T-H-U-G Life


Image from IMDb

“The Hate U Give”

by Marvin Poindexter, Arts and Entertainment Editor

The opening title screen spells out these four letters, T-H-U-G. After seeing the title spelled out, there was one question the audience thinks about all throughout the entirety of the movie. What does THUG stand for, aside from it just being the name of the film? Obviously, there is a much more powerful and deeper meaning behind such a title, a meaning that would be explained through the course of the film.
“The Hate U Give” is a film adaptation based on the award selling novel written by Angie Thomas. Though there are differences between the two media, “What truly matters is that they both share the same DNA,” said Thomas in an interview with Entertainment Weekly (EW).
“The Hate U Give” tells a story in the life of a sixteen-year-old African American girl named Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) who witnesses her childhood best friend, Khalil (Aglee Smith), being shot and killed by a White Officer out of “self-defense”. The story takes place in a realistic fictional, black neighborhood of Garden Heights. In Garden Heights, Starr lives with her family, consisting of her Mother and Father, Lisa Carter (Regina Hall) and Maverick Carter (Russell Hornsby) as well as her two brothers, with Seven (Lamar Johnson) being the oldest of the three and Sekani (TJ Wright) being the youngest. While the Carters may live in Garden Heights, they don’t attend the public schools like the rest of the neighborhood kids. Instead, they attend a predominately white private school (Williamson). The movie explains why this is stating that “The High School is where you go to get jumped, high, or pregnant”, as well as for another reason. It’s at Williamson where Starr is “ Version 2”. Starr Version 2 or Williamson Starr “Doesn’t give anyone a reason to call her ghetto,” but hates herself for going even though she isn’t “ghetto”, it contradicts with who she is as a person, being that she is black. Being black doesn’t mean one is ghetto, the two terms aren’t and shouldn’t even be associated with each other.
“The Hate U Give” (film and novel), isn’t just another story about a black individual getting shot by a white officer, it’s more than that. It tells the story of an African American teen and the struggles she faces not just about her testifying for her best friend, but rather an African American teen finding and using her voice as an American while trying to balance her two lives.
Throughout the film, Starr not only has to worry about how she’s going to speak on Khalil’s behalf, but also trying to balance herself (Starr version 1 and Starr version 2). After the passing of Kahlil, Starr (version 1) is faced with ever so increasing pressure of not only coping with idea that her best friend is gone but how she is going to speak for him. The only way is to testify in front of a grand jury. Part of the pressure comes from Khalil who was involved with the infamous Garden Heights gang the King Lords, ran by King (Anthony Mackie). This adds pressure because of how Khalil’s involvement would jeopardize King’s gang operations by Starr testifying or “snitching.” Starr (version 2) on the other hand has to balance her school life at Williamson and all the comes with it. While at Willaimson Starr is friends with Hailey (Sabrina Carpenter) and Maya (Megan Lawless), who aren’t black. Starr also has a boyfriend played by KJ Apa. After the death of Khalil, Starr starts to see things from a different viewpoint while attending school considering the situation, and by Williamson being a predominantly white private school.
What makes “The Hate U Give” so good, is how it tells its story, the narrative, the characters, the relatability, and the messaging.  This film is more than just another black teen getting shot by a white a cop, and then a protest. The film takes viewers into the life of a witness and the struggles they go through not only dealing with the issue of losing a friend, but as well as dealing with their own internal struggle as well. What makes this movie stand out is for the fact that it deals with cultural appropriation. There are various examples in the film that show how this is so. It’s relatable not only for the fact that it deals with racial issues of today, but by also defining what it means to be black. There’s a scene where Hailey and Starr are having a conversation surrounding the topic of Khalil, and how Hailey basically says “You’re not like them, you’re different”.
“The hate you give little infants will f*#? Everyone.”
T-H-U-G Life. The meaning behind this quote came from the late rapper Tupac Shakur. When hearing the term THUG Life, the first thought that comes to mind, is initially about gang/thug related activity, right?
But this isn’t the case.
It means, “What society gives us as youth, it bites them in the ass when we wild out. Get it?” This quote is, the very meaning of THUG Life as seen in incidents such as Khalil’s. Even though it’s just a movie, “The Hate U Give” delivers a powerful example of what has and still does occur in today’s society. Anige Thomas explains it best stating, “When these unarmed black people lose their lives, the hate they’ve been given screws us all. We see it in the form of anger and we see it in the form of riots.” “The Hate U Give” is a piece of art that gives a dose of reality while still being able to have light hearted/comedic moments, which aren’t just randomly placed. It’s a film that represents today’s generation, that addresses the issues that need to be “put on blast”, that everyone needs to watch.