“T-H-U-G-L-I-F-E, The hate you gave little infants f____ everybody. Meaning, what you feed us as seeds, grows and then blows up on your face. That’s thug life.”-Tupac Shakur.
It’s a powerful statement coming from one of the world’s greatest rappers, but is he wrong? How can a child end up violently impacting society based on the hate they receive growing up? It’s not like children walk around receiving hatred in their cereal bowls, but it’s what they see every day. It doesn’t matter if you favor the nature or nurture theory, it is a fact that children are affected by their environments. What children see in their daily lives shape their views of the world. It’s not until they are taught differently, or see other perspectives, that they begin to broaden their worldviews.
Author Angie Thomas was heavily influenced by rapper Tupac Shakur when writing her debut novel, “The Hate U Give.”
Thomas explained in an interview, “When I saw him explain what it means, it hit me that that’s not just in my book, but that’s what we see in society. When these unarmed black people lose their lives, the hate they’ve been given screws us all.”
The title coming from Shakur’s acronym for the word “thug,” the book follows an African-American teenager, Starr Carter, as she struggles to assimilate in her suburban, predominantly white high school and maintain her “blackness” in her predominantly black neighborhood.
Carter continues to live her “double-life” until her best friend Khalil is killed by a police officer. It is only after his brutal death that she is forced to either speak out against injustice and combine her two worlds or remain silent.
The film adaptation employs the talents of Amandla Stenberg as the main character and is supported by the likes of actors Common, Issa Rae, Anthony Mackie, Sabrina Carpenter, Regina Hall and more.
Those are two tough choices she has to decide between. People constantly barrage the thought of keeping quiet and not speaking out against injustice, but what if the speaker is not believed? Their credibility is questioned, tainting their name. The problem with remaining silent is one will never know if justice or retribution could have been achieved because they never spoke.
I watched the film three weeks after it’s release and struggled to find a seat in the packed theater. I sat down ready to be entertained but stood up at the film’s conclusion emotionally drained. I wasn’t only tired out by the film, but by the events it was inspired by.
The police brutality inflicted upon Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Sandra Bland had exhausted me.
I left the theater knowing it was a movie and tried to remind myself Khalil was only a character, but I couldn’t because I know that, for many people, Khalil is a family member, co-worker, student or friend. Khalil is an integral piece of his or her life. And, for some of them, Khalil is gone, not because he was deemed to have ill character traits, but because the person who took his life was afraid. The cops were afraid Khalil would be a threat but didn’t get close enough to him to determine whether he was truly dangerous or not.
We are all human and we are all prone to fear, but when we let fear dictate over reason, we lose our humanity.
Freshman film major