The source of media that I chose to watch was The Hate U Give, which flawlessly fit into the requirement of analyzing a source of media regarding race and crime for this week’s media blog. This film does an exemplary job of showcasing a predominately African American neighborhood of Garden Heights struggle against the oppression of police violence. This movie serves as the younger sibling to its older brother also titled The Hate U Give, which is a novel written by Angie Thomas released in 2017. This film went on to be the recipient of an abundance of awards, including the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture. Having read the book, I was eager to see if this film would contain the same captivating imagery that the book did, and to my surprise, it didn’t disappoint. The movie focuses on the life of Starr Carter, an outgoing 16-year-old African American girl who resides in the neighborhood of Garden Heights. Starr eventually finds herself as the key witness to a questionable shooting that involved her friend Khalil, by the hands of a white police officer conducting a traffic stop. The death of Khalil would evolve into a national news story, while Starr’s identity as the key witness would remain in the shadow along with her insecurities. As Starr would come forward as being the key witness during Khalil’s shooting, so would an array of unprecedented elements of a neighborhood that seems to be completely turned upside down from the announcement of a not guilty sentence of the officer who shot Khalil. As Starr watches as her neighborhood erupts into riots and protests, she must ultimately fight internal battles within herself while facing the external battles of her now distraught community of Garden Heights. Starr emerges as the ultimate winner in this unimaginable battle, as her mental toughness and matureness guide her in the right direction. Starr finds herself faced with the problematic aspect of policing in society towards African Americans, which motivates her to be the voice behind keeping the memory of Khalil alive. It’s important to understand the details regarding Khalil’s death. Khalil was pulled over for failing to signal a lane change. The officer who seemed to possess ill will towards Khalil, treated him as if he was wanted for a felony. Khalil emulated the officer’s attitude, disagreeing with the officer’s order for Khalil to exit the car. As the officer was checking Khalil’s ID, Khalil decided to reach for his hairbrush tucked within the driver’s side door. This was most likely a nervous reaction, hence the situation and atmosphere the hostile police officer created for such a minor traffic stop. The officer noticed Khalil reaching in his car door and decided that his best choice of force was to shoot and kill the unarmed Khalil. The non-guilty verdict of the white officer and the horrific fate of the unarmed African American Khalil is what The Hate U Give depicts. The movie depicts the events that follow such tragic events in society, and what those such as Starr do in order to heal these opened wounds.
This movie referenced many concepts we learned in class, and is heavily tied within Policing the Black Man. In the beginning of the semester, we learned about how race and class were considered social constructs. Within this topic, we learned of the division that social class seems to separate people by. Income, education, and occupational prestige were among the main three that stood out as different levels in society. This seems to be relevant with the story described within The Hate U Give. Within Garden heights, the King Lords were looked at as having more power than those contributing so society in terms of entering the workforce and having families. The police officers could also be described as having an occupational prestige, since they seemed to have an utmost amount of power within the community. The book, Policing the Black Man also contains similarities regarding the events in which The Hate U Give depicted. The story of Clarence Aaron is an exact representation of the mistreatment African Americans face in the hands of policing and the justice system (Mauer, 2018). Clarence Aaron was a college student with no criminal record, similar to Khalil. He introduced a classmate whose brother was a cocaine dealer to a cocaine seller he knew from high school. He was present for the sale of cocaine and received a payment from the dealer. “After police arrested the drug group, the others testified against Aaron, describing him as a major dealer, which led to him being sentenced to three terms of life imprisonment in federal prison.” (Mauer, 2018, p, 31.) Another example from Policing the Black Man which described the mistreatment of African Americans in the hands of police would be the story of Emilio Mayfield. Emilio Mayfield was only 16 years old when he fell victim to police brutality in the hands of nine police officers, for refusing to sit down while trying to walk to his school bus. “The encounter escalated as nine officers became involved, at least four of whom who piled on top of Emilio before slamming him into the ground.” (Henning 2018 p, 57.)
This movie served as an extreme refresher regarding the flaws of our society and specifically our policing system. When a creature of free will is given the power of legal discretion such as a police officer, these types of tragic events are inevitable. Stories such as Khalil’s continue to emerge in our news feeds as we turn on the news, reminding us of the problem society continues to face. I would recommend this movie to everyone, since it regards a fire that seems to have unlimited have unlimited fuel, police brutality within African American neighborhoods. Although the movie and book contain very similar moments and scenes, the book seems to offer more of a realistic side to society while the movie depicts the entirety of society as being against Starr and Garden Heights.
Mauer, M. (2018). The Endurance of Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System. In A. J. Davis, Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 31-56). Vintage Books.
Henning, K. (2018). Boys to Men: The Role of Policing in the socialization of Black Boys. In A. J. Davis, Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 57-94). Vintage Books.