I was put up for adoption when I was five years old. I know a little something about being torn from family and put with strangers. I’ve experienced group homes, foster homes, and detention centers firsthand. Incarcerated as a juvenile? Check. Surviving emotional scarring from childhood trauma? Check.
But let me tell you something—everything I went through is a fucking walk in the park compared to what those children of migrants and asylum-seekers are going through right now. Especially the >2k that are already spread out across the U.S. with no contingency plan to speak of to normalize their situation or reunite them with their family. I’m reading reports of migrant children being tied down to chairs and beaten, of psychiatric medication being forced on them to make them docile, of sexual assault. My experience is barely a fraction of a percent of theirs and the black hole of untold horrors in their present and future makes me furious, sickened and heartbroken.
Commonly, when I speak of my past with people who have known me for a long time, but knew nothing of my childhood, they are shocked. They say, that must have been so hard. They say, you are so strong to have survived that. I hate that part of the conversation. It’s nonsense. I wasn’t forced to watch the brutal murder of my family by Boko Haram before being given to a mercenary as a sex slave. I wasn’t imprisoned in Yemen and tortured with my genitals electrocuted or poles shoved up my anus. I wasn’t even a child of a family who was forced to flee their home to seek asylum in a country whose administration hates foreigners SO MUCH they would rip me from my mother’s arms and put me in a fucking kennel.
Shit, I think me and my white privilege made out alright.
And don’t come at me with that, “but they broke the law!”, bullshit. I don’t give a fuck. I’m not going to argue with anyone over the semantics of asylum-seekers versus illegal immigrants. I believe all people are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of happiness. I believe these truths to be self-evident and extend to indigenous, migrant, and civilian people. I believe in treating all persons, civilian or otherwise, with compassion and dignity, in holding their human rights sacrosanct, and that any law that defies these rights are abhorrent and should be fought.
I had planned to recap my festival shenanigans from last weekend, to review which acts I liked and which I didn’t, to tell a few jokes, to complain about getting rear-ended—but after coming home and reading the news about this bullshit happening at our border, I couldn’t stomach it. It would stink of privilege and it would stink of disregard.
Instead, I would like to review a book called, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
The Hate U Give is a story about a sixteen-year old girl named Star. Struggling with the trauma of witnessing her friend being killed in a drive-by and the social discomfort of being one of the few black students of a primarily white private high school, Star attends a party in her neighborhood during spring break. There, she is briefly reunited with a
childhood friend who drives her away from the party when a fight breaks out. They are pulled over for a broken tail light, her friend is forced from the car and later shot to death.
As the key witness, Star is called on to testify in the subsequent investigation which will determine whether the officer involved is charged with murder. As she deals with the grief of a second loved one lost to gun violence, riots rip through her city, gang activity intensifies around her, her parents’ marriage becomes strained, and she questions her role in the dynamic of her nucleus of friends, her identity, and her loyalty to her community.
The Hate U Give is tragically and powerfully relevant. I had the pleasure of listening to the audio book narrated by the exceptionally talented Bahni Turpin. Thomas’ deeply nuanced narration of Star partnered with Turpin’s voice acting was enough to bring me to tears on several occasions. I was especially moved by the depiction of Star’s parents, whose tumultuous history and tender love felt organic and three dimensional. Family, friendship, and young love teeter breathtakingly with Star’s post-traumatic fear of law enforcement, her struggle with the gang community of her neighborhood, and the unfair slander of her dead friend.
This is an experience you don’t want to miss. You can find The Hate U Give anywhere books and audiobooks are available. I rented mine through my local library via an app called Libby! The Hate U Give is a #1 New York Times Best Seller and has been awarded the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Coretta Scott King Honor (Author), Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominee (Mystery Writers of America), Michael L. Printz Honor Book, National Book Award Longlist, and the William C. Morris Award, among others. Turpin also earned the Audie Award for Best Female Narrator this year!
AND, The Hate U Give is currently being filmed. The theatrical release is planned for October.
You can check out the author here:
And follow the film project here:
Rest in Peace, Antwon Rose. I am so sorry. You deserved a long life as bright and joyful as your smile.