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Mark Salanger

Mr. Newvine

AP Literature & Composition

17 June 2019

With each year, decade and century, new forms of racism are birthed into our society.

Though slavery was abolished in 1865, racism is still alive, and continues to grow unbeknownst

to many. The novel ​Dear Martin​ by Nic Stone and the film ​The Hate U Give​ both shed light on

the many racial injustices that African Americans, among many, face through extremities

ranging from racial profiling to deadly police brutality. Because imminent societal problems are

included in contemporary pieces of art, the more exposure and advocating for change there is in

the world. Both of these pieces offer young adults a window into a world replete with problems

that need solving.

Novels that focus on the hardships that minorities face are often hard to find: however,

these novels are important to the develpment of our society. The novel ​Dear Martin​ focuses on

an African American, straight A, Yale bound and the racial injustices he faces. Nic Stone is able

to channel a character’s feelings that many will never feel in their life. "Every time I turn on the

news and see another black person gunned down, I'm reminded that people look at me and see a

threat instead of a human being" (Stone 95). This embodies the dehumanization that the main

charcter, Justyce, is feeling. It is important that imminent societal problems, such as racism, are
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introduced to contemporary art becuase it creates a window that accentuates the pain and in this

case, dehumanization ​that he is feeling. As much as one can recognize that there are problems in

society, depicting harsh realities highlights the need for change related to injustices that are

common in our world. In addition to channeling feelings that many readers may never feel, Nic

Stone is able to emphasize the thoughts of a discriminated African American teen. "Why try to

do right if people will always look at me and assume wrong?" (Stone 144). It is easy to jump to

conclusions regarding why (predominantly) African American’s people act out, but by

explaining the stories of their harships allows us to understand the thought process that one is

feeling. Justyce, who is an all around great kid, is having thoughts of hopelessness and he is tired

of doing good. By telling his story through a piece of contmeporary art, one can see why we need

to spark change regarding racial profiling instead of naming struggling African American’s

“thugs”. There are reasons behind people’s thoughts and feelings regardless of the sitaution, the

exposure of these problems allows for society to understand how people handle the sitautions

they are put in. Not only does art that discusses societal problems elicit sympathy, it is a means

of advocating for change.

Film has the power to express and shape a culture. The film ​The Hate U Give,​ based off

of the novel written by Angie Thomas delves into the story of a sixteen year old girl, Starr, who

has witnessed the murder of her childhood friend due to police brutality. In a scene where Starr’s
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younger brother, Sekani, pulls out a gun to defend his family amidst the chaos that this murded

has brought, Starr says the following, “T-H-U-G-L-I-F-E. This is it. The hate you give little

infants f’s everybody. Look at Sekani. He’s the little infant. The result of hate. And he’s about to

fuck everybody. It’s not the hate you give, it’s the hate we give” (​The Hate U Give​). This scene

depicts what not many can say that they have lived to see, but it sheds light on an important

subject. Bringing imminent societal problems into contemporary art allows us to recognize

problems such as this, but more importantly, create solutions to fix problems like this. As Sekani

makes the grave decision to pick up the gun, we are confronted with not the fact that he did it,

but we can see why he did it. These minor details in contemporary art that take seconds to reveal,

have extremely prominent impacts on those who witness it. Film has the power to call the

viewers to action which further demonstrates the importnace of including prominent issues that

hurt society into contemporary art such as film. With this being said, towards the end of the film

Starr joins a protest where she defends her and fellow African American rights. Amidst a chaotic

riot Starr says, “No matter what that grand jury decided, I’m still ‘Starr who was with Khalil’,

and I don’t wanna be seen tonight. Just heard” (​The Hate U Give)​ . Tear gas is thrown, crowds

gather, and chants fill the street. The camera captures this chaotic environment of the protest

along with the purpose that Starr speaks with. The inclusion of scenes filled wiht purpose and
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passion such as this spark viewers to want to create change. By brining societal issues to live

through film, the world can recognize the problems that need solving.

One cannot wait on the world to change. One must set forth and change the world. By

including​ imminent societal problems in contemporary pieces of art, the more exposure and

advocating for change there is in the world. Both the novel ​Dear Martin a​ nd the film ​The Hate U

Give o​ ffer young adults a window into a world replete with problems that need solving. Racism

is just a word, but art evokes a feeling, and feelings evoke change.