“Never let yourself be bullied into silence. Don’t let anyone define you, define yourself. Choose your words, think carefully, and then speak up your thoughts.” Throughout the novel The Hate U Give, the main character, Starr grows into her own voice. By speaking up for and defending her friend Khalil, she demonstrates the importance of using her voice. Throughout the story Starr goes through many emotional stages, she experiences grief and disbelief, which turns into anger, and later thrives into action.
After the death of Khalil, Starr finds it hard to address the situation at all. Before Khalil died he was a drug dealer for the King Lords. This is one of the reasons Starr is afraid to speak up. She doesn’t want to put herself or her family into harm’s way because of the King Lords. Along with her fear of the King Lords, Starr attends Starr attends Williamson Prep, a predominately white school. She is hesitant to speaking up about the killing because, she doesn’t want the white children to see her as another poor black girl from the hood, who saw their friend get killed. Afraid of judgment, Starr continues to be silent.
As the story continues Williamson Prep holds a “march” for Khalil’s killing, but really it was just an excuse for them to get out of class, in return this angers Starr. She begins to realize that the children didn’t take Khalil’s death seriously and she decides that she must voice the way she feels on the issue. Furthermore Kenya, Starr’s “step sister”/friend, calls Starr out for not speaking up for Khalil. She feels as though Khalil would speak up for Starr if the roles were reversed. Ms. Ofrah arranged a nationally televised interview for Starr to finally use her voice and speak up about her friend’s undeserved death. Starr states “… Ms. Ofrah said this interview is the way I fight. When you fight, you put yourself out there, not caring who you hurt or if you’ll get hurt. So, I throw one more blow, right at One-Fifteen. I’d ask him if he wished he shot me too”. This statement is important because, Starr’s interview is a pivotal moment in her transformation from being too afraid to speak up for Khalil, to leading the protests against his death, and any other deaths in her neighborhood, Garden Heights.
While riding in the car, a radio station announces that the grand jury decided not to indict Officer Cruise. As the group of children ride down the street they see crowds of people rioting and protesting. Police cars are being set on fire, stores without “black owned” graffiti are being broken into, and people are chanting “F*ck the Police”. As the group continues to ride down the street, there is another protest taking place on the street where Khalil was shot. At this protest Starr sees Ms. Ofrah leading chants on top of a patrol car. Ms. Ofrah expresses to Starr that she has to use her platform and use her voice. Soon after Starr gets on top of the car and leads her own chant, “Khalil lived”. A police officer throws a tear gas can at her and she picks it up and throws it back. “Everybody wants to talk about how Khalil died,’ I say. ‘But this isn’t about how Khalil died. It’s about the fact that he lived. His life mattered. Khalil lived!’ I look at the cops again. ‘You hear me? Khalil lived!”. This quote is significant because Starr is no longer afraid to speak up for what she believes in.
In The Hate U Give Starr grows into her own voice, by channeling her anger and turning it into a voice that speaks for a greater cause. She demonstrates the importance of speaking up by expressing her thoughts on injustice…“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”