The Hate U Give opens on 9-year-old Starr Carter and her brother getting "the talk" from their dad on what to do—and not do—in confrontations with police. Hands flat on the dashboard. Be polite. No sudden movements. "You drop something, you leave that shit where it's at." The scene is poignant and powerful, just like the rest of the movie.
This feature film based on a young adult novel explores an array of themes: what it's like for teenage Starr to straddle the two worlds of her overwhelmingly white prep school and her poor African-American neighborhood; how a lack of economic opportunity interacts with systemic racism to keep many black Americans in near-constant danger; the anguish and anger she experiences when a police officer guns down a friend before her eyes and isn't arrested for it. But The Hate U Give also acknowledges the complexity of the situation. If there is a moral, it's about the importance of speaking out against injustice, whether it comes from outside or inside the community.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "The Hate U Give".