Double Consciousness in “The Hate U Give 

By Kinzie Baker

“The Hate You Give” is a recent, socially-relevant film that tells a story that is “torn from the headlines” of today. The title of the film is taken from Tupac’s Thug Life concept, an acronym for The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone. In the original novel that the film was based on, Khlalil breaks this concept down saying, “T-H-U-G-L-I-F-E. Meaning what society gives us as youth, it bites them in the ass when we wild out.” The internalization of this hate and discrimination by young children them forms the very foundation of our flawed society. The film explores and rejects the theme of racial double consciousness in the form of a coming-of-age story of a young black girl.

Starr’s home is in Garden Heights, a primarily black neighborhood with high crime rates and low chances of making it out. She goes to school at Williamson, a private college prepatory high school in a white, affluent suburb. Starr’s father, Maverick Carter, is an ex-gang member and drug dealer, and her mother, Lisa Carter, works as a nurse at a hospital. Her parents are seen in the film to actively be working to break the cycle of violence with their children.

When she enters her school every day, she turns off “Garden Heights Starr” and becomes “Starr 2.0”, an alternate identity in which she tones down her “blackness”. She speaks more clearly, abstains from “ghetto” talk and mannerisms. W.E.B. Du Bois dubbed this phenomenon double consciousness. A conflicting sensation felt by black people who are aware of society’s perception of race, and feel the need to or do act in a different manner used to make them appear less threatening and less black in white spaces, especially to law enforcement.

Image result for the hate u give
The Hate U Give,© 2018, 20th Century Fox

This double consciousness beings with the opening scene of the film in which Starr’s father is lecturing her and her siblings about what to do if confronted by a police officer. This exposes Starr to society’s and law enforcement’s perception of black people at a young age and the criminalization of blackness, and furthers the reinforcement of double consciousness or dual identities that we see develop and break down in the film.

Double consciousness is also constructed in the scene in which Khalil is pulled over by a police officer. Although unaware of what he did wrong, Khalil speaks in a different manner to the member of law enforcement while Starr urges him to stick to her father’s rules of safety to “put his hands on the dash” and not make any sudden movements, despite his innocence.

Image result for the hate u give khalil car
The Hate U Give,© 2018, 20th Century Fox

Throughout the film, Starr slowly begins to reject the necessity of double consciousness and a dual identity. This process begins after Khalil was murdered in an act of police brutality, forcing Starr to confront the reality of blackness in America. At first, Starr keeps her life-long friendship with Khalil a secret and doesn’t tell anyone that she was the witness to his killing, but after her white friend Hailey verbalizes her sympathy for the cop that shot him, Starr becomes angry and begins to see the two worlds that she resides in more clearly.

Her rejection of double consciousness starts as she questions her friendship with her friends who “don’t see race”, challenging a popular concept in white American culture which diminishes the experiences of racial minorities and not acknowledging the causes of racial injustice by blurring the color of their skin. Slowly, she gains more confidence in herself and loses her fear of angering others in an attempt not to be seen as the “angry black girl” and begins to discover her racial identity as a black woman. She challenges her peers at Williamson and their intentions in participating in a Black Lives Matter event, discovers the power of her voice at a city-wide protest, and unpacks the trauma that her racial identity has caused her to experience.

Image result for the hate u give
The Hate U Give,© 2018, 20th Century Fox

“The Hate U Give” is a ground-breaking film that sheds light on very relevant problems in American society, but in a way, it explores double consciousness and Starr’s racial identity in a very safe manner that excludes the experiences of some black people and makes these themes more easily consumable for white audiences. The main character, Starr, is a young, black female who attends a primarily white institution (PWI). Her age, gender, and educational status at a PWI make her a less threatening figure to the white audience and allow them to more easily empathize with her than, for example, an older black male with a public education from a predominately black or minority institution. In Starr’s case, double consciousness or code switching was a tool mostly of convenience but in many other cases it is a tool for survival.


Works Cited

Black Lives Matter, Union Labor,

“Double Consciousness.” Double Consciousness [DuBoisopedia], UMass, 18 Dec. 2013,

Jerebek, Joshua. “Racial Identity Development in T.H.U.G.” Gender and Diversity in Film, WordPress, 3 Mar. 2019,

Reid, Claire. “The Real Meaning Behind Tupac’s ‘Thug Life’ Tattoo.” LADbible, LADbible.

Stafford, Zach. “When You Say You ‘Don’t See Race’, You’re Ignoring Racism, Not Helping to Solve It | Zach Stafford.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 26 Jan. 2015,

The Hate U Give. Directed by George Tillman Jr., 20th Century Fox, 19 Oct. 2018

“The Hate U Give.” IMDb,, 19 Oct. 2018,

15 thoughts on “Double Consciousness in “The Hate U Give 

  1. You have a really great writing style and I really liked the lyrics that you added at the end and how you spread them out, it was a really good attention grabber. You also used really great pictures from the film that flow really well with the argument that you are making. I really enjoyed reading this blog overall and though that there were a lot of good insights that you had. I think it would be really interesting if you found stats about race in America and hyperlinked them in your blog! Really great job.


