Angie Thomas: 2017 National Book Festival

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>>From the Library of
Congress in Washington D.C.>>Angie Thomas: Okay we’re
going to be like this. Say hey.>>Hey!>>Angie Thomas: Alright
[inaudible]. [ Laughter ] Who’s sway? Okay here we go and I’m on mic so.>>Marisa Bellack: Alright let’s go. Hi I’m Marisa Bellack, I’m an
editor at the Washington Post, which is a charter sponsor of
the book festival and I’m pleased to have a conversation
today with Angie Thomas, author of the bestselling young
adult novel “The Hate You Give.” [ Applause ] I think most of you know
something about her, but I will do a quick introduction
before we start talking here. Angie was born in the Georgetown
neighborhood of Jackson, Mississippi, which she describes
as one of the poorest neighborhoods in the poorest state in the country. Growing up she said she imagined
a local crack den as a dragon lair and she wished for superhero speed
to avoid getting caught in gunfire. The Hate You Give began
as a short story that Angie wrote during her senior
year at Belhaven University. And she says it was
inspired by the shooting of Oscar Grant in Oakland in 2009. But Angie was actually focused
pitching an upper middle grade super hero novel.>>Angie Thomas: Totally different.>>Marisa Bellack: In 2015 when she
asked a literary agent via Twitter what he thought of.>>Angie Thomas: Millennial.>>Marisa Bellack: What
he thought of why a book about the black lives
matter movement. Things moved pretty
quickly after that. In October 2015 Angie
was the inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant
for we need diverse books. [ Applause ] In February 2016 The Hate
You Give was acquired by HarperCollins’ Balzer
and Bray in print in a 13 publishing house auction. In March 2016 Fox 2,000 Temple Hill and State Street acquired
the film rights with Hunger Game actress
Amandla Stenberg slated to star and George Tillman Jr. to direct. And the book was published
last February to rave reviews. I’m sure Angie will talk about
some of that wild ride today.>>Angie Thomas: Yes.>>Marisa Bellack: Before we
dive in I’m supposed to mention that the Library of Congress
has been the festival’s host since it would began 17 years ago. I want to thank the co-chairman
of the festival, David Rubenstein and the many national
book festival sponsors who made this event possible. You can support the
festival with a donation, there’s information
in your programs. Please note too that
there’ll be time for questions after we have a conversation here.>>Angie Thomas: Just don’t ask
me for movie roles [laughter].>>Marisa Bellack: And anyone
who ask a question will be filmed for the Library of
Congress’ archive. There will be microphones
in each isle. So now please help me
welcome Angie Thomas:::. [ Applause ]>>Angie Thomas: Thank
you, thank you so much. I’m so happy to be
here, I really am.>>Marisa Bellack: So
let’s just start off. Why did you do this as a YA?>>Angie Thomas: Well first of all
no offense to any adult writers or adults in general, but I
think adult books are boring. I can’t see myself
writing for adults and the reason I’m really excited is because teenagers are much
more open minded than adults. And especially with
a subject like this, I felt like I would get more empathy out of teenagers than
I would adults. And then so many times with
these cases we’re talking about young people. Trayvon Martin teenager, Michael
Brown teen, Tamir Rice 12. So when young people see these
cases they’re affected by it. I know that there were kids
in my neighborhood who looked at Tamir and saw themselves. So I wanted to write it for them, but yeah big thing was I just can’t
see myself writing for adults. It’s amazing to me that adults have
picked it up and have been drawn to it, but I was not
thinking about you all when I wrote this book [laughter].>>Marisa Bellack: So I understand
you had a short lived career as a rapper.>>Angie Thomas: Short.>>Marisa Bellack: And so I
wonder is there something similar about writing Why I Hate
and writing rap lyrics in that the rap’s biggest
audience is that kind of 18 to 24 year old segment?>>Angie Thomas: Oh yeah absolutely. We do not give hip hop
enough credit for giving so many young people a window
to see themselves or a mirror into a world they wouldn’t know of. You wouldn’t know about half the
stuff that happened in Compton, California if it was
not first for NWA. You may not have like
how they said it, it may have made you
uncomfortable, but this is fact. And so when books were not
providing mirrors and windows, hip hop did, I know for me it did. So when I did not see myself you
