The Hate U GIve Parent Guide
A powerful, superbly acted film with a topical message.
Parent Movie Review
Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) has mastered code switching. The African-American 16 year old lives in a gritty Los Angeles neighborhood and attends an elite school in a white community. “Garden Heights is one world”, Starr explains. “Williamson is another. I gotta keep them separate. So when I’m here I’m Starr Version 2.” Then tragedy strikes and Starr can no longer keep her worlds apart.
One night, as Starr leaves a neighborhood party with her childhood friend, Khalil (Algee Smith), they are pulled over by a young police officer. Not having had the benefit of “The Talk” Starr received from her father (Russell Hornsby) about how to behave around the police, Khalil argues with the officer. After he has been told to leave the car, Khalil reaches back in through the window. The officer fires and Starr watches in wide-eyed horror as Khalil dies in front of her.
Khalil’s death plunges Starr into a world of shock, grief, and fear. While the visibly traumatized teen struggles to deal with her friend’s death, she must also decide if she is going to speak out about the shooting. Starr is torn: she wants to be a voice for her friend, but she is afraid of the cost. If she speaks out and testifies before a grand jury, she believes her schoolmates will see her differently – not as Starr the person but as a charity case from the ghetto. More dangerously, if she testifies that Khalil was a low level drug dealer, the local gang leader will be in jeopardy. As Starr grapples with her choices, she also has to contend with threats and gunshots through the walls of her home.
Given the nature of this story, it is not surprising that the film has some content issues that might cause concern for parents. The movie contains a fair bit of violence, including one episode where a child is shot by a gang member and the pivotal scene where Khalil is killed. Beatings, threats, and an attempt to trap young people in a burning building raise the violence quotient. Profanity is also far too frequent, with almost five dozen profane or coarse expressions, including three sexual expletives. Obviously, this film is not suitable for children, but older teens with an interest in complex social and political issues will enjoy this thought-provoking production.
Despite the negative content issues, The Hate U Give comes with some strong positive messages. First, the movie shows a strong, loving family. It’s not perfect – the father, Maverick Carter has a history involving past gang membership and teenage fatherhood. But the parents have a loving relationship with each other and are determined to raise responsible, honest children who respect themselves and others. As Maverick says to his kids: “Don’t you ever forget that being black is an honor ‘cause you come from greatness.” The second powerful message is about integrity and the courage to be yourself. Starr learns from her father’s words, “Shine your light. I ain’t named you Starr by accident.”
The movie also benefits from an incandescent performance by lead actress, Amandla Stenberg. From portraying a sparkling high school sophomore at the beginning of the film, to a pale, shaking, traumatized witness, to a determined, brave young woman, Stenberg brings a fierce light to the role. She is a pleasure to watch and should be a strong contender come Oscar season.
The Hate U Give is a powerful movie, but it is not an easy one to watch. Its title comes from rapper Tupac and his tattoo “Thug Life” which he explained as follows: “Thug Life stood for ‘The Hate U Give Little Infants F*ks Everybody’. Meaning what society gives us as youth, it bites them in the a** when we wild out.” The film shows the terrible truth of his words, etched most sharply in one terrible, climactic scene. Fortunately, it also demonstrates that the love parents give their children has a power of its own.Directed by George Tillman Jr.. Starring K.J. Apa, Amandla Stenberg, and Regina Hall . Running time: 132 minutes. Theatrical release October 19, 2018. Updated October 19, 2018
Watch the trailer for The Hate U GIve
The Hate U GIve
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Hate U GIve rated PG-13? The Hate U GIve is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for mature thematic elements, some violent content, drug material and language
Violence: Gun shots are fired at a party attended by teens. In an attempt to intimidate a witness, gunshots are fired through the walls of her home. Gang members firebomb a building, knowing teenagers are inside. A young, unarmed man is shot by a police officer in front of his friend. This scene is replayed in the girl’s dreams, causing her to vomit. A main character recounts witnessing the shooting death of her friend when she was only 10 years old. The shooter is seen but not the death of the child. Two peaceful demonstrations turn violent as people clash with the police: in the second march, tear gas is used against the protesters. Police are shown beating people and some protesters are seen flipping cars. A child points a gun at a man.
Sexual Content: A married couple kiss on several occasions. Teenage couples kiss at different times. A main character recounts how her boyfriend showed her that he had a condom and suggested sexual activity, which she refused. (The boyfriend subsequently apologizes and improves his behavior.)
Profanity: Profanity is frequent, with 56 profanities heard in this film. A conservative count yields three sexual expletives, 20 scatological curses, three terms of deity, and 30 moderate curse words.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A main character attends a party where teens are drinking alcohol: she doesn’t consume any alcohol. A young man is known to be a drug dealer. Drugs and alcohol are presented negatively.
Page last updated October 19, 2018
The Hate U GIve Parents' Guide
Police shootings of unarmed black men have become distressingly routine. Philando Castile. Freddie Gray. Eric Garner. Why do you think African Americans are more likely to be killed by police than white men? What can be done to prevent these tragedies?
Fatal police shootings rarely result in charges or convictions for the officers. Do you think this is appropriate? Why or why not?
African Americans are perceived to be more dangerous, more likely to use drugs and more inclined to criminal activity than other Americans even though research demonstrates that they commit crime at the same rate as other racial groups. Why do you think these stereotypes persist?
A lawyer tells Starr “It is impossible to be unarmed when our blackness is the weapon they fear.” Do you think this is accurate? Does this explain why white people call the police when they see African Americans engaging in harmless behaviors such as waiting at Starbucks, having a barbecue in a park, selling water bottles, or disagreeing with a waitress? Why do some people fear those with dark skin?
Members of Starr’s community protest Khalil’s death. Police shootings have sparked protests across the US and have spawned the Black Lives Matter movement. Opponents have argued that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization while activists disagree. Do you think Black Lives Matter is a necessary voice against police violence and other forms of oppression against African American communities or do you think it is counterproductive?
Some people argue that it is police officers who are in danger and have launched Blue Lives Matter to speak out about the dangers police face. Do you think this movement is racist or do you think it represents legitimate concerns?
Racist attitudes permeate society. Do you struggle with racist assumptions? Can racism be unlearned? What can you do to improve relations between racial and ethnic groups in your school, church, and community?
Read books about The Hate U GIve
The film is based on Angie Thomas’ best selling novel, The Hate U Give. The novel contains swearing, racial slurs, and conversations about sex and violence. It is suitable for older teens.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee remains the classic novel about a racially motivated miscarriage of justice. Suitable for ages 12 and up.
Mildred Taylor’s series about the Logan family experiencing racism during the Depression is suitable for older elementary school students and teens. The series begins with the award winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.
Two graphic novels are a great way to get reluctant teen readers engaged with this topic. I Am Alfonso Jones tells the story of an innocent police shooting victim - from the afterlife. Created by Tony Medina and Brian Stevenson, the book contains some mild profanity. Veteran civil rights activist John Lewis has also produced a graphic novel about the struggle for racial equality. Titled March, the story contains some violence and is suitable for teens.
A gentler introduction to the topic for young children is I Have a Dream. Kadir Nelson has prepared a picture book (and CD) adaptation of Martin Luther King’s unforgettable speech that is suitable even for kindergarteners.
Related home video titles:
To Kill a Mockingbird tells the story of an African American man falsely accused of assault and the white lawyer appointed to defend him.