The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, is one of the many incredible books I had time to read over the winter break. The title of the book was inspired by a tattoo that Tupac Shakur has that says, “Thug Life.” According to a video interview, Shakur explains that it is an acronym that stands for, “The Hate U Give Little Infants F*$%s Everybody. T-H-U-G-L-I-F-E.” In other words, hate breeds hate among not only those who are the recipients of the hate but those who witness the daily dispensation of hate all around them. Shakur’s statement reminds me of the song, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught,” from South Pacific.
You can read a thorough review of The Hate U Give here. I finished the book at 2 am one morning, so moved by the story and its characters that I couldn’t go to sleep. Although the book has more to do with oppression than depression, I couldn’t stop thinking about this sentence from the book, “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right,” an inspiration for someone like me who feels like everything I do comes out wrong. And even though Shakur’s tattoo is most likely aimed specifically at the hatred engendered by racism, hate seems to have also become the weapon of those who choose to stereotype religions, political differences, those who don’t conform with traditional gender definitions, and mental illness.
Words are so incredibly powerful. I can give you hundreds of examples of children who have based their actions on what they have heard from adults. Hate spawns more hate, but we don’t have to accept this insidious progression. We can stop hate in its tracks by giving ourselves permission to hope, instead. When we allow ourselves to hope that most people have goodness in them, that the people who seem different from us really have many of the same struggles and fears, and that supporting each other will be more effective than condemning everyone who deviates from our idea of “normal,” less people will feel the need to resort to hate. We will see that as fewer people are scarred by hatred, there won’t be as many inclined to hate. Imagine how liberating it would be for all of us to worry about being on the receiving end of that hate.
Maybe we can make, “The Hope U Give Little Infants Frees Everyone,” more powerful than its origin.