Angie Thomas, a best-selling author of “On The Come Up” and “The Hate U Give,” recently joined the masses to protest against the killing of George Floyd. Floyd’s video went viral on social media, creating public outrage against racial injustice and police brutality.
As supporters chanted the hashtag “Black Lives Matter” while protesting in streets all over the world, Thomas saw something that made her feel empathic. She saw young people holding up signs that resembled the book cover for her 2007 debut book “The Hate U Give.”
This book cover features a black female wearing Jordans as a protagonist holds a sign with the title of the book. Some of her young audience showed up at protests with the same illustration but with different messages concerning police brutality.
According to Author Thomas, young people now realize their power, and with the help of her book, they can speak up. Thomas is truly a voice among the voiceless, influencing young people to take action through the knowledge found in her books.
As the current systematic racism and inequality continues, books on anti-racism have been flying off the shelves. For example, in the New York Times Best Seller list, anti-racist literature tops the list of the most read books.
Although many people believe that reading different black perspectives and stories is vital to combating racism, Thomas believes books surpass the current social upheaval. Reading can only go as far as instilling a sense of knowledge and understanding in individuals. But, with the right steps, it can empower the next generation of public figures and leaders.
The “power of books”
Thomas believes that books have the power to shape young people for the future by giving them better tools to become exceptional leaders. She has witnessed the power books have after her debut book topped the New York Times bestseller list.
The book has also been adapted into a film starring Amanda Stenberg. Black Lives Matter inspires the book, and it narrates how Starr Carter tries to balance her new private school that is mostly white with her Black upbringing. But, an encounter with law enforcement results in her childhood friend’s death, forcing Carter to use her voice to seek justice.
Thomas’ book has a compelling and captivating narration that creates mirrors and doors for young audiences to see themselves in a world full of social inequality and racism. With her diverse storytelling skills, Thomas hopes to build empathy among young people while encouraging them to speak up.
According to Thomas, some of the current political leaders don’t have compassion for the average African American as the white Western canon taught in higher education and public schools. However, if they were to read some of the books on racism, they would understand the term, Black Lives Matter.
In her book, Thomas attempted to build empathy for Starr and her father, Maverick. Maverick’s narration features his journey from living a life in the streets to becoming a respected and loving family man.
Maverick’s story line is currently the story line of another upcoming novel by Thomas. Most of Thomas’s readers resonated with Maverick’s character, and she believes it’s because it represents the everyday Black man. From their daily struggles to the discrimination and injustice they face, Maverick is a sole representation of black men worldwide.
After Floyd’s death, Maverick’s character became a symbol of what young black men have lost to society since time immemorial.
“The Hate U Give” was debuted three years ago, and up to date, it echoes the reality of many African Americans and Black Americans. Whether one has been threatened or killed by law enforcement or their loved ones have faced such social injustices, this book continues to inspire young people to be the change they seek for a better world.