This weekend, my Husband, our daughter Kaly (who is 12) and I finally watched the movie adaption of The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas.
I read the book last year, even though I remember putting it off again and again. You see, there are books I know I have to read but the topic scares me for a reason or another, so I push back the date I’ll finally get to it. This was the case for The Hate U Give
If you want, I’ll talk more about this book in a specific blog-post because this one is not about it but about what it brought in my heart, again.
Kaly knew what the story was about (a teenage girl is the only witness of her best friend’s murder at the hands of a cop, to make it very short). It is about Black People. The story is about the pull of knowing where you come from, but wanting something more anyway. It is about family and friendship and community. But mostly, this story is about finding your voice and deciding: do you speak up or stay silent?
Art is my Voice
I am guilty. Guilty of not speaking up for what matters. For not being an advocate.
For the past couple years, I have been painting and using my art journals to process the feelings of injustice, of being on the wrong side of the skin tone color spectrum, of fear that I will die for something I did not commit. I am scared for myself, for my children, for my people. I am in rage, actually. But what do I do about it? Nothing. Because educating people is fucking exhausting, but if not us, then who?
I knew we would have to talk about what this means. We are a mixed family (I am already from bi-racial parents, and my Husband is White… so we make a visually interesting bunch, the four of us.) I had THE TALK with my daughters a few years ago. That talk we have no other choice but to have: what do you do if you are arrested by a cop? I won’t lie: I am more scared to go to the US than I have ever been. It is safer here in Canada, but for how long? We can’t deny I am a woman of colour. Kaly is paler than I am but usually, people wonder. Mae is not visually near being Brown and my Husband is clearly White. I was asked in the past if I was the Mom (note: this fucking hurts).
My Husband and I are very different people, but somehow that might be why we work so well together. At some point in the story, Starr (the main protagonist) and her boyfriend (who is White) have a talk and she tells him “If you don’t see my blackness, then you don’t see me“. That’s when he tries to explain to her that he does see her skin colour, but it is not what he truly and deeply sees when he looks at her. And this is a discussion Chéri and I had over the years… Because he does not see my blackness either, and sometimes it is hard for me to talk about what it is to be a person of colour in a White family, that there will always be this disconnection between him and myself because of it.
Just thinking and writing about it makes me cry because this is a touchy subject. Something that is so difficult for me to articulate properly. But I feel like I have been silent for too long now, and I will speak my truth and use my weapon: my voice.
In the book, Angie Thomas uses 2Pac as a reference a lot.
The title comes from something he apparently said: “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone” (that is what his famous “THUG LIFE” stands for).
What do you think when you read this statement? Does it sound true, in your heart?