‘The Hate U Give’ brings insight on the impact of police brutality on youth of color

Isabelle Rayburn

Police brutality is something that affects people of color on a daily basis, especially black youth. The movie “The Hate U Give” brought light to this situation by focusing on a young woman of color who experiences this brutality first hand. 

Angie Thomas wrote “The Hate U Give” in 2017.  The novel won several awards including the Coretta Scott King book award as well as the Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Young Adult Fiction in 2017 after spending almost a year on the New York Times Bestseller list. 


“The Hate U Give” comes from the meaning of “Thug Life.” The late rapper Tupac made this saying to show how the system is against people of color. Thomas, who was inspired after watching a Youtube video of Tupac discussing what ‘Thug Life’ actually meant, decided that her book was meant to reflect the way in which unarmed black men and women are treated. 

Police brutality has been an issue for a while in America, and this movie spoke for Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and all the other people of color that have been killed by police while being unarmed.

The main character is Starr, played by Amandla Stenberg. She grew up with her dad teaching her how to deal with the police when being black, such as keeping your hands on the dashboard at all times and not making any sudden movements. When Starr grew up, her parents put her in a predominately white high school so she could have a better chance of getting into college. This leads her to constantly fighting with her identity around the students that don’t look like her because she doesn’t want anyone to see her as “ghetto.”

Starr “code switches” from school and home just so the students at her school cannot call her a ghetto black girl. Code-switching is when someone alternates between languages, or in more basic terms, between colloquialisms. This allows Starr to connect with both sides of her life. 

When Starr witnesses her friend get killed by a police officer because he mistook a hairbrush for a weapon, her whole life changed. The police officer wasn’t arrested, was sent away on a paid leave and then went free with no consequences.

This incident brought out her activism and the passion Starr had to fight for her community. She was taught her whole life to stand up for what she believed in and never hold back. Starr starts by challenging racism at her school. She realizes that way that the other students talk around her and treat her because she is black.

Throughout the movie, Starr speaks to the media. These scenes showed how the media portrays the victim as a bad person in order to justify their death and ask questions that incriminate the victim even after death. If incidents like this happened to people that were not people of color, then the outcome of the media would be different. 

This movie is all too similar to what people of color go through on a daily basis. As a person of color myself, I have experienced a large amount of the incidents that have happened in this movie. I have seen people die, and I have witnessed my friends get treated differently because they are people of color.

People don’t realize what really happens in African American communities because they only see what they want to see or what the media allows them to see. Young people living in these communities continue to try and fight and get pushed down every time because of injustice. No matter how much we protest or how loud we speak, there is still no progress with police brutality in the black community.

Something needs to change and the impact of this movie is the start.


Isabelle Rayburn can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @IsabelleRayburn.