In November 2017, a complaint was lodged against The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas by a man to Katy Independent School District (KISD) school board. At this point, a “reconsideration committee” will be convened included one person who has experienced with the book and other members including library staff, district staff, students, parents and any other person that wants to be involved. This procedure was completely disregarded by the superintendent and this is why I’m helping put The Hate U Give back into communities in Katy, TX.
If you haven’t read The Hate U Give, here’s what it’s about: Starr Carter is a teenager who attends a wealthy private school, but lives in a poor POC neighborhood. She struggles to decide which world is more representative of who she is. The people she knows at school are unaware of her other life and the people in her neighborhood give her a hard time about her school. Khalil is her best friend from childhood and finds him at a party she attends. While taking her home, Khalil is pulled over by a cop with Starr in the car. Even though he’s unarmed, the cop shoots him when he opens the door to make sure Starr is okay. This forces Starr to confront these two worlds and, ultimately, finds her voice.
This book has themes commonly found in YA books. Growing up, finding out who your true friends are, discovering who you are, deciding what’s important to you etc. It also gives a frank portrayal of the adults around Starr. You see them in conflict and Starr’s interpretation of it. It also deals frankly with issues that effect our society right now: racism, police violence, protests, and how the media tells these stories to the public.
When I found out what happened in KISD, I was disappointed that the compliant was lodged by someone who maybe read a dozen pages before making a judgment. Even more than that, the superintendent made the decision, bypassing their own procedure, and refuses to discuss it from what I’ve seen so far. They’ve been forced to discuss the book in a forum happening later today, but it’s still concerning given the fact that other books with drug use, cursing, violence, etc. that remain in the libraries.
In my opinion, the vulgarity is no different from what I’ve heard in high school hallways. Most news programs in Houston start with “A man died after…” and children are exposed to violent content during those segments. Regardless of how you feel about the material in the book, one man shouldn’t be able to censor a book for the entire district. According to the National Coalition Against Censorship, the book has been returned to shelves, but requires parental consent, pending review.
In December, I was asked by Kelly Jensen to participate in project to put The Hate U Give in little free libraries in Katy, TX. I immediately jumped at the chance. This book is tough to read, but I know it’s also an important read. It’s now been a week since the project started. After receiving dozens of books, thank you notes, and been in Katy, TX to drop books off, I’m overwhelmed with the generosity of others. The experiences and lives of black teenagers are valuable and worthy of telling their stories and I hope that the books get to the children who want to read them soon.
Kelly wrote about the project in more detail at stackedbooks.org. If you would like to donate, Kelly set up Amazon lists that make donating really easy. If you’re not able to donate, sharing the article or any of Kelly’s tweets would go a long way to getting the word out. For now, I’ll continue packing books in my trunk, annoying my apartment complex, and dropping off The Hate U Give in communities around Katy, TX.
Until next time, happy reading everyone!