I recently had the opportunity to meet Angie Thomas, who authored The Hate U Give at a book signing. In this YA novel and upcoming movie, a 16-year- old Black girl who has witnessed the two fatal shootings of her childhood friends tries to make sense of the world. Starr Carter witnessed the first shooting of a friend when she was ten years old. It was a violent crime in a poverty stricken neighborhood, a crime that goes unsolved. After that shooting, Starr’s parents sends her to a predominately white suburban school far from home.
By sixteen, Starr feels no connection to the neighborhood kids she started school with. That changes when Starr is the sole witness to the police shooting death of another childhood friend, Khalil, who was unarmed. As Khalil’s shooting gains national attention, Starr starts to become aware of injustices. As Starr starts noticing casual racism in her community, she suspects that it may cost her one of her friendships. The shooting changes Starr, who slowly grows into the responsibility of using her best weapon, her voice.As a Black girl around Starr’s age, the story was moving, and influential for me. I felt the author was trying to tell me that it’s worth speaking up about things that are relevant to me, even if there is a price to pay. The moment Starr demands that police brutality needs to end was a very empowering.
It is important for teenagers like Starr to use platforms for social change so their voices can be heard. Readers will feel inspired, as I was.
Written by Stephanie Younger, a 16-year-old student activist, organizer and writer who advocates for Womanism, diversity in S.T.E.A.M, the abolition of youth prisons and gun violence prevention