Why I Refused To Watch 'The Hate U Give'
About a year after I moved out to Los Angeles from Boston, I got a text from my cousin. She asked me for my mailing address because she found a book she thought I might like. My cousin, (who is also a TRA but from Taiwan) and I share a mutual love of film and reading. When we both lived in Boston, we frequently swapped book ideas and went to see films together. Naturally when she told me she was going to send me a book, I was all for it. New book to read, I’m there.
A couple weeks later, her package arrives. I open it and it’s a brand new copy of the book by Angie Thomas, “The Hate U Give”. I had heard nothing but praise about the book from pretty much every black person and activist I follow and look up to. I should have been excited to read the shit out of it. However, when I opened it up, instead of the normal feeling of excitement, black power and joy I usually get from supporting my fellow black women, I felt immediately exhausted. I don’t know if you remember, but this book came out just last year, in February. This was also the time that we had an influx of police shooting, and brutality videos hitting us what felt like every hour, on the hour. Every time I opened up anything that was connected to the internet, there was a new video or story about a black person being murdered by police. We were also right off the heels of movements like Ferguson, and Flint, not too long afterwards, the rally in Charlottesville riot happened, and so many other instances of black people being brutally abused by white people and the law. It was and still is an overwhelming non-stop wave of violence against my people. Despite how much I really do want to read the book and support this young black woman, I mentally cannot take anymore stories about the abuse of my people. Especially fictional stories.
This is exactly why I did not watch the film adaptation either. In fact, I made a deliberate pact with myself that I wasn’t going to watch any movie about the violence against black people. Especially ones that are fictional. I have always been very outspoken about my disgust with Hollywood’s black representation. Furthermore the fact that the only big ‘black films’ that seem to get greenlit are ones where we are victims and suffer at the hands of white people or in which white people get to be saviors. That is why we made such a big deal out of Black Panther. An almost 100% black cast and crew, majority dark skin cast and we have our own narrative that has nothing to do with white people? It’s literally unheard of for a movie of that scale. Jordan Peele had to fight tooth and nail to get a shit budget so he could make Get Out and they still pushed back against that movie. Had he made another slave movie or a movie about a white person killing black folks, every movie studio would have signed on to fund it in 30 seconds.
So just like I skipped 12 Years A Slave, Blindspotting, and whatever other black film hollywood has tried to give us, I refused to watch The Hate U Give too. They could be great films, I don’t know or really care. Shout out to the people involved, get your money and your IMDB credits, good luck. I wish them no ill will at all. I however, shall not be there. I simply cannot sit through another movie about the killing of my people when we already are dealing with that in real life. Why would I want to go watch my people face racism and death on screen for entertainment when I can literally just walk outside and have it happen to me 15 times a day?
Just last week as I was walking down Sunset blvd to my car after work, some white man driving past yelled “fucking nigger” out the window at me, minding my own business. He sped past cackling, and I caught a glimpse of the multiple Trump/MAGA bumper stickers on his car. Yes, even in fake progressive Los Angeles, people are still calling us niggers. My point is, we as black people—me personally, am living this reality, I don’t want to pay $18 for a movie ticket to watch a fictional story about it on screen too. I just don’t and I don’t have to. This is why I will always support shows like Atlanta and Blackish, shows that allow black people to simply just be regular damn people living their everyday lives. I’m tired of every piece of black media needing to be a political movement or statement in order to be validated. Our daily lives are not political movements, we’re just regular people out here trying to work and pay bills on time like everyone else. Where are our movies and shows that allow us to be human beings? Those are the pieces of media I will go out to support.
One day I will get around to reading “The Hate U Give” but I have a feeling it’s going to be awhile. Until we get out of this hell hole we’re living in which black people can’t even walk into their own apartments or have a BBQ in the park without being harrassed by racists, I won’t be consuming these pieces of literature or film. For my own mental wellbeing, I simply can’t.
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