We move into the third and shortest section of our book club this week, it’s just 5 short chapters with two responses questions, but I think this is where our book starts to take an enlightening turn. I am so excited to see how we learn from this section on perception – or as Beck’s put it “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” – which is apt with Hamilton coming out on Disney+ this week (EEEEK!!) I look forward to reading and learning along side of you all – especially in the midst of Fourth of July. I am re-learning what it means to be American and hoping for a better America in front of us than in our rear view mirror – it’s the most patriotic act I can think of.
Theme: Perception or Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story
Reading: Chapters 15-20
1. Media reports on Khalil portray him as a drug dealer and gangbanger. The interview with One-Fifteen’s father portrays One-Fifteen as a victim. In this section, Starr meets with the DA and gives her own television interview in an effort to stand up for Khalil.
On p. 288, Starr tells Mrs. Carey (the TV interviewer), “I don’t understand how everyone can make it seem like it’s okay he got killed if he was a drug dealer and a gangbaner. … It seems like they [the media] always talk about what he may have said, what he may have done, what he may not have done. I didn’t know a dead person could be charged in his own murder, you know?”
What role does news media play in shaping stories? Discuss your thoughts regarding Starr’s observation of folks seeing Khalil’s murder being “okay” if he was a drug dealer or gangbanger. Have you seen similar media portrayals of Black folks who are killed by police? What do you think about this? How can you make an effort to ensure you’re seeing all the angles of a news story? What are some steps you can take to broaden and diversify your media consumption?
2. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns of the dangers of a single story (check out her amazing TED Talk on the subject linked below). She talks of the single story she read as a child; books about blonde-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned girls. She tells of the single story she held in her head that her family’s domestic workers were “poor” and could therefore be nothing else. She describes her college roommate’s single story of Africa, a homogeneous group of people characterized by poverty, war, and disease. She explains that power determines whose stories are told and how.
How does this concept of a single story connect to The Hate U Give? How does it connect to the literary world as a whole? Pop culture? Black lives and racial justice? History?
Reflect on what stories are told in our society, who gets to tell them, and what happens to these stories (and our perception of them) as a result. What can you do to avoid the single story in your life?
Here are ways outside of the book that you can explore this topic with podcasts, videos, articles and social media!
Ahmaud Arbery Could Have Been Me by Ibram X. Kendi