Police Brutality Within the Hate You Give

 

 Police brutality presently encompasses many different areas of expression. One popular book that brings attention to the topic is the bookThe Hate You Give(2017) by Angie Thomas. The captivating 444-page young adult fictional book describes the story of a young black man, named Khalil who is driving home from a party with one of his childhood best friends named Starr. Eventually Khalil and Starr are pulled over by Police Officer One-Fifteen, for having a broken tail light. Which ultimately escalates into Officer One-Fifteen killing Khalil because he mistakes Khalil’s hairbrush for a gun. After this event occurs Starr later faces the challenge of determining whether she should tell the public what happened to Khalil and herself the night he died. She would risk the safety of her life and family, or she could keep the true events of the night enclosed; indirectly and undeservingly protecting the reputation of officer One-Fifteen while Khalil’s is tarnished. [NK1] The Hate You Giveis a book that gives black youth in urban cities a novel that they could easily relate to. Thomas utilizes comparisons, proper nouns, symbols, and allusions in order to establish the unequal power dynamic between police officers and the black community. Through the use of dialogue between officer One-Fifteen the pre-disclaimed stigmas of both parties are expressed and brought into conversation. Starr’s ending decision to speak out about the incident creates a groundbreaking narrative and voice for the black community, and against police brutality in America.

Within the scene of Starr and Khalil getting pulled over by the cop, there is a lot of unnecessary and detrimental underlying tension that causes the act to go down the way it does. At first readers encounter the scene without any true context of officer One-Fifteen, Starr, or Khalil; but later in the book tensions of the scene are explained due to false accusations and stereotypical beliefs. When Khalil gets pulled over officer One-Fifteen tells him to get out of his car and states “Okay, smart mouth, let’s see what we find on you today” (Thomas 23). This statement shows that officer One-Fifteen is already assuming Khalil has done something wrong. The officers remark gives readers insight that he does not have good intentions and is just looking for a reason to label Khalil as a criminal. Khalil did not do anything threatening to One-Fifteen throughout the scene but because he is perceived as a bad guy, officer One-Fifteen fears him and does not feel the need to protect him. The officer ultimately disrespects Starr and Khalil because he doesn’t treat them as people he needs to protect. Throughout the entire scene Starr remained silent in order to prevent herself from offending the officer, because she knew he did not see her nor Khalil as a human but instead as a threat.

In one scene of the book, Starr debates whether she should tell Khalil’s side of the story about what happened the night of his death or not. She later on decides in order to gain justice for Khalil, she has to tell his side of the story just as Officer One-Fifteen’s father did for his son. Mid-way through the novel Starr begins to respond to officer One-Fifteen’s father’s remarks about the situation. Officer One-Fifteen’s father stated in tears, “Brian’s a good boy,”…“He only wanted to get home to his family, and people are making him out to be a monster.” (Thomas 247).  Starr responds by stating “That’s all Khalil and I wanted, and you’re making us out to be monsters. I can’t breathe, like I’m drowning in the tears I refuse to shed. I won’t give One-Fifteen or his father the satisfaction of crying.” (Thomas 247). Throughout this conversation the use of comparisons and proper nouns modify the message that can be taken away, from both Starr and One-Fifteen’s father’s interpretation of what happened the night Khalil was killed. The mistreatment of Starr and Khalil makes it clear to Starr, that the police officer does not see her or him as a priority in society. Starr was able to acknowledge that the police force views Khalil and her as “monsters”, rather than people. By labeling both children as “monsters”, it is interpreted that they should not be treated as humans but instead as creatures to be feared. This can be understood because monsters are typically associated with aggression, whether it be in stories or movies. Within this scene Starr refers to the officer as “Officer One-Fifteen”, rather than Brian as his father does. By not using his real name Starr dehumanizes the cop just as he dehumanized Khalil, by mentally labeling him as a “monster” in order to justify murdering him. Through comparing Khalil and Starr to “monsters”, readers see where the police officer was coming from in his thought process; which causes the officer to, in his opinion, rightfully kill Khalil the night of the traffic stop. The comparison is used to point out how many officers portray black people in society; hostile, aggressive, inferior, defective, threatening, and worthless. All of these descriptions feed into the idea of African Americans not being human, which leads to their encounters of police brutality being discredited.

