Violence and oppression
One of the main themes of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is violence and oppression, especially the violence and oppression that the police express towards African Americans in US society.
The entire book revolves around an incident when a white police officer shoots an unarmed black teenager during a traffic stop (Chapter 2, 67%). We also see examples of police harassment later in the story, when a patrol stops Maverick for no reason and pins him to the ground (Chapter 11, 57%). This is probably an act of revenge because Starr decided to testify against One-Fifteen.
The general fear of the police among African Americans is also shown in several other scenes where Starr and members of her family encounter members of the police force and have to show self-control to deal with the situations. One example is when Starr is provoked by their questions and comments at the first interrogation (Chapter 6, 88%).
However, we also see a few more positive sides to the police as the story unfolds. This especially comes across in the characterization of Uncle Carlos. He represents a more diverse and understanding side of the police, and he actually wants to protect Starr and her family from those who threaten them. However, it is also telling that Uncle Carlos is suspended from the police force during the story, suggesting that his alternative approach might perhaps not fit into the police as it is organized today.
Ultimately, the message the story presents regarding the US police is mostly negative, though some nuance is added through the character of Uncle Carlos, and through Starr’s reflections about why she is yelling ‘fuck the police!’ along with the other protesters:
I yell out [fuck the police] too. Part of me is like, ‘What about Uncle Carlos the cop?’ But this isn’t about him or his coworkers who do their jobs right. This is about One-Fifteen, those detectives with their bullshit questions, and those cops who made Daddy lie on the ground. Fuck them. (Chapter 23, 40%)
This quotation is also a comment on the real life use of the ‘fuck the police!’ slogan at various protests. Starr justifies this use by noting that it is not necessarily directed at every single member of the force, but rather a means of protesting against the systemic racism that exists in the US police force as an institution.
Race and identity
Starr, the main character of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomes, lives between two worlds: the poor, black neighborhood of Garden Heights and the wealthy, white environment of her school, Williamson. From the beginning of the novel, we learn that Starr doesn’t feel she fits in among her peers in Garden Heights:
I shouldn’t have come to thi...