Some of you might be wondering, “Why, Sarah, are you reluctant to read The Hate U Give?” and the answer might be not be what you expected. This has been a hard post to work on, but one I felt I needed to write.
About My Family
6 years ago a sibling group of three ages 11 months, 5 and 8 moved in with my husband and me. We are unable to have children of our own and always wanted to adopt. When we got the doctors report that it was impossible to have kids, we immediately started the process of older child adoption. We knew there were thousands upon thousands of kids in the foster care waiting to be adopted and we knew that was the path for us.
One day we got a call that a brother and sister we had inquired about 5 months before had to immediately leave their current foster home and asked if we would be interested. Of course we said yes. They had a baby brother they didn’t know about at the time and would we take him as well. The older two moved in first, and wow, it was hard and some days I didn’t know how to get through it. Their lives at the age of 5 and 8 had already seen and dealt with tons of abuse and it was heartbreaking to hear about their pasts and see how it showed up in their behavior. The youngest one, at 11 months old, moved in 3 months later and our lives have never been the same. Going from zero to three kids sure has been life changing but I love my kids and I’d go through all the difficult stuff all over again if I had to to have them as my children. They are beautiful, smart, fun, and wonderful kids (even on their difficult days).
They are my heart.
When I first saw the announcement for THUG I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. All I knew was, I was unsettled. As someone who constantly searched for books with people of color as the main characters (especially black because of my kids) I couldn’t quite put my hand on why I had weird feelings toward it. Normally I’d be screaming from the roof tops about this book. But I didn’t.
Then one day, it finally hit me. I’m afraid of my children dying because of hatred.
Over the last six years that my children have lived with me, we’ve seen prejudice against them and it’s been heartbreaking.
• In second grade, my daughter’s teacher had to call me because a boy in her class said, “You know why they call it Black Friday? Because that’s when they take all the black people out on the streets and shoot them.” I couldn’t believe such a young child could say such an awful thing to my daughter.
• Last summer my daughter was getting ready to mow our front yard (the mower was 3 feet away from her) and she had to pick up some rocks because of recent road construction. A police officer pulled over and asked her what she was doing. She said, “I’m picking up rocks so I can mow.” Then he went on to tell her, “Okay but make sure you don’t throw them in anyone’s windows.” What the heck??? Why would he say that to her? It was obvious she was mowing and rocks ruin mowers and the only explanation was racism on this cops part. I highly doubt he would have told a white girl the same thing.
• My daughter was walking into our house from the car with my husband one day and a man yelled the N word at her from his car window.
• My oldest son (who is bi-racial) was at a Halloween party with some school friends and a stepdad of one of his friends, who is a girl, told my son to stay away from his daughter then proceeded to call him the N word.
• I have yet to know who it is, but one of my neighbors has called the cops twice on our house and honestly all I can think is it’s a racist neighbor. The first time my 4 year old was throwing a temper tantrum because he didn’t want to come inside and my husband had to carry him in. He was screaming and the police showed up. Another time was New Years Eve, my oldest (who is now 13) got mad at us and stormed out of the house to cool off. He wasn’t wearing any shoes. A cop showed up because someone reported a “little kid” walking around barefoot. My son is multiple inches taller than me. He’s not little. (And he was fine he just needed some space after a disagreement)
• And there have been multiple other comments to my daughter from others kids over the years.
All these times have frustrated and upset me and the reason I’ve been reluctant to read this book is because I knew it would gut me. Honestly the thought of my baby, my 6 year old, growing up and someone seeing him on the street and walking the other way, the thought of him being shot and killed for no reason by a cop, the thought of people hating him because of his skin color guts me to the core. Even now writing this, I am in tears.
As a parent, the idea of anyone hurting my children because of their skin color is absolutely heart breaking and I know books like The Hate U Give and Dear Martin will shake me to the very core.
Coming to this realization helped me to realize that fear for my children’s safety was behind all my uncomfortable feelings toward this book. And I know that despite how hard it will be to read THUG and Dear Martin, I will read them. I owe it to my kids and all the millions of families who deal with this fear every day. I cry just thinking about the books so I know that actually reading them will be even harder. But I will do it.
Understanding my fear has made me feel at peace with these books and now I look forward to reading them, even though I know it’ll be hard. I think THUG will be a great learning experience for me and a book I can share with my kids one day.
Will you be reading them?
Congratulations Angie Thomas on releasing The Hate U Give TODAY and the movie deal in works! Go out and buy a copy!
About the Books
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty. Soon to be a major motion picture from Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions.
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.
Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.
Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Way up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In that media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.