know, no offense to Twilight, I have nothing against Twilight,
but I know had that been me first of all my mama wouldn’t have let
me date nobody that old [laughter]. So and then with the Hunger Games, you know when I teenager
The Hunger Games were big. Nothing against it, I love The
Hunger Games, but had that been me when I raise my hand my
mom would’ve brought it down and said no, I got this. And it would’ve been called mama
won’t let you go hungry games. That’s a whole different book. So it was hard for me to see
myself in those popular books, but I saw myself in hip hop. When Tupac said the blacker the
berry, the sweeter the juice, the darker the flesh,
the deeper the roots. I give a holler to my
sisters on welfare, Tupac cares if don’t
nobody else care. He spoke to me more than books did. So I think we need to give
more props to hip hop for doing that for kids and I
hope to yeah [applause]. Now don’t get me wrong, the
criticism is rightfully criticized. There’s a lot of work
that needs to be done, but I look at the positive rappers
like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, they’re doing the good work. So I want to give, I’m
going to pay homage to that in my second book promo.>>Marisa Bellack: Look clearly
music had a big influence on this book as well
right, so we have the title which comes from Tupac’s Thug Life.>>Angie Thomas: Yes.>>Marisa Bellack: But you also tell
us about what is playing on the car when your characters get in the car. What’s playing at a party.>>Angie Thomas: I just have to show
my sock, I doubt anybody can see it. I got on Tupac socks, I
doubt you can see that, but I do because I have to
take Pac with me everywhere.>>Marisa Bellack: Those are nice.>>Angie Thomas: Thank you.>>Marisa Bellack: So there’s
characters in your book that are named after the
members of [inaudible] and I know you posted a playlist
of artists that have inspired the, let’s talk a little bit
about the influence of music in the writing of this book.>>Angie Thomas: I always
whenever I write anything I start with a playlist. I know with this book
Tupac was a huge influence in a lot of different ways. Of course there’s a title. It comes from his thug life tattoo. So yes that u is on
purpose grammar nerds. It spells out thug. It comes from Thug
Life and that stood for the hate you give little
infants f’s everybody. And he said that means
that what society feeds into youth has a way
of affecting us all. So, Tupac was influencing
that since also the character of Maverick is influenced by Tupac. And then just music honestly because
I saw myself so much in hip hop and in music more than
I did in books at times. I couldn’t help but
be affected by it. So as I’m writing yeah
I may mention songs, I’m probably doing it a little
too much now in this second book. I don’t think my editor is going
to be happy, but that’s okay. But I think honestly books
and music, they tell stories, they’re forms of storytelling. And honestly for me it’s
hard to avoid using music in a way as influence as I write. So it happens naturally and I
apologize in advance to the people who have to clear lyrics
at HarperCollins.>>Marisa Bellack: So people like
might expect a book like this to focus on the distrust between
African American communities and the police, but you
also have a lot in there about anti-snitch culture. You have about gang
recruitment pressures. Do you see those as kind of
just as constraining or kind of they’re all part
of the same story?>>Angie Thomas: Well honestly when
I wrote this book and I knew going in that it would be a black
lives matter focus book. I knew somebody somewhere
would say well what about black on black crimes? I addressed it, there you go. We’re talking about two
separate issues here. And yeah it’s an important
issue to bring up too and I felt like though I wanted to show yeah
all of the issues that take place in my neighborhood and
neighborhoods like mine. And but still like I said they’re
two separate things and I wanted to show that even through
Starr and her trauma. She has two very separate,
different things that have happened in her life. One was a case of black on black
crime with her friend Natasha. Khalea was a case of
police brutality. Two things that affected her in two
very different ways, yet similar. So I hope that by showing
that two different things, but they still have an effect yeah. I address black on black crime,
but yeah can we still pay attention to what’s happening in
our communities as far as police brutality goes.>>Marisa Bellack: Let’s. [ Applause ] So let’s talk about
Starr a little bit. So you mention that Oscar Grant
had a big influence on this book and the movie “Fruitvale Station,”
