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In 'The Hate U Give,' A Portrait Of Police Violence, Code-Switching And More

This image released by 20th Century Fox shows Amandla Stenberg in a scene from "The Hate U Give." (Erika Doss/20th Century Fox via AP)
This image released by 20th Century Fox shows Amandla Stenberg in a scene from "The Hate U Give." (Erika Doss/20th Century Fox via AP)

With David Folkenflik

A black teenager sees a friend killed by a white police officer. That’s the storyline of the new film “The Hate U Give.” The director and young activists tell their stories.


George Tillman Jr., Film director, producer and screenwriter known for his films “Soul Food,” “Barbershop,” “Men of Honor” and “Notorious,” among others. Director of “The Hate U Give.” (@George_Tillman)

Kaia Hines, 16-year-old junior at Franklin High School, which is outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She’s a program coordinator at Leaders Igniting Transformation Milwaukee, a nonprofit organization led by youth of color that organizes young people around issues related to political power, and social, racial and economic justice.

Alycia Moaton, 17-year-old senior at Kenwood Academy in Chicago. Member and Organizer with Good Kids, Mad City, an advocacy organization that includes young people from Baltimore and Chicago who are working to end violence in their cities

Demitrius Doward, 17-year-old junior at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School in New York City. He’s a member of Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, an organization that trains leaders to fight against, and end, anti-black racism and systemic violence.


From The Reading List

The Guardian: “The Hate U Give review – a defiant challenge to divided America” — “If ever a movie resonated with a news image it’s this one, with the extraordinary shot of nurse Ieshia Evans at a protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2016, where she faced down three cops in full riot gear while wearing a flimsy frock. She did this with all the floaty calmness of Botticelli’s Venus. The Hate U Give is a fierce, dynamic movie with a terrific performance from Amandla Stenberg as Starr, a high-school student who becomes witness to a callous cop shooting, and her performance seems to be channelling some of the defiance and miraculous strength despite vulnerability in that famous picture.”

New York Times: “Microaggressions at School? The ‘Hate U Give’ Team Has Been There” — “When Angie Thomas first began writing ‘The Hate U Give,’ her best-selling novel about a black teenager dealing with microaggressions and worse at a predominantly white prep school, she looked to movies for inspiration. ‘I wanted “The Hate U Give” to be almost a girl version of “Boyz N the Hood,”‘ she remembered. ‘That movie was a huge influence on me. And I was like, are there any movies from that era, or even currently, that deal with black girls in situations like this?’ ”

Vulture: “Amandla Stenberg Knew The Hate U Give Was a Success Based on the Number of White People Crying” — “Stopping by ‘The Daily Show’ With Trevor Noah Monday night, ‘The Hate U Give’ star Amandla Stenberg discussed the one clear-cut sign that, to her, meant the recently released film version of Angie Thomas’s YA novel about police brutality had triumphed. ‘It’s meant to be a tool of empathy,’ she said. ‘And so far it’s been really successful. We’ve had a lot of white people crying after, which is great.’ Laughed the actress, ‘I’ve never seen so many white people crying before. It’s amazing.’

“Stenberg also touched on the film’s depiction of code-switching, racism, and police brutality. Of course, you’d think everyone would be able to empathize with victims of police brutality, but, unfortunately, that’s not the America we live in, which is why Stenberg and the movie’s makers hoped the movie would help humanize black victims to viewers who might only be exposed to police violence via the evening news. When asked by Noah what her hopes are for the film, \’beyond white people crying,’ Stenberg laughed, ‘White people crying actually was the goal.’ ”

The movie “The Hate U Give” tells the story of Starr Carter, an African-American teenager shuttling between dueling realities — her predominantly black, lower-income neighborhood and her predominantly white and affluent private school. The movie explores police shootings of African-Americans, the ravages of the drug trade and paths for hope.

This hour, On Point: We talk to the film’s director, George Tillman Jr., and then to three young African-American activists.

— David Folkenflik

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.