Two founding members of the Black Lives Matter activist network have denounced the film adaptation of “The Hate U Give,” a 2017 novel geared toward young adults that explores concepts of race and police brutality. The movie debuted in more than 2,300 theaters over the weekend earning $7.5 million in ticket sales, capturing sixth place at the box office.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, “’The Hate U Give’ tells the story of 16-year-old Starr Carter – played by actress Amandla Stenberg – who lives in a black neighborhood but goes to a white private school. The balance between her two worlds tips when she witnesses her childhood friend die after being shot by a white police officer.”
The Washington Post described the film as “a powerful look at Black Lives Matter.” It was also labeled “a Black Lives Matter movie” by left-leaning Slate Magazine. But Black Lives Matter’s top organizers dispute such interpretations.
“As Black Lives Matter organizers, we state emphatically that this is not a ‘Black Lives Matter film;’ it is the antithesis,” the activists proclaimed.
Their review said the movie contains “a bevy of problematic messages” that advance “White superiority” along with a “good-cop narrative” that “admonishes Black audiences.”
The activists noted several specific racial observations, including:
Angie Thomas’ New York Times bestseller on which the film is based swapped out the book cover that originally pictured a chocolate-colored Afroed girl, for the light-skinned young actress, Amandla Stenberg…
Stenberg’s braids hang long as she holds a placard that reads “The Hate U Give,” a reference to Tupac’s THUG LIFE acronym (The Hate U Give Little Infants F*cks Everyone)… THUG LIFE, tattooed across his mid-section, was a scathing critique of the White-supremacist-capitalist system that treats Black and poor children with contempt, depriving them of resources, and ultimately causing the whole of society to suffer the consequences.
We might also wonder about the choice to have Audrey Wells, a White screenwriter whose credits include ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ and ‘The Truth About Cats and Dogs,’ adapt an urban Black novel for the screen…
The film asks viewers not to challenge a policing system…but to focus exclusively on “Black-on-Black crime,” even when unarmed Black boys are killed by White cops…
Cullors and Abdullah went on to state that there is “cause for healthy suspicion” that police interests might have provided financial support “for the film or filmmaker,” arguing that black people should focus more on dismantling law enforcement agencies rather than cooperating with cops.
“’The Hate U Give’ is propaganda that tells us that the answer to our woes is not addressing the intentional design of policing systems that are rooted in slave-catching,” they wrote, “but to trust a system to bring an inherently pathological Black community in line.”
The movie is presented by 20th Century FOX, which has partnered with AMC Theaters to host free screenings to underserved youth across the country as a “tool for driving empowerment, empathy and dialogue,” according to a press release. The screenings are part of an effort to “amplify the film’s call for youth to find their voice and change the world.”
Follow Jeffrey Cawood on Twitter @Near_Chaos.