is a primarily white and wealthy school. Starr lives in Garden Heights, a primarily poor black neighborhood. Because of this Star feels torn between two worlds. These two worlds are the poverty and violence of Garden Heights and the wealth and respectability of Williamson Prep. So Starr has two versions of herself, Williamson Prep Starr and Garden Heights Starr. If Starr shows too much of Garden Heights, she’s the ghetto black Starr, too much of Williamson Prep she’s trying to be white Starr. When Star was 10 years old she watched her friend Natasha die due to gun violence. When kahlil gets shot and killed by officer one-fifteen, she does not speak on his death or admit that she is the witness in fear of how her relationships at Williamson Prep will be affected. These relationships are her boyfriend Chris, and friendships with Hailey and Maya. Later, in the book realizes that she will be judged no matter what because her skin is a weapon. So Starr stopped tolerating the racist comments and remarks that Hailey would say and opened up to Chris about her past and life in Garden Heights. Starr talks to the jury and explains to them what happened that night. When they decided not to indict one-fifteen she helps protest and uses her weapon. At the end of the book Star states “ I’ll never give, I’ll never be quiet, I promise”. This singinfigies how Star will use her new found power to help Garden Heights and report injustices.

Kahlil Harris was Starr’s childhood best friend. However, after she started attending Williamson Prep she lost contact with Kahlil and regretted it. He was from Garden Heights, and was shot and killed by officer One-Fifteen during a traffic stop. Kahlil died in Chapter 2 but was still significant to the story, without Kahlil’s death Star would not have found her voice. Khalil’s death became a catalyst for protests against racial injustice throughout the community. Kahlil had to care for his mother, Brenda, who was addicted to drugs, and grandmother, Mrs. Rosalie, who was going through chemotherapy and lost her job because of it. Khalil was invited to join the King lords gang, he refused the offer and only sold drugs to repay his mother’s debt after she stole money from King.

Maverick Carter is Starr’s Seven and Sekani’s father, Lisa’s husband, and a former felon. He taught his children what to do in the presence of law enforcement. He also taught his children the Black Panthers Ten-Point Program. Being born into the gang life, Maverick states that his father was the “biggest drug dealer” Garden Heights. So he was a King from birth. He had to protect himself since childhood as a way to survive. Because he was a “king” people would have it out for him because of his father. Since he was the child of a king people would always have his back. However, after Maverick had children, he decided the gang was not worth it anymore. He did not want his children to grow up like he did. Maverick took a drug charge for King and went to prison for three years. After those 3 years, Maverick left the gang. Maverick’s problem is that he doesn’t like white people. When Starr finally told her father that she has a boyfriend, and he is white, it angered him. When Maverick and Starr talk, he asks her what does she see in Chris and does she have a problem with black men. She wanted to know what his problem was with white people. He admits that his feelings toward Chris stemmed from his insecurity that he didn’t set a good example of black men. But Maverick learns he set a good example of what a man should be. Maverick cares for Garden Heights and at the end of the novel he learns that he can help Garden Heights without living there.

Lisa Carter is a mother to Starr and Sekani, step-mother to Seven and wife to Maverick. She is loving and supportive their lives. Lisa got pregnant with Starr as a teenager. Because of this her Nana threw her out of the house. Lisa then went and lived with Mrs. Rosalie, Khalil’s grandmother. She worked as a nurse in a Garden Heights clinic. Even Though, Seven is not her son, she still cares for him as her own. Lisa despises Garden Heights, she wants to move out of there. The crime and gang life is not what she wants her children to grow up in. However, Maverick does not want to leave, he believes that he can help Garden Heights. This causes arguments between Lisa and Maverick. At the end of the novel, Lisa gets a higher paying job and Maverick agrees to leave.

Seven is Starr’s older half-brother, and the son of Maverick and Iesha. Seven also attends Williamson Prep with Starr and Sekani. Most of the time Seven is at the Carter household. He is protective of both Starr and his other sister Kenya. However, his relationship with Iesha, his mother is strained. This is because she always chooses King over him. Eventually, Iesha kicks Seven out. Still Seven feels like it’s his duty to protect his mother. Seven is a strong presence in Starr’s life. When Starr was fighting Hailey and her brother Remy tried to get Starr off of Maya, Seven came to her defence. Seven also has the Black Panther’s Ten-Point Program memorized. Seven being as intelligent as he is, got accepted into six colleges, but he wants to remain in Garden Heights to look after Iesha and his sisters.

King is the most feared drug lord in Garden Heights. He is the father of Kenya and Lyric and boyfriend to Iesha. King is also extremely abusive towards them all. King wanted Kahlil to join the king gang, but when he refused, he tried to lay a gray bandana across Khalil’s body at his funeral. King threatens Starr repedately for speaking about Khalil’s murder. King would rather Khalil’s death to go unspoken in order to save himself and his drug business. King even went as far as beating Mr.Lewis for saying his name in a television interview.

Devante is a teenager from Garden Heights. In the beginning of the story his brother was killed at Big D’s party. Devante only got with the King Lords for the same reason Kahlil did, to help support his family. They even at one point sold drugs together. DeVante wants out of the King gang because he stole from King to help his sisters and mother get out of Garden Heights. He turned to Maverick on help getting out of the gang. He helps Starr understand that people turn to gangs and drugs when they don’t have other choices. King Lords offered De Vante protection and support he’d never had before in his life. He also told Starr that Khalil wasn’t in a gang and only sold drugs to pay back his mother’s debt.

Officer Brian Cruise is the officer that kills Kahlil Harris. He is known through the book as one-fifteen. This is his badge number that Starr remembers him by. Officer Brian acts as the overarching antagonist. He represents everything that is wrong with our justice system in real life, corruption within the police force, police brutality and racism. One-Fifteen is described as being in his mid-thirties to early forties with a buzz cut and scar above his lip. He states his reason for shooting Kahlil was out of fear for his life.

Uncle Carlos is Lisa’s older brother and a detective on the same police force as One-Fifteen. He was a second father figure to Starr while Maverick was in jail. He helped Lisa care for her children until Maverick got out. This causes tension between Maverick and Carlos. Starr had once asked could she call him dad, and he refused because she already has a father. Carlos lives in a gated community with his wife Pam. He onced lived in Garden Heights but moved out, and became a cop to help Garden Heights. Carlos initially questions why Starr was in the car with a drug dealer. He defends officer-one fifteen. Throughout the story, however, Carlos finally realizes that no matter what Kahlil was doing he had no right to be killed. When Starr tells Carlos that Officer Brian held his gun on her he snaps and punches one-fifteen in the face. This results in him having a forced leave of absence.

There are a lot of “great ideas” in The Hate You Give. One great idea that stood out to me was Different identities or two-facing. In the book the author explores the tensions between how people of color see themselves and how the world sees them.Starr has two different versions of herself, Williamson Prep and Garden Heights. She has to change the way she talks and acts around her white counterparts. Starr states “I choose every word carefully and make sure I pronounce them well. I can never, ever let anyone think I’m ghetto”. If she gets too loud or acts out of “order” she is made out to be ghetto. When Star and Seven were fighting Maya and Remy and got suspended Lisa states “ This is exactly what They expect you to do, two kids from Garden Heights, acting like you ain’t got no sense.” This is one of the problems the book addresses. As soon as you walk into a room you’re judged on the spot. When Starr was on the way to the network news interview, she realizes that her family is dressed not to look like hoodrats. The Carters must change their whole persona around to try and “ fit in”. The book address that no matter where you are or how different you try to act, you are who you are. 

29 April 2022

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