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December 2017: Social Issues > The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas - 2 Stars so far.

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message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments I am not done with this book right now, so I will add another review in the future but I feel the need to express myself.

I started this book with high hopes due to the subject matter. This is a topic that needs to be discussed and viewed from an intellectual and statistical viewpoint to stop needless violence and killing of innocent people, to make police officers accountable when they make mistakes that cost people their lives. To educate people of their rights and police of their duty so things like this do not happen at the frequency we see today.

This book does not do any of this. When asked what Starr would say to the officer if he was sitting across from her she responds with "I'd ask him if he wished he shot me too." and calls that response as a "blow" to the officer. This book is full of these "jabs"

I think this response perpetuates a line drawn in the sand and resolutions never evolving. The perpetuates the us vs them on both sides.

I have personal experience with friend being killed unlawfully by a police officer. http://www.wesleybeaver.memory-of.com/ This is the link to my friend and his story. Race was not invovled in this situation was but justice was never served. This police officer made a horrible decision and murdered Wesley, lied, planted evidence and he should be in prison. I do not know the officer personally, but I have heard killing Wesley has ruined his life. I believe 100% this officer made a bad decision. He did not follow training, for whatever reason shot and killed Wesley, but I don't think he hunted him down just to murder him. The officer made a mistake, freaked and tried to cover his mistake. Still he should be punished with prison, NO EXCUSES, but I can't believe his intent from the beginning was murder. We all make mistakes at our jobs and have to be held accountable. Though police should be held responsible for their mistakes, they make mistake and bad judgement calls. Theirs just take lives. Yes, there is a undeniable problem with the high number bad judgement calls when white officers are faced with African American individuals and this should be addressed.

The Hate U Give is important and poignant but could be so much stronger to bring each side closer but I don't believe that is the intent of this book. I will finish The Hate U Give but I cringe at the thought. I can only think of what this book could be.

I am thick skinned as well. I know many loved this book and am willing to receive frank comments.

Administrators, if you feel this post is to controversial, I understand if you remove it.

I just needed a little vent because this is not the book I anticipated reading. I look forward more books addressing this issue.


message 2: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8521 comments I think you know I feel similarly to you in general. In a lot of ways. Haven't read this book yet, (next month), but sometimes, often, I feel a complicated issue is tacked with passion and good values, but fails to take into account the deeper complexity of the issue. Sometimes thins are about race, but also not. The lens we look at has to encompass more than one angle.

This book however, is meant to be a YA experience. So I try to let those novels be just that. I do understand why some folks don't care for YA for that reason. They want something more complex. I am one of those folks, I think. But a little YA here and there, if you can take it for what it is, there may be some precious jewels. Just a thought.


message 3: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Amy, I do see what you are saying. I do want something more complex because it's a complex issue. I also wouldn't want my YA to read this book. This book just is missing the mark with me. I am glad it was published as I look forward to this subject being covered in fiction more in the future.


message 4: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Okay. I finished the book. There are some great things in this book but the problems outweigh the positives. 2 stars


message 5: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8521 comments Almost more than for myself, I am so looking forward to forcing my almost 15 year old to read and write reviews on both Beartown and the Hate U Give. He's through Chapter 11 of Beartown, and needs to read the Hate U Give for school this Spring. We are hopefully doing the book group with our high schoolers present, and it will be interesting to hear it from their perspectives too.


message 6: by Nicole D. (new)

Nicole D. | 1482 comments I'd like to clarify - police officers aren't making "mistakes" they are making decisions. (" to make police officers accountable when they make mistakes that cost people their lives.")

This mostly isn't a review, mostly it's a story about your friend which is fine, but it shouldn't be in the middle of a review for a book you hadn't yet finished, and then finished but didn't modify the review on? I had issues with the book as well, but the positives far outweigh the negatives, and the topic of race is vitally important. I feel like you read a story about a police shooting not a story about race.

Sorry, I'm pretty passionate about this topic Was everybody supposed to hold hands and sing songs at the end of this story? THIS is a portrayal of race in America today. And just wishing it were different doesn't make it so. We have to take an active part in making it different.


message 7: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Nicole D. wrote: "I'd like to clarify - police officers aren't making "mistakes" they are making decisions. (" to make police officers accountable when they make mistakes that cost people their lives.")

This mostly..."


