The Hate U Give serves as an excellent high school level trauma text and as a way to discuss social equity in a classroom. It compares favorably with the likes of Slaughter House Five and The Things They Carried as a trauma novel while also approaching it from a new direction, racial violence rather than war trauma.
The focus on Starr’s community and the spaces she lives in connects with Michelle Balaev’s account of trends in trauma novels. The effect of the traumatic killing of Kahlil has a great effect on the community space and Starr. Starr oscillates between being silent and later her desire to speak out. Balaey says that silence is used to a variety of rhetorical effects. In The Hate U Give Starr uses silence to protect herself and try to understand the murder of her friend. The Hate U Give can be a way to approach not only social inequity and racism but also the messiness of trauma and how people understand and try to recover from trauma.
With The Hate U Give and other works that focus on racism against people of color inevitably it comes up about how should the n-word be addressed in a classroom. Grinage’s “Combating Huck Finn’s censorship” provides an excellent frame-work on how to tackle this discussion in a classroom. The biggest takeaway from the article is the purposeful build up to the addressing and tackling of the n-word and other emotional charged words. Building up classroom practices that support effective classroom discussion and building background on the subject are done purposefully over a period of time. This approach seems to be an effective way to discuss any traumatic or heavy subject. Discussions on important social ideas cannot be done lightly or off the cuff. The lessons need to be planned, scaffolded, and designed usefully well in advance in order to best serve the students and generate beneficial discussion and ideas and not repeat previous trauma.