In response to the ever-apparent race conundrum within cities, there have been a variety of films that have worked to address the issue. The new film, “The Hate U Give,” offers a nuanced perspective in how predominantly Black communities function. Many people may view it simply as a “gangster” film, but more on that later. In reality, the film portrays the nuances and difficulties to Black existence, especially in the midst of socioeconomic segregation. There are no easy answers, and no direct solutions provided, but problems are solved as they occur, giving some element of agency to constituents who are largely ignored.
In the trailer, the narrator talks about the abysmal state of the local high school. There are multiple cinematic shots of deteriorating houses next to homes that are indisputably middle class. The ongoing opinion about the community is that it has nothing to offer, and so people are forced to either leave and be viewed as minorities, or to maintain substandard infrastructure. What is even more telling is that despite the relatively safe and uneventful existence that most of the residents enjoy, they have internalized the outside perception of their community. When people actually spent time in the neighborhood, most of the kids grew up and raised families and existed without incident.
Frustratingly, most of the residents were expected to find their own resources while the neighborhood was seen as undesirable for not having resources. The narrator is able to attend an outside school only because her family maintained a business. Residents are forced to make lifestyle choices that illicit little remorse when tragedy strikes, even though there were no opportunities for them to do anything other than remain on the margins of society. Across town, the narrator’s neighborhood was a place characterized by the media, even though the narrator was one of the classmates of the other students.
While police brutality is the focus of the film, there was an underlying perception of danger wherever there were Black people. When nothing is happening, police are constantly appearing and people shake their heads while knowing there is little which can be done to alleviate the harassment. The movie actually opens when the narrator’s father is explaining The Talk to his children about what to do when the police stop and interrogate them. Throughout the film, there is an ambiguous aura of whether the people or the perception of them presents more danger to newcomers.
The movie clearly demonstrates one theme: Black people are just people, and neighborhoods filled with Black people are simply neighborhoods. Acting out caricatures of people is not the same as living their lives because of the danger of being seen as “less than” or “dangerous,” and everyone has perceptions of everyone else. While living, however, it is more important to actually participate in the reality that exists rather than allowing the media and outsiders to determine the fate of communities. Even in those places where “no one would want to live,” people live there.