Nicole, I agree with very much about we have to take an active part in making it different. 100% After finishing the book my review did not change. Are there cops that are racists and use their position to harm other races? Sure and that is not a fixable problem unless all the racist offers admit to being racist and want to harm other ethnicities. The major problem is officers that subconsciously racist which leads to mistakes and bad judgement calls. Which is fixable.

Maybe view the problem as different or we view the solution as different. I don't feel the The Hate U Give as a step in the right direction to a solution. It had the potential but I feel it failed.

We do agree the rampant abuse of authority by police officers, especially against racial minorities is a major problem and serious issue. We agree it can and should be fixed.


message 8: by Anita (last edited Dec 24, 2017 08:16AM) (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6432 comments I think our personal experiences very much shape our responses to books. They are inextricable - - especially when it comes to fiction.

We are all adults and should be able to keep the conversation civil. It's not necessary to all agree. Personally, I didn't think it was a great book either, but for different reasons. However, as the wife of another type of professional that often gets sued and where mistakes and errors can costs lives, I can definitely relate to your perspective on some levels. And in my husband's profession, people aren't operating from a place of fear. But sometimes there is negligence and sometimes there are just bad outcomes and sometimes there's just poor decision making in his profession. Humans are imperfect, and nothing is going to change that. And let me tell you how many constructs are in place to mitigate error . . .it's incredible. Yet errors still occur, poor decisions still take place.

Regardless, for me, there was strength in the voice of the book. It's being told through the voice of a young girl, not an adult. The perspective is not adult. I do think her views could be representative of views in her community, and that brings an authenticity to the story. So for me, that authentic voice made me rate the book a bit higher than you did.


message 9: by Nicole D. (new)

Nicole D. | 1482 comments I guess what I"m saying is, I don't think it's incumbent on the black community to find a solution. I remember a quote from a book I read that went something like "Racism is a white person's problem. The started it, they need to fix it."


message 10: by Nicole D. (new)

Nicole D. | 1482 comments found the quote ... racsim is a white mans problem. He started it, and he needs to fix it. Welcome to Braggsville

The other thing I will say is this book has achieved its aim of getting people talking about race.

Anita, I think it's difficult to compare police and surgeons - I don't think your husband would ever "make a mistake" on someone just because they weren't white.


message 11: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Nicole D. wrote: "I guess what I"m saying is, I don't think it's incumbent on the black community to find a solution. I remember a quote from a book I read that went something like "Racism is a white person's proble..."

I understand that and I agree with it mostly. I listened a podcast that was debate about about free speech on the internet and should the internet be policed. An argument was made that no, it should not be policed because open conversation can help change peoples mind. The African American debater, who was also very funny, made the argument of, that is no my job to teach you and be your moral compass. That was profound to me. First time I thought of it that way. So you are right, I should not expect this book to be a solution. I guess I did expect so much more out of this book than what I was given. Maybe 2 stars is to low as Anita pointed out, but she is right personal experience and expectations effect how we feel. In 5 years time, I may feel much different about this issue and this book than I do now because I definitely feel much different than 5 years before. I apologize for my brashness in my first post and offending you. Maybe I did not express myself as clearly as I would have liked.

Here is the link to the podcast I find More Perfect and Radiolab wonderful. They are NPR radio programs http://www.thegreenespace.org/story/r...


message 12: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments Yes, people make mistakes but there is a difference between negligence/mistakes and structural racism which results in a disproportionate number of black men dying at the hands of police officers, in the disproportionate number of African Americans being pulled over for traffic violations, disproportionate consequences to black vs. white crimes (just look at differences in consequences for drug violations based on race), biased ways in which African American victims are portrayed in the media (thugs, violent past etc vs. mentally ill).

This book isn't about a police officer making a mistake, it isn't even about a shooting. It's about race and race relations and it's a book that is attempting to portray how things are experienced by African American youth.

I didn't particularly love the book (I thought the analysis was simplistic but appropriate for a YA book) but it bothers me to hear statements such as "it would be so much stronger to bring each side closer." Forgive me, but why should the point be to make white people/officers/those in power closer to their victims? This is precisely the sort of conversations that the author of book I just read (Why I'm no longer talking to white people about race) is trying to make in her book. I think we should be making people uncomfortable, making them reevaluate structural racism, make them think about what it would be like to be a young person who lives in fear of those intended to protect them. It's through discomfort that we can find motivation to change systems.

