Historical context


Current issues

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is clearly intended as a commentary on a range of real-world social issues in US society, especially issues that African Americans experience. It therefore makes sense to put it into perspective by studying the way it refers to real-world cases.

Police shootings and discrimination in the justice system

First of all, the novel presents a critical perspective on the real-world issue of police shootings which disproportionately kill African Americans. The entire plot centered around such a shooting, but the very last chapter also makes the connection to real-life cases clear by listing names of real-world victims alongside the story’s fictional characters:

It would be easy to quit if it was just me, Khalil, that night, and that cop. It’s about way more than that though. It’s about Seven. Sekani. Kenya. DeVante. It’s also about Oscar. Aiyana. Trayvon. Rekia. Michael. Eric. Tamir. John. Ezell. Sandra. Freddie. Alton. Philando. It’s even about that little boy in 1955 who nobody recognized at first - Emmett. (Chapter 26, 90%)

This section of the novel makes it obvious that Angie Thomas wants her story to be interpreted as a critical commentary on the racist killings or attacks that show up again and again in the media.

However, The Hate U Give is not just a comment on these attacks themselves, but also a critical comment on the US justice system and the typical aftermath of these attacks. Even though there have been many recent cases with unarmed African Americans who were killed by armed police officers, it is very rare that the responsible officers are actually sentenced for murder. Instead, they usually get either a lesser sentence (e.g. involuntary manslaughter) or no sentence at all. Angie lets the fictional case of Khalil and One-Fifteen play out in this typical way too, which is an attempt to show the injustice of the system to the readers, as she sees it.

Early on in the story, Thomas lets Starr comment on the way these cases usually turn out: “...people like us in situations li...

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