Khalil and Starr know they are viewed as “monsters” by the officer, so they are now associated as being a problem or enemy in society which causes them to fear him. Because Khalil and Starr are seen as problems, the officer believes that in order to solve the issue he must eliminate them. By labeling Starr and Khalil as monsters and killing Khalil, Starr is given the right to show no respect to the officer or his father. Her refusal to name the officer and his father is a form of dehumanization which she uses as a coping mechanism. By taking away his name, she takes away his identity as a person and instead labels him as just another number. Names tie people to who they are; they are how people are identified. By taking away One-Fifteen’s name, Starr takes away any power he thinks he holds over her in society.

Within the scene of Starr hearing officer One-Fifteen’s father’s opinion about the entire situation of Khalil’s death, Starr reveals her reaction to his remarks. Starr’s internal dialogue expresses her opinion by utilizing her body to symbolize the releasement of fear.  Starr states “Tonight, they shot me too, more than once, and killed a part of me. Unfortunately for them. It’s the part that felt any hesitation about speaking out.” (Thomas 247). Within this quotes Starr releases her power and capability of revealing who the police officer really is as a person. She connects the idea of her body being shot and killed to Khalil’s death. The fatality of a portion of her body represents, her fear about telling the world what happened the night of Khalil’s death being freed; no matter what the consequences are. Her body acts as a shell that encapsulates her power to release her fear after it has figuratively been shot. She no longer worries about the public’s opinion on the situation, nor the Police Force’s retaliation towards her.

People of color continue to be oppressed and in fear of a system expected to protect and serve the lives of everyone. Meaning all people should feel comfortable with the police force because they know if they are in trouble, they have someone to run to for help. But the truth is African Americans don’t have anyone to turn to when they are in need of assistance, according to the NBC article  “Police Killings Hit People Of Color Hardest, Study Finds” (2018) by Maggie Fox “African-Americans died at the hands of police at a rate of 7.2 per million, while whites are killed at a rate of 2.9 per million” (Fox 3). As a result, many people have begun to wonder why the police force has gotten away with the killing of black people so frequently.

The truth is this issue has not just begun, the article “Taking Freedom: Yes, Black America Fears the Police. Here’s Why.” (2018) by Nikole Hannah-Jones focuses on the idea that the police have been taking advantage of their power in society for years, in order to oppress people of color. The article brings attention to peaceful protests thrown by African Americans that were disrupted by the violent actions of the police force; whether that be by use of police dogs, water hoses, or batons. Jones states “Historically, in both the South and the North, the police have defended and enforced racism and segregation—attacking civil rights protesters and disrupting strikes of black workers seeking to integrate workplaces and neighborhoods” (Hannah-Jones). Hannah-Jones explains that in the past the police were instructed to encourage racist acts, and act violently towards people of color who attempted to improve race relations. This document brings up the history of the police force being created as a resource to oppress black people, with the power and support of the government behind them. Hannah-Jones clarifies the historical oppression of people of color, which helps readers to understand that what happened to the character Khalil is a recurring event; mistreatment maliciously without regret.

 The power Starr gains from building the courage to tell the story of Khalil can be represented in present day by the Black Live Matter Movement. This movement focuses specifically on but not exclusively, the violent acts inflicted on African Americans by systems of power. The Black Lives Matter website states they believe,

“Black Lives Matter began as a call to action in response to state-sanctioned violence and            anti-Black racism. Our intention from the very beginning was to connect Black people from all over the world who have a shared desire for justice to act together in their             communities. The impetus for that commitment was, and still is, the rampant and deliberate violence inflicted on us by the state”. (1)

This group was created by three black women named Alicia Garza, Opal Tameti, and Patrisse Cullors. The organization is made up of individuals who are willing to stand up to systems of power for their rights, and the rights of people who do not necessarily have that courage. The Black Lives Matter Movement understands the hurt that black people face, whether it be with the global or social issues individuals are tied to after police brutality encounters. The Black Lives Matter Movement stands up for people without a voice, who have passed due to police brutality just as Starr is standing up for Khalil. But the difference is Starr holds a larger responsibility in her case; Starr is only one person, who doesn’t have the support of many people other than her father in sticking up for Khalil throughout the story.

