Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


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, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. 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 destroy her community. It could also endanger her life. 

Wow, what a timely read!!! At this moment I can’t even adequately put into words how I feel about this book. I experienced anger, sadness, understanding, empathy, and so many other things. There’s no way it should have taken me a week to finish this book, but sometimes life gets in the way. 

In the spirit of Stand Your Ground by Victoria Christopher Murray and Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, The Hate U Give gives us a perspective into racism from a point of view we rarely see in the news. This time we hear from the eyewitness of a police shooting. The short premise is that Starr saw one of her childhood friends get murdered by a police officer and we see the media attempt to dehumanize/criminalize the friend so Starr wrestles with the decision of testifying and having her memories of the night turned around. My heart truly went out to her and I can totally see why this book is already being turned into a major motion picture. It is THAT good and it is a story worth telling. 

I could say so much more about this book, but I’ll simply end this with a passage:

“It’s about Oscar. 

Aiyana. 

Trayvon. 

Rekia. 

Michael. 

Eric. 

Tamir. 

John. 

Ezell. 

Sandra. 

Freddie. 

Alton. 

Philando. 

It’s even about that little boy in 1955 who nobody recognized at first – Emmett. 

The messed up part? There are so many more.”


Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond by Marc Lamont Hill Review

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Unarmed citizens shot by police. Drinking water turned to poison. Mass incarcerations. We’ve heard the individual stories. Now a leading public intellectual and acclaimed journalist offers a powerful, paradigm-shifting analysis of America’s current state of emergency, finding in these events a larger and more troubling truth about race, class, and what it means to be “Nobody.”

Protests in Ferguson, Missouri and across the United States following the death of Michael Brown revealed something far deeper than a passionate display of age-old racial frustrations. They unveiled a public chasm that has been growing for years, as America has consistently and intentionally denied significant segments of its population access to full freedom and prosperity.

In Nobody, scholar and journalist Marc Lamont Hill presents a powerful and thought-provoking analysis of race and class by examining a growing crisis in America: the existence of a group of citizens who are made vulnerable, exploitable and disposable through the machinery of unregulated capitalism, public policy, and social practice. These are the people considered “Nobody” in contemporary America. Through on-the-ground reporting and careful research, Hill shows how this Nobody class has emerged over time and how forces in America have worked to preserve and exploit it in ways that are both humiliating and harmful.

To make his case, Hill carefully reconsiders the details of tragic events like the deaths of Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and Freddie Gray, and the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. He delves deeply into a host of alarming trends including mass incarceration, overly aggressive policing, broken court systems, shrinking job markets, and the privatization of public resources, showing time and time again the ways the current system is designed to worsen the plight of the vulnerable.

Timely and eloquent, Nobody is a keen observation of the challenges and contradictions of American democracy, a must-read for anyone wanting to better understand the race and class issues that continue to leave their mark on our country today.

 

“An impassioned analysis of headline-making cases….Timely, controversial, and bound to stir already heated discussion.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A thought-provoking and important analysis of oppression, recommended for those seeking clarity on current events.” —Library Journal

“With Nobody, Hill marshals the full weight of multiple scholarly traditions to expose complex, ancient, and intersecting injustices of American racism. This is the book that respects Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, and all the other lost black women, men, girls, and boys by taking them seriously. This is the book we needed to understand how we got here and to understand what it means to be here. This is the definitive text. It will remain so for generations.” (Melissa Harris-Perry, Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University and Editor-at-Large, Elle.com)

“Marc Lamont Hill is the most courageous and progressive voice in ‘Main Stream Media,’ whose new book, Nobody, is a subtle and persuasive historical and contemporary analysis of our state of emergency in America. He gives new meaning to the now popular idea of “intersectionality” with intellectual gusto and political urgency!” (Cornel West, author and professor of philosophy and Christian practice at Union Theological Seminary and professor emeritus at Princeton University)

“An essential primer on the relationship between anti-Black racism and state-sanctioned violence, Nobody chronicles historical and social developments around race, class, gender and the role of the State in America which have served to develop, maintain, and expand an expendable underclass. In Hill’s book we see how repression breeds resistance, the very same dynamic that has led to an upsurge in the Black Freedom Movement that seeks justice for all of us.” (Alicia Garza, cocreator of the Black Lives Matter Network)

“Marc Lamont Hill proves once again why he is one of the leading voices on race in America. With its fresh insight and careful on-the-ground reporting, Nobody is a powerful call to action that gives a voice to our most vulnerable communities. As with anything Hill writes, this book is essential reading.” (Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress)

“Marc Lamont Hill has written the book we desperately needed. No mere chronicle of recent anti-Black violence, Nobody digs deeper, revealing how the killing fields of urban America were tilled by seven decades of Jim Crow and four decades of neoliberalism, turning the very people who brought the prospect of genuine justice, democracy, and citizenship to America into a disposable nation of ‘nobodies.’ But as Hill reminds us, precarity is not death, the market is not God, and an equitable, just future is in ‘nobody’s’ hands.” (Robin D. G. Kelley is the Gary B. Nash Professor of American History at UCLA and author of Freedom Dreams; Thelonious Monk; and Africa Speaks, America Answers)

“Nobody provides a comprehensive look at the effects, where police are shooting unarmed minority citizens, and their drinking water is literally poisoned . . . . It will constantly energize you and never bore you.” (The Intercept)

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I have read quite a few books over the past few years dealing with police brutality, systemic racism, and general inequalities and some of them have been fluff pieces and others were groundbreaking in the material they presented so I was not sure what I was getting into when I started reading Nobody. The topics range from the killing of unarmed black men, to the water crisis in Flint, to the most bone chilling concept of feeling like a “nobody” in a place that is supposed to be your home. This book not only digs deep into the longstanding societal and procedural issues behind recent police shootings but it also perfectly captures the emotions that many African-Americans felt each time we heard of someone dying.

But there were many who said, “There is no way that a police officer would ever shoot somebody in the back six, seven or eight times.” But like Thomas, when we were able to see the video, and we were able to see the gun shots, and when we saw him fall to the ground, and when we saw the police officer come and handcuff him on the ground, without even trying to resuscitate him, without even seeing if he was really alive, without calling an ambulance, without calling for help, and to see him die face down in the ground as if he were gunned down like game, I believe we all were like Thomas, and said, “I believe.”

Marc has been one of my most favorite journalists to watch on television, but I now have a new found respect for him after reading this book. If you are looking for a book that includes thought-provoking analysis into how we got to this point in our country then this is the book for you. Nobody is painful, exhausting, and yet quite brilliant. If you are a fan of Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and/or The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander then you should definitely add Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond by Marc Lamont Hill to your list to read!!

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img_0012.jpgBuy Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond here!