I watched “The Hate You Give,” and it changed me.
Bright lights flicker and fade to grey and then darkness.
I scooch back into my snuggly, red plush seat, and the projector reveals a figure on the screen. I look right, barely able to make out the face of my girlfriend sitting only inches away. The pitch black of the theater invites me to focus on one image — the man about to speak to me, large and looming, straight ahead. I feel a connection with the man on the screen because his face is the only face that is illuminated. The darkness of the theater has a special kind of superpower. It creates an intimacy between myself and the man who has just introduced himself as George Tillman, Jr — the incredibly gifted and bold director of The Hate U Give.
His deep voice speaks. With conviction, Tillman looks into the camera, his eyes seemingly focused on the millions of us sitting in the theater. He introduces this story of Starr, an African-American teenager whose name was gifted her by her father, that she might be a bright light for truth. The book was written by Angie Thomas.
But the story is also being written out in our lives today. How will we respond in conversations about racism? Will we be receptive to hearing and seeing the social ramifications created by hundreds of years of white-impelled shame on people of color?
Nearing the end of his introduction to the film, Tilllman challenges his viewers: After experiencing The Hate You Give, might you be changed?
Tillman actually gives the audience fair warning, You might be changed.
Dear God, please…I pray that we might be. We do not want to run away from conversations about racism.
Conversations about racism should not scare us. Conversations about racism should change us.
This body shaming tool, skin-color shame, is yet another weapon that Satan has been wielding for generations. As God-fearing believers, we can unite to dismantle this weapon. There is time and space to discuss how racism has been used as a shaming tool that isolates a group of people and defames their physical appearance.
So, believers for change, stand up!
But be ready. Choosing to stand up isn’t necessarily an invitation to be the first and loudest speaker in the room. In standing together, we choose to listen first, even before opening our mouths to speak in defense.
Brene Brown Offers Her Perspective on Shame
Actually, I can already hear the voices speaking in defense. Please, simmer down. I know there are some of you who hear the name Brene Brown and cringe. But read this and listen. It speaks to the power shame has in our human experience.
In her article published in January, 2013, Brown defines shame as an “intensely powerful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging — something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”
For all human beings, there are experiences we do not get excited about bringing up.
Some of us claim we just don’t see the point of bringing up “that event” from our teen years. That was before I became a Christian.
Some of us claim it will hurt the people in our lives to hear what we’ve done. That was before I changed my ways.