Although the Black Lives Matter Movement has made headway in society, one of the popular critiques of it would be that it mainly focuses on the lives of black men. Within the  Huffpost article “#SayHerName: Why We Should Declare That Black Women And Girls Matter, Too” (2017) by Lily Workneh the discussion of women who have encountered police brutality is brought up. In her article Workneh states,

“When we wear the hoodie, we know that we’re embodying Trayvon. When we hold our hands up, we know we’re doing what Mike Brown did in the moments before he was      killed. When we say, ‘I can’t breathe,’ we’re embodying Eric Garner’s final words,”         Gilmer said. “We haven’t been able to do the same thing for black women and girls. We           haven’t carried their stories in the same way.”

She brings up the point that women and girls are often not discussed in topics of police brutality. When reading Thomas’ book I couldn’t help but wonder why Khalil had to be the one to lose his life due to police brutality; a male figure. Ultimately leaving a female named Starr, the burden of expressing the horrific events of Khalil’s death. The book could have been more impactful if the roles were reversed; leaving Starr dead and Khalil living. By switching the characters roles the storyline could have been one that is not typically discussed by the public. Which would cause readers to rethink police brutality, by placing females encounters with law enforcement on a higher platform.

 Thomas did not only place the main character to be killed in the book as a male, but also referenced a popular black man in society whose life was lost to a police brutality incident . This shows how African American males are often the main subject in cases of police brutality. The quote stated above points out a popular phrase “I can’t breathe” which was stated by an African American male named Eric Garner, while he was being choked to death at the hands of a police officer. Thomas uses this quote in her writing when she describes Starr’s internal dialogue due to her reaction about the death of her friend Khalil, Starr stated “I can’t breathe, like I’m drowning in the tears I refuse to shed” (Thomas. 247). By having Starr say “I can’t breathe” the words that Eric Garner repeated (eleven times while being restrained by police officers) Thomas alludes to his tragic death. This allusion further dramatizes Starr’s experience because she is relating her pain from Khalil’s death to a real-life example of police brutality further emphasizing the pain and trauma, she’s experienced. By referring to Garner, she also alludes to the aspect of racial injustice and its embeddedness in the justice system. Khalil, like garner, was unjustly slain and to Starr the experience of losing Khalil under such conditions makes her just as much of a victim of the system as Garner.

Starr’s body being metaphorically shot represents the fear all African Americans live in on a daily basis. It symbolizes a fear that most people of color hold within society because they know their lives are not held at the same value of others, due to their skin color. Instead of being seen as people in society they are seen as an object taking space rather then something to be treasured. It shines light on a system built years ago to hold back and destroy a population that presently legally gets away with the slaughter of humans. Thomas shows the complexities and aftermath that such events hold on the families and communities, who experience such a trauma by utilizing comparisons, proper nouns, symbols and allusions. Starr’s experiences show readers that often people who go through police brutality cases such as Starr, are faced with the tough decision of standing up alone to the police force which has governmental support. By expressing the mistreatment Starr and Khalil faced, Starr discovers she is strong enough to face the legal system and government. Because Khalil’s story deserved to be told to her community in order to earn some justice for Khalil, since his voice was taken away from him in the most permanent way possible.

 

Works Cited

Fox, Maggie. “Police Killings Hit People of Color Hardest, Study Finds”. NBC News. 7 May       2018, https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/police-killings-hit-people-color-           hardest-study-finds-n872086.  Accessed 1 May 2019.

Hannah-Jones, Nikole. “Taking Freedom: Yes, Black America Fears the Police. Here’s Why.”     Pacific Standard, Pacific Standard, 10 Apr. 2018, psmag.com/social-justice/why-black-america-fears-the-police. Accessed 6 March 2018.

