On this day in 2018, The Hate U Give was released in theaters. An emotional portrait of the impacts of police brutality on one young woman, The Hate U Give was based on the impactful young adult novel of the same name by Angie Thomas. It was Angie’s commitment to telling stories such as this one, and representing experiences like her own, that made this world-shifting film happen.
Born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1988, Angie grew up in an area riddled with poverty and police violence; her childhood home was near the home of assassinated civil rights activist Medger Evans. She witnessed a shooting at just six years old. Angie took solace in reading at the library, and was inspired to pursue writing in order to explore the world outside of what she’d seen. She received her BFA at Belhaven University, becoming the first Black student to graduate from their creative writing program.
Though she originally intended to write fantasy novels, Angie wanted her books to make more of a social impact than that. She further wanted to tell stories of Black young people like herself, giving voice to a population which had historically been silenced. She was also harrowed by the violence she’d witnessed in her childhood, and the news of the killings of individuals such as Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, and Sandra Bland.
The Hate U Give received widespread critical acclaim and spent a remarkable 80 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list.
All of this inspired Angie’s novel, The Hate U Give, which came out in 2017. The Hate U Give tells the story of Starr Carter, a young Black girl who witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed childhood friend by a police officer. Starr must mourn the loss of her friend while grappling with the decision to speak out against the injustice she’s witnessed. The novel received widespread critical acclaim and spent a remarkable 80 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. Though in 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement gained widespread attention, Angie’s novel written in 2017 was at the forefront in spreading mass awareness.
Angie’s message continued its spread when The Hate U Give was adapted into a widely acclaimed film in 2018. Amandla Stenberg, playing Starr, perfectly embodied the strength and emotional depth of Angie’s protagonist, capturing the hearts of viewers nationwide. FF2 Contributor Roza Melkumyan describes in her review of the film: “[The Hate U Give] takes controversial issues, modern-day racism in America, racial profiling, and police brutality, and it lifts them from the lips of news reporters and puts them in the hands of one remarkable young black woman who, while kneeling in handcuffs, witnesses her friend’s murder.”
While The Hate U Give shows a young Black girl struggling to decide if she should speak up, On The Come Up depicts the experience of a Black girl whose voice is heard.
Angie’s next book, On the Come Up (2019) is set in the same fictional neighborhood as The Hate U Give (Garden Heights). While The Hate U Give shows a young Black girl struggling to decide if she should speak up, On The Come Up depicts the experience of a Black girl whose voice is heard. The story revolves around Bri, a young aspiring rapper who becomes a viral sensation and must reconcile her sense of self between her fame and her experiences with poverty, violence, and racism in the world she came from.
In 2021, Angie came out with a prequel to The Hate U Give, titled Concrete Rose. This novel explores the life of Maverick Carter, Starr’s father, as a teenager caught up in the world of gang violence and street life. Concrete Rose created another heart-wrenchingly compelling character, and expanded the necessary conversation which The Hate U Give started.
Angie Thomas’s journey from a young girl frustrated by the lack of diverse voices in literature to a bestselling author and social justice advocate is inspiring. She has transformed the struggles of her childhood into art which would change the childhoods of the next generation of people like her. Her impact is a testament to the power of the Young Adult genre to start conversations which ripple throughout society, and to the power of a young Black woman who insists that their story is told.
© Julia Lasker (10/5/23) FF2 Media
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Watch The Hate U Give here.
Learn more about Angie Thomas and check out her books here.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured photo: Amandla Stenberg as Starr Carter in the film THE HATE U GIVE (2018) based on the novel by Angie Thomas. Photo Credit: TCD/Prod.DB / Alamy Stock Photo. Image ID: RBDCGB
Bottom photo: Portrait of author Angie Thomas. Photo by Imani Khayyam.