In “The Hate U Give”, a movie that opened in wide release this past weekend, Starr Carter, a young black girl who walks the fine line between her poor black neighborhood and her wealthy prep school, witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend by a police officer. She gets pressure from all sides to be quiet about it: her school friends don’t know about her home life and folks in the ‘hood don’t want her talking to the police about anything. While the fatal shooting sets the stage for this film, the actual story is rooted in how Starr learns to find her voice and figures out how to stand up for what is right.
This is a very well written, beautifully acted film, which carefully and thoughtfully raises many important issues that so many of us are already (or should be) discussing with our sons and daughters. There is the horror of police brutality, for sure, but there is also the reality of a black community which is grappling with crime and poverty and a “no-snitching” edict, and the challenges young people face in code-switching between two worlds on a daily basis. The film, like the young adult book upon which it is based, pulls no punches, and definitely provides some squirm-in-your-seat, cover-your-eyes (at least for me) moments. And a lot of “pass me a tissue” moments as well. But it is a must-see.
Starring Amandla Stenberg (Rue in “The Hunger Games”), Regina Hall, Anthony Mackie and Common, “The Hate You Give” earned an estimated 10.5 million overall after its first weekend in wide release. It was a tough weekend for a smaller film like this to open: it went up against the “Halloween” reboot (which earned $77.5 in this opening weekend) and the third week of the popular “The Star is Born”. Despite its relatively weak weekend opening, “The Hate U Give” received an A+ CinemaScore from Friday’s audiences, which gives it a chance for a healthy run going forward.
Which is where we come in. As you may well know, the economics of the movie business are fairly basic: Movies that do well at the box office get a lot of attention and open doors for more movies like them. As we have seen with “Black Panther”, “Selma” and “Hidden Figures”, when we get behind a good movie, it can make a big difference. So let’s do it! Grab up the kiddies and their friends (ages 13 and over, please–this is too much for the littler ones) and take them to this movie. Or send them if they don’t want to be seen with you in the theater. (Actually, in that case, go with them and promise to sit far away, because you need to see this movie as well.) Then talk about it with them afterwards–there is so much to unpack. If your kids are younger than 13, then go see it with your friends. (The audience for the film this past weekend was 51% aged 25 or older.) Don’t put this off, because it needs a strong showing in real time to remain in the theaters. Go see it. You will be so glad that you did. And let us know what you think!
GCP partnered with Mothers of Black Boys United (MOBB United) to host a screening of this film at the Schomburg Library in Harlem a couple of weeks ago, and we had a panel discussion afterward, called “The Help We Give: Empowering Our Community to Stand Up and Speak Out for Social Justice”. Stay tuned for the next GCP post with all the details of this great discussion.