There are books that you read to unwind and relax. Like your typical rom-coms, feel good books or a genre like horror, mystery or suspense. You enjoy those and the story becomes a part of your world until you reach the end of it. You get a certain closure and satisfaction in knowing the end but also a sense of loss after finishing a good book.
But there are some books which are more than stories. They entertain and educate and gives you a peak through a character’s life and gives you a perspective to experience those things. Some books which really made THAT kind of an impact on me, to name a few are; The Help , alot of Jodi Piccoult’s books such as My sister’s keeps, the Nineteen Minutes, Handle with care, The Americanah & books of Khalid Hosseini. The latest book to the list is “The Hate you give” by Angie Thomas.
It basically sums up the #BLM movement. The story takes you to the world of Starr, who is the lead female protagonist. She is not your average girl in the black hood. For one, her parents are doing what they can to send her and siblings to private school, where they are the only few African Americans; adding a bit of pepper to a whole lot of whiteness. Starr had a tormenting childhood as she saw her best friend murdered in a drive by shooting accident in her neighbourhood. While the nightmares and pain eases with time, but losing a friend in a senseless crime with little to negligible investigation pains her. Her neighbour hood is a typical ghetto, dominated by violence, gunshots , drugs and gang wars.
The story takes a turn when her friend was killed mercilessly by a cop in front of her when their car is stopped over a broken tail light. Though Khalid, the victim, didn’t resist but he is still killed over suspicion. Killed over a hair brush lying on the passenger seat that the cop confused for a gun . Killed because the cop assumed the worst of him. No different than what happened to George Floyd.
The book sheds light how the black minority is designed to fail by the system. Sub par schooling which does not give the same playing field as the more affluent schools, hence less opportunities and unemployment, easy access to drugs and eventual jail. A vicious cycle.
Starr was leading a double life. One for her school and white friends and another for her black neighbourhood where she had to constantly prove her loyalty. At school, she was expected to behave JUST right or be stereotyped a violent,angry, black African American. She spoke in a different way , listened to Taylor Swift and avoided conflicts. It was almost as if the weight of the entire community rested on her shoulders.
Things changed after Khalid is killed. Starr’s conscious compels to stand for her friend and countless other Africans who are victims to injustice, prejudice and racism. Though the verdict is not in her favour despite the evidence , but it is a start of a new beginning. In doing so she embraces herself and becomes the voice for her community.
This book is a must read in the current scenario . The book was published in 2017 and 3 years later #BLM has become a global rage. The death of George Floyd has changed the world and was the last straw for institutional racism. We are now standing at a point where people are finally taking responsibility and hopefully will make a change in the system and behaviour. It is a long road but at least it’s a start .
Coming from Pakistan , Racism is very much applicable in our part of the world. Mocking and ridiculing someone over dark complexion is extremely common. The society idolises white complexion and multinational companies mint money by instilling lifetime worth of insecurities by promoting all kinds of whitening cremes.
But you know what ? This movement has made them stop and forced them to reposition their brands. It’s a victory no less! The society and media meanwhile is trying to be mindful of their choice of words . And finally, these are the baby steps in the right direction!