  2. This is an awesome topic and you do a great job of showing it’s relevance in the film and breaking it down for the reader. I think you chose a topic that many people outside of a minority race group choose to ignore or are not aware of and turn it into an educational experience while using cinema, which is a great way to make people understand. The lyric addition is creative and meaningful. Well done on your post, i think you did a great job and really have a sound analysis.


  3. Du Bois’ double consciousness was a great lens through which to analyze race in this film. You do a great job of explaining it as a concept and as it applies to the film. My one suggestion is about the integration of Tupac’s poem at the end. The poem is a wonderful addition, which significantly adds to your already solid post. However, I think the poem just sort of hangs there with no explicit connective material. I would consider introducing it to the reader. Possibly, you could say something prompting the reader to reflect on the poem in relation to The Hate U Give. I think so explicit written introducing statement to the poem would strengthen the connections between it and your post. Good luck with your revisions!


  4. I really like how you ended your article. I haven’t seen this movie yet, but I’ve wanted to see it since I saw the trailer. Your article made me really excited to watch it. Good job.


  5. I think you bring an extremely important argument to the table. While double consciousness is a tool utilized, sadly, in reality- it also makes it ‘easier’ for the white audience. In this way, the film reflects reality but distorts what reality ‘should’ be in order to be a more pleasant viewing experience. I think you write beautifully and explore different elements of the film to back up your argument. I would make sure you cite the references you use in your Bibliography. I also would suggest maybe starting with the lyrics instead of ending with them to provide better context for the reader before delving into your argument.


  6. Great job of connecting double consciousness with this film! i think it would be a good idea to add clips of Starr portraying her different “identities”. Just a suggestion though! Otherwise, good connection!


  7. Good analysis! I was briefly confused at the beginning because you talked about a novel… maybe make this part a little clearer? (although this could all be my ignorance here). Also, I think that the excerpt at the end could use a bit of a preface. Great job, here! I’m really looking forward to seeing this film!


  8. I like how your argument forms a sort of circle. You begin by touching on how the film’s title is sourced from Tupac, and end with his lyrics. This is a really nice connection. I think it helps make your argument feel like it is worth reading, and like the analysis is going somewhere.


  9. I really, really like this article! Double consciousness plays a very big role in the novel and in Starr’s life specifically. The hyperlinks and connected material were great and very helpful. I really don’t have any suggestions! Good job!


  10. I think while this piece told the story like it is, it is a sad story. Even when trying to produce a film that is ground breaking, the film industry still felt the need to shave parts off the reality to make it more consumable for white audiences. “Her age, gender, and educational status at a PWI make her a less threatening figure to the white audience and allow them to more easily empathize with her than, for example, an older black male with a public education from a predominately black or minority institution.” This is a saddening reality that you called out. In a class in which we study gender and diversity in film, it’s important to note that even when we take steps forward progressively, we still aren’t showing the harsher realities. We water it down. Thank you for analyzing with keen insight and a sharp eye.


  11. Your use of DuBois’s theory of double consciousness was an awesome lens to view this film with. The graphics were a good representation of the ideas you explored in the text, as well. If anything, I would say it may be interesting to incorporate an analysis of Starr’s relationship with white people at the end of the movie too. I say this because while I agree she becomes aware of the double consciousness she was implementing in her life, she also grows to appreciate the allies in her primarily-white school. Well done, overall!


  12. I found this blog post super informative and can not wait to watch this movie. Your analysis is very well stated and the flow of the blog is great. I am very interested to learn more about double consciousness and how that affects minorities coming into white dominated schools and areas. Very informative and look forward to watching this film, and thanks for doing a film that was super unique!


  13. I love that you talk about double conciseness. I think it is a very important subject that very few white people are aware of. I also love that you talk about and show that Starr is the character that has been chosen because she makes it more comfortable for white people to listen to her experience and learn from her. Sadly this is the case in our society and I think you do a good job at showing that it is not great that this is the case but at this point in society it is better than not getting such an important subject across.


  14. I like the concept, I’m not sure I understand the first paragraph fully though I do like knowing the acronym. I have never seen the movie or read the book, but I will try my best to understand the context in which you give. I apologize in advance if something I interpret is wrong. I liked the idea a lot. I definitely think it relates to a previous post I read about Love Simon being easily consumable for a white audience as well. I definitely feel that that is a mindset that people must consider when educating people on these issues because it almost sugar coats realities. The last paragraph is especially strong! And not necessary, but you could add a clip.


  15. Excellent application and analysis, Kinzie! You use DuBois’ idea of double consciousness effectively for your own analysis of the film. I would just be sure to include his ideas and the song by Tupac in your Works Cited. I think the song ties nicely into your argument as well and really strengthens your post overall!


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