“Herstory”. Black Lives Matter Movement.https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/herstory/.Accessed 2 May 2019.

Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give. Balzer + Bray, 2017.

Workneh, Lily. “#SayHerName: Why We Should Declare That Black Women And Girls      Matter,             Too”. Huffpost. 21 May 2015, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/black-women-        matter_n_7363064. Accessed 1 May 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police Brutality

 

Cover of Angie Thomas’s The Hate You Give

Police brutality presently encompasses many different areas of expression, one popular book that brings attention to the topic is the book The Hate You Give (2017) by Angie Thomas. The captivating 444 page young adult fictional book describes the story of a young black man named Khalil, who is driving home from a party with one of his best friends named Starr. Eventually, Khalil and Starr are pulled over by Police Officer 115, for having an out tail light, which escalates into Khalil being killed because Officer 115 mistakes Khalil’s hairbrush for a gun. Lately, the mistreatment of African Americans by the police force has gained a lot of attention due to social media. As a result many people have begun to wonder why the police force has gotten away with the killing of black people so frequently. The truth is, it has not just begun: it is an issue that has been happening for years. Thomas wrote this book in order to give black youth in urban cities a novel that they could easily relate to.

In one scene of the book, Starr debates whether she should tell Khalil’s side of the story about what happened the night of his death or not. She later on decides, in order to  gain justice for Khalil she has to tell his side of the story just as Officer 115’s father did for his son.

“Brian’s a good boy,” he says, in tears. “He only wanted to get home to his family,   and people are making him out to be a monster.”

That’s all Khalil and I wanted, and you’re making us out to be monsters.

I can’t breathe, like I’m drowning in the tears I refuse to shed. I won’t give One-Fifteen or his father the satisfaction of crying. (Thomas 247)

Throughout this scene of the book, the use of comparisons and proper nouns modifies the message that can be taken away from both Starr and 115’s father’s interpretation of what happened the night Khalil was killed. The mistreatment of Starr and Khalil makes it clear to Starr that the police officer does not see her or him as a priority in society. Starr was able to acknowledge that the police force views Khalil and her as monsters, rather than people. By labeling both children as monsters, it is interpreted that they should not be treated as humans but instead as creatures to be feared. This can be interpreted because monsters are typically associated with aggression, whether it be in stories or movies. Monsters are typically characterized as creatures rather than people. Starr refers to the officer as 115 rather then Brian as his father does. By not using his real name, Starr dehumanizes the cop just as he dehumanized Khalil by mentally labeling him as a monster in order to justly murder him. Through comparing Khalil and Starr to monsters within the book, readers see where the police officer was coming from in his thought process which had caused him to, in his opinion, rightfully kill Khalil. This comparison was used to point out how many officers portray black people in society; hostile, aggressive, inferior, defective, threatening, and worthless. All of these descriptions feed into the idea of African Americans not being human, which leads to their encounters with the police being discredited.

Khalil and Starr know they are viewed as monsters by the officer, which causes them to fear him, knowing 115 associates them as being a problem in society. Because Khalil and Starr are seen as problems, the officer believes that in order to solve the problem he must eliminate them. Khalil is viewed as the enemy, and in the officer’s eyes, deserved to die, because it was not the officer’s duty to protect him. Throughout the entire scene of Khalil being pulled over, he did not do anything threatening to 115; being perceived as a monster caused Khalil’s death because monsters are something to be feared rather than protected. The officer ultimately discredits and disrespects Starr and Khalil because he doesn’t treat them as humans. This gives Starr the right to show no respect to the officer or his father by refusing to name them. This quote reveals that throughout the scene where Khalil and Starr are pulled over, Starr remained silent in order to prevent herself from offending the officer because she knew the officer did not see her as a human but instead as a threat. Khalil and Starr knew they were seen as threats in the officer’s eyes so it would be wise to hide their opinions about the situation in the heat of the moment. Starr and Khalil were in fear of how 115 would react, and they wanted to prevent conflict. Starr dehumanizes the officer as a coping mechanism. By taking away his name, she takes away his identity as a person and instead labels him as just another number. Names tie people to who they are; they are how people are identified. By taking away 115’s name, Starr takes away any power he thinks he holds over her in society.