I tend to agree with Anita in that one of the strengths of the book is to provide a perspective that we don't typically get in literature. We see so few African American voices in literature in general and as protagonists of YA in specific. The issues in this book represent the kinds of fears, issues and experiences that African American youth think about on a daily basis.

I'm sorry to hear about your friend (it's tragic when any person is killed) but anecdotes are not the same thing as systemic discrimination and racism. To highlight the issue as being one of mistakes/negligence is (in my mind) is misguided and glosses over history, police/crime data, and a long history of racial discrimination.


message 13: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments I would add that I think it's important for us to discuss these kinds of books and issues. I'll take a look at the interview you posted.


message 14: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Jen wrote: "Yes, people make mistakes but there is a difference between negligence/mistakes and structural racism which results in a disproportionate number of black men dying at the hands of police officers, ..."

Jen, I think the systematic racism that statistics approve is appalling. I think we view that racism as different. I believe most (not all) racism is unconscious racism. Police in general do not wake in the morning eager to kill or repress minorities. Either their upbringing, personal experience, insecurities, or whatever reason had bred unconscious racism.

I wished I could find the podcast where a police sergeant out west made his officers go through special training after Michael Brown was shot and killed. The training taught the officers the even if they didn't think they were racist, they subconsciously were and to go into every situation telling yourself your judgement is skewed because of that. The training taught them their guns were not to be used as scare tactics. Its only to brandished when ready to use. To slow down, allow the adrenaline to subside. Guess what, arrests went down, crime went down, public and police relationships improved. If I remember correctly, this was one of the highest crime rates in the area. To me, this shows their racism was not a conscious KKK member, but someone uneducated and making poor decisions based off learned biases.

The system has to be changed and the people will follow because in general they are not bad people, just uneducated.


message 15: by Anita (last edited Dec 24, 2017 09:36AM) (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6432 comments I only raise the subject of physicians, not because malpractice is an issue of race, but rather because there tends to be an assumption of negligence and incompetence when an outcome is bad. But it is important for people to remember that the people who see doctors are sick in the first place.

I see some parallels in the police situation. The outcomes can be horrifically terrible, but most people they deal with are criminals and may be perceived as a threat. If you haven't dealt with people repeatedly who are genuine threats, it is hard to assess how you might react to a perceived threat.

This observation doesn't negate the fact that blacks are 2.5-3x more likely to die in a police related incident. That's a fact. But the statistical data collection could be a lot better when it comes to police issues. There are more underlying pieces of data that could form a better picture and help devise better prescriptions. Data I'd like to see related to these deaths is race of the officer, age of the officer, number of years on the force, training protocol, whether the deceased had weapon, etc. Until the data collection is better and the problem better defined, I fear that the issue will never be resolved. The problem may be racism. It could be something else. Or a combination. Or it could be that some police officers are just incompetent, and the hiring and review process are inadequate.

My husband works in an inner city hospital that serves a very poor, mostly minority population. There are assaults or threats nearly daily on the staff, and there's actually nearly nothing that can be done. You can't throw ill people out in the street. Unfortunately, operating in environments where physical safety is threatened creates a mentality that I feel is hard for me personally to relate to or understand.

And in the case of these police situations, both parties (the police and the citizen) are often operating in that type of environment.

I felt like the book does portray the situation in the inner city well. It's definitely not like living in the suburbs . . .and the issues are so complex and are compounded by mental illness and drug abuse, neither of which came into play in the book in any major way.

In terms of the book, I appreciate it more in the rear view mirror because of the reason's that Jen states . . .I really think it is powerful to have a first person book written from a young, African-American, inner city, female perspective. It's just that as a much older adult, I no longer relate easily to the YA perspective . . .sadly.

Such a tough and emotional topic.


message 16: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Jen, I found the other podcast I was looking for. Radiolab does a two part series called Shots Fired. In regard to the police chief, I had the location wrong, but his part is at the end of Part 1. I recommend both of these podcasts. Links below.

http://www.radiolab.org/story/shots-f...

http://www.radiolab.org/story/shots-f...


message 17: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Anita, these may interest you as well because they bring up the difficulty of statistics and why. It also interviews a man trying to gather all these statistics.


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