The Hate You Give
The Hate You Give is a film directed by George Tillman Jr. that addresses contemporary issues with enough twists and turns that make it more than a polemic against police brutality or race and class stratification in America. The film is in limited distribution at select theaters so you have to look for it and see it before it is pulled from circulation.
The film takes a panoramic and intense look at urban life, race, and class through the eyes of a light complexioned Black high school student who lives in the hood but attends a bougie white suburban prep school so she can get a “better education”. She lives in a two parent home, her mother is a nurse and her father owns and operates a grocery store in the community where they live. Her dad is a reformed gang banger who spent three years in prison who is the alpha male for his family which includes his wife Lisa played by Regina Hall, their daughter Starr, her older half brother Seven and younger brother. There is great love and affection in the nuclear family especially between Maverick (Mav) Carter played by Russell Hornsby and Hall; but they disagree over whether to remain in the old neighborhood or move out. Lisa the mother wants to move out of the neighborhood.
Amanda Stenberg who plays Starr Carter the budding scholar-athlete has a white boyfriend but she is not sexually active. Living in the hood Starr knows the deal and clearly sees the stark distinctions between white privilege and Black deprivation. She knows first hand the violence of the inner city.
Starr’s uncle, her mother’s brother Carlos, is a policeman who helped the family out when her father was in prison and became a surrogate father for Starr. Starr has a close relationship with her uncle that becomes stressed when Starr experiences first hand the tension between the police and community, the nuances of race, class and the prevailing notions about “snitching” in the hood.
Without giving anything else away, violence touches Starr in an intimate way which forces her to grapple with her double sided existence. Her life is much more complicated than telling her father about her white boyfriend as she is subsequently forced to deal with deep loss and its emotional and socio-political aftermath.
Starr is forced to make serious decisions based upon her experiences and its concomitant trauma while coming to grips with whether or not she should do the right thing. We watch as this unfolds in scenarios and situations all too familiar in modern America.
The film’s characters are not portrayed as superficial caricatures of young people and adults. This is a complicated film about a myriad of complex issues which under Tillman’s direction, the actors are able to pull off admirably. Deep conflicts and tensions exist throughout the film based upon the various back stories and current events but the characters handle the juxtaposition of the past and their present realities and predicaments well and believably.
The film provides many messages but the late Tupac Shakur’s THUG LIFE acronym, meaning the hate you give little infants f’s everyone provides the emotional foundation of the film. All sides of the issues are depicted but the only issue and virtue the film trumpets are courage and reliance.
Go see The Hate You Give before it is pulled from theaters.