 

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Works Cited:

Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give. Balzer + Bray, 2017.

 

The Impacts of Text Fonts Within Vietnamerica

 

The graphic novel Vietnamerica (2010) by GB Tran depicts tones, sounds, and emotions not only through the text itself, but also through different color schemes of pages in certain scenarios, along with different fonts throughout the text which convey different sensory emotions. One of the stronger techniques would be Tran’s use of fonts, that the trained eye is not used to reading.

For example in one chapter of the text Tran had used  fonts that looked as if they were erased and squished which made it difficult to comprehend. This technique helped readers to feel the emotions Tran was trying to evoke for relationships between characters within the scenes that were meant to be confusing, chaotic, and disconnected. An example of this technique within the text would be when a character named Tri attempts to eavesdrop on another persons conversation, the font of this scene had looked like parts of the words were erased. By doing this Tran makes it hard for the reader to understand what Tri is hearing, but at the same time the text was clear enough for the reader to piece together ultimately what Tri hears. This technique establishes a sense of confusion throughout the scene because of the breaks in the text, causing the reader to become puzzled by what they are reading; just as how Tri has trouble understanding what the person in the distance was saying.

Tran’s use of different fonts throughout the text is a fun and creative way of keeping readers engaged. The different fonts cause readers to figure out what words they are reading by making the the text itself a bit challenging to read, while also establishing emotions, speeds of conversations, distances between characters and helping readers to interpret how the characters sensory emotions such as hearing are reacting within that scene of the text.

Works Cited

Tran, Gia Bao. Vietnamerica. New York, Villard Books, 2010.

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It’s Your Fault

Image result for muslim assimilationMuslims in Britain can find it difficult to be accepted for who they really are. They may feel forced to lose apart of themselves and their culture due to the expectations of others in society. The novel Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (2017), an award winning writer and novelist, does a good job of depicting how some Muslims are often treated, and the hardships they have to face because of practicing their religion. The book first introduces readers to a woman named Isma who is traveling through customs but gets taken into custody by the police; she is seen as a threat due to her hijab and religious beliefs. Eventually she makes it through customs and acclimates herself in  Massachusetts where she casually has coffee with a man named Eamonn, who is the son of a politician named Karamat Lone. Eamonn expresses to Isma that he left London so that he could escape from the drama associated with his fathers beliefs on Muslim practices.

Later on in the novel there is a scene where Eamonn watches a video of his dad presenting his views to a group of Muslim students, on how they needed to live their lives in order to thrive in London he tells the students “Don’t set yourself apart in the way you dress, the way you think, the outdated codes of behavior you cling to, the ideologies to which you attach your loyalties. Because if you do, you will be treated differently–not because of racism though that does still exist, but because you insist on your difference from everyone else in the multiethnic, multitudinous United Kingdom of ours” (Shamsie 90). This quote communicates to readers that Karamat does count his Muslim culture as a part of his identity. But it also displays that he feels he along with the other students, that he refers to as “you”, need to hide parts of their religious practices in order to prevent receiving backlash from society. Karamat’s use of the word “you” makes readers understand that this topic is very important to him because he doesn’t just generalize the students into one group. He instead tries to communicate with the students on a level that directly speaks to each person even though he is speaking to a large group. Throughout the entire speech Karamat referred to the students using the pronoun “you” by doing so he individually engages each student in his conversations, and blames them for being the reason why they as Muslims are treated so poorly. Karamat communicated to each student that unless they assimilated they were going to suffer in society and the only person to blame would be themselves. This shows Karamat’s support of Muslims as a whole to lose their contrasting religious habits that set them apart from others in order to prosper; which suggests that a persons Muslim identity has to be outshone by their London identity. 

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Works Cited

Shamsie, Kamila. Home Fire. Riverhead Books, 2017. 

 

 

How Would You Feel?

