What insights does the novel generate concerning the national conversation and ongoing debate over police brutality, racial profiling and social justice? What perspectives does the novel present? How does the novel use these issues to enhance the story?
When it comes to policing, the term “bad apples” is frequently used. Bad apples, after all, fall from rotting trees, and the rotten trees in this case are police departments immersed in institutionalized prejudice. Many Americans’ opinions against racism and police violence appear to have shifted dramatically in the last few months. Many Americans are raising serious questions about the American law enforcement structure following multiple shootings of innocent Black males, notably following the prolonged suffocation of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 (Ananda, 2020). Are the law enforcement officers racist? This is among the most basic and crucial concerns. The solution to this seemingly simple question is quite complicated. The author of “The Hate U give” gives insight on how African Americans face racism, racial profiling, and injustice from police officers who are supposed to be protecting them. The author condemns the idea of racism and portrays a character (Starr) who is determined to fight against police discrimination until it ends.
The Hate U Give is a novel by Angie Thomas about a sixteen year-old Black American girl’s experiences growing up in a predominantly white community, as well as her subsequent life. Her eyewitness testimony in a police misconduct investigation concerning her friend garners public attention. Thomas’ tale explores further into impacts of institutional racism, how it impacts People Of color, particularly law enforcement’s racially motivated activities and the nature of the criminal justice system and law enforcement officials. The narrator of the story, Starr Carter, discusses proper etiquette while interacting with police officers, stating that the wisest choice would be to follow police orders and reduce possible conflict (Thomas, 2017). Starr believes Khalil is informed of “the talk” about proper etiquette when interacting with law enforcement officers, but Khalil is prepared to confront the officer in order to understand why they were pulled over (Ananda, 2020). Khalil’s actions reflect his desire to rebel against “the talk,” which serves to entrench racial injustice in the criminal justice system. Khalil’s attitude against police officers exemplifies the long-standing animosity that exists between African Americans and law enforcers. Khalil’s action may be seen as a consequence of the anti-police attitude in Black American communities.
Starr’s account of Khalil’s encounter with the white police officer intends to examine how police officers interacts with African Americans, especially the long-standing tensions involving law enforcement officers and Black Americans, particularly young males; a history of police misconduct; and a dubious search for narcotics and illicit weaponry. Khalil demands that the police explain why he was subjected to an unjustified search, which is a right that all people are entitled to. The action of confronting the police, on the other hand, is a violation of the “codes” of interaction between law enforcement officers and Black American youths. Owen claims that Khalil violates the “rules” of interaction in order to resist racial profiling and the subjugation of African American teenagers, who are deemed dangerous to society regardless of contex (Thomas, 2017)t. Teens have developed an anti-police mentality as a result of the gangs’ animosity and adversarial relationship with the police. Khalil’s decision to defy police instructions and subsequent death is also typical of police responses to African American defendants, who are presumed guilty unless proven innocent. Systemic racial inequities foster societal problems like poverty and violence, as well as the drug epidemic that is seen in Garden Heights (Ananda, 2020). The system is structured to oppress African American teenagers, and it is to blame for the bulk of the issues that the country is facing. Because the racist system operates in tandem with the motivating objectives for self-actualization, it is difficult for young people to meet their high-order requirements. Resisting police instructions might be viewed as a strategy to meet safety and identity requirements, as well as a means to obtain status and self-esteem, particularly in a country that has a systematic objective against young people like Khalil (Thomas, 2017). As a result, Khalil’s contempt for a police officer is only a means to an end, because all elements of the criminal justice process are similar, and so survival is the only option.
Racial disparity drives everything that affects the neighborhood, from unemployment to violence to police misconduct. Khalil character actions and attitude might be a result of both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation stemming from a desire for fair and equal treatment. However, the criminal justice system and society do not reward the sacrifices expected of young people like Khalil, and it would be counterproductive for him to continue to support discriminatory police actions. Despite the fact that Khalil was defenseless and the police search yielded no results, One-Fifteen murdered him on the premise that he was groping for a pistol (Thomas, 2017). However, because a hairbrush is not the same as a pistol, the story revolves about racism. Furthermore, Khalil’s behaviors validate what Starr sees as a result of generations of blatant racism and the criminal justice system’s storyline. “That is the problem,” Starr says. We allow individuals to say things, and they do so frequently that it becomes acceptable to them and usual to us. What good is it to have a voice if you’re going to stay silent when you shouldn’t be?” (Chapter 14 of Thomas). Khalil’s choice to defy police engagement guidelines is motivated by a desire to retaliate for current societal negative reinforcement of racial inequity, and hence his acts are an advocacy for equality under the law.
The Hate U Gave, a novel by Thomas, explores the effect of discrimination, racism and social injustice on African Americans’ lives, as well as the use of the race theme to describe the essential functioning of the United States criminal justice system. Starr’s retelling of the circumstances surrounding Khalil’s life in the narrative reveals the motivation behind Khalil’s actions and reaction when they were pulled over by a police officer for no reason. Considering the key themes of racism and racial inequality, Khalil’s decision to disrespect the police derives from the structural obstacles in the communities, as well as the systematic social injustice that African Americans face. Because of the long-standing competition between crime gangs and police officials, Khalil has an anti-police mindset and animosity towards the authorities. In addition, Khalil’s desires for self-actualization cannot be met in the face of police violence and racial discrimination. Importantly, Khalil’s experience with racial inequality and abuse motivates him to rebel against the ongoing race-based injustice, which is unresponsive to the racial system’s demands for youth’s efforts.
Ananda, G. D. S. (2020). Structural Racism in The Hate U Give (2017) by Angie Thomas (Doctoral dissertation, Universitas Negeri Padang).
Thomas, A. (2017). The hate u give. Gyldendal A/S.