Often readers find themselves disconnected from certain works of literature they read in their lifetime, because of this it is important for writers to use many different literary devices to maintain readers intersts by making them feel connected to the piece. Throughout the poem “Because of Your Elite Status” by Claudia Rankine a Jamaican poet, essayist, and playwright who graduated from Colombia University, often utilizes the literary device of second person. In the piece the reader is referred to by using the word you, in two situations where race seems to be a problem. At first you the reader are seated on a plane, assumably a white child boards the plane with her mother and is stunned to see you a person of color seated in the row of three. In the other scenario you are an alumna at lunch with another fellow alumna who tells you about the multiple generations of her family who had gone to the school you both attended.

 

When you are seated on the plane and the white woman approaches with her daughter the poem states “The girl, looking over at you, tells her mother, these are our seats, but this is not what i expected”(Rankine 12). After the child states how surprised she was to see you presumably a person of color in her seat her mother then sits in the middle seat in order to place a barrier between you and her child. Rankine really allows the reader to shift from their daily lives into the shoes of the character who is seated on the plain by directly placing them into the characters life. By doing this the reader is forced to put themselves in the same situation and think about what their reaction would be.

Another instance where Rankine puts the reader in the driver’s seat of scenarios is when the character we are supposedly reading about, an alumna is joined by another alumna who is presumably white. She begins to tell you about how her son was not allowed to attend the school because of programs that were put into action in order to help people of color advance in society; by giving them certain advantages based off of their skin color. The poem causes the reader to think personally on the situation by stating “You are not sure if you are meant to apologize for this failure of your alma master’s legacy program; instead you ask where he ended up” (Rankine 13). By the reader being referred to as you in this text the reader is being directly questioned in this situation. Throughout the poem the readers outside presence switches to a more intimate version, where the reader can truly place themselves in the situation at hand; they begin to question how they would react and feel. By using the word you the reader is given an active role of power throughout the poem which makes the entire reading more personable.

 

Works Cited

Rankine, Claudia. “Because of Your Elite Status”. Citizen An American Lyric, Graywolf Press, 2014,pp. 12-13.

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What Was The Need For Race?

Image result for race

Race is a very puzzling idea for multiple people. Often there is a questioning of why such a concept was created in the first place. Along with who would want to be held responsible for separating humanity rather than bringing us closer together?

The answer of why race was created  and why it’s such an influential word are discussed in the book So You Want to Talk About Race a collection of short essays by writer, speaker, and internet yeller Ijeoma Oluo. The book describes how to have conversations relating to race, and how not to offend people when discussing such a sensitive topic, while giving readers a close look into Oluo’s encounters with issues relating to race throughout her life. The book states “The ultimate goal of racism was the profit and comfort of the white race,specifically, of rich white men. The oppression of people of color was an easy way to get this wealth and power, and racism was a good way to justify it.”(Oluo 32). This statement explains how race was an ideal created specifically for the enhancement of people who were not of color, rather than the lives of everyone.

Oluo’s statement lacks historical background, but the historical information presented in the podcast How Race Was Made by journalist, reporter, and documentary-maker John Biewen proves Olulo’s statement. The podcast describes the actions of a man named Zurara, who was given the task of documenting and writing a bibliography on Prince Henry’s process of  retrieving natives from Sub Saharan Africa in order to enslave them during the year 1444. The podcast describes Zurara’s actions by saying  “he had to basically combine all of the different ethnic groups that Prince Henry was enslaving into one people, and then describing that people as inferior” (Biewen). This statement is an early historical demonstration of people who looked the same being categorized as inferior, while making another group of people look superior.

Through understanding both of these quotes from Oluo’s book and Beiwen’s podcast, it is revealed that race was established only for the mere beneficiary of people who were not of color in society. It is hard to believe a false concept created so long ago that separates our world is still so influential. But ultimately race was created in order to justifiably oppress black and brown people for the benefit of people who were not of color in society.

Works Cited

Oluo, Ijeoma. So you want to talk about race. Seal Press, 2018, New York, NY.

“Seeing White, Part 2”. How Race Was Made. Scene On Radio. from Scene on Radio, 1 March 2017, http://www.sceneonradio.org/episode-32-how-race-was-made-seeing-white-part-2/

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