which was a very powerful movie, but tried to give a
fuller picture of his life. So can you talk about your
decision to focus on the witness, rather than the victim
of a shooting, the direct victim [inaudible].>>Angie Thomas: That decision
was actually influenced by Trayvon Martin. When Trayvon Martin was killed,
right before it happened he was on the phone with a young lade
by the name of Rachel Jeantel. And Rachel, when Rachel went to
speak on Trayvon’s behalf basically in the trial against George
Zimmerman, there was more focus on how Rachel said things as
opposed to what Rachel was saying. The media, they tore
that girl apart. The people tore that girl apart. I read so many articles about well
she should be more professional or she should be this,
she should be that. Why are we not paying attention
to what this girl is saying? Why are we focused on
how she’s saying it? She sound just like the
girls from my neighborhood. Yeah and they may not be the most
polished, but she’s telling truth. Why aren’t we listening? So with Starr I kind of felt
like Starr was my response. Here’s a young lady, young black
girl from the hood and she’s going to say it the way you
think she should say it, but are you still listening? That’s the question.>>Marisa Bellack: So one thing
that struck me about Starr is that she almost has
two different voices within the book depending
on who all she’s with. Can you talk about how you
developed those voices? I mean is it almost like thinking
about two different characters or do you try to carry
certain things through?>>Angie Thomas: I’m
doing it right now. [ Laughter ] [ Applause ] I mean that’s the truth
of the matter. If I got up here and started staying
fina [phonetic] and stuff like that because I’m southern, you
all would be like what in the world is wrong with her. So code switching. Code switching for so many
of us is a survival tactic because there’s this idea that
if you speak a certain way, all of a sudden you’re
considered ignorant. With Starr I wanted to show a
young lady who does code switch because so many of
us go through that, but then there were two
characters that I wanted to show different sides to and
that’s her uncle and her dad. Maverick her dad, the former gang
member, he says “Aight [phonetic].” Her uncle Carlos the cop alright. I look at them like Will and Carlton
in the Fresh Prince [laughter]. So her dad would be more Will and
her uncle is Carton, but guess what? They’re still both
intelligent black men. They’re very, they have very
important roles in her life and just because Maverick speaks different from Carlos does not
mean he’s any less, he’s any less intelligent
than Carlos. He’s very intelligent. So I wanted to show
yes this young girl who is living these two
different lives happen to be two different people, happen
to change the way she speaks. But I also wanted to show these
two guys who speak differently, present themselves differently,
but they’re still strong black men. And I’ve had a lot of young kids, especially young black girls who’ve
come up to me and said thank you for having Starr code switch. I’ve been accused of sounding white and I just want to
put this out there. I don’t care how you speak, the way you speak does not
determine your blackness and I wish we could get
more people to realize that. So that was for my black
folks, you’ll all know where I’m coming there with that. So I wanted to address that with
this character and show the struggle that so many of us deal
with on a day to day basis.>>Marisa Bellack: Do you think
having a character who moves between different worlds
also helps you relate to your audience differently? I mean you can, you’re not just
writing for people for people from the neighborhood
you grew up in its.>>Angie Thomas: Yeah I think so. I think it has allowed first of
all it showed, it’s shown people that all black kids in the hood
don’t just stay in the hood. You know sometimes they
get bussed to schools across town if nothing else. But her school environment yeah,
I wanted other readers to be able to connect, but it wasn’t as much
a priority as it was for those, as it was to write for those
kids who are like Starr. Who are sometimes the only black kid
in their class or in their school and the pressure that that is. You know like pressure that
comes with that, that was me. I went to a mostly white private
school in Jackson, Mississippi, conservative Jackson, Mississippi. I just said a mouthful. A private Christian
school at that and so for me it was, I had to code switch. I would leave the house blasting
Tupac, but by the time I got to my school I was
playing the Jonas Brothers.>>Marisa Bellack: You
pulled your pants down?>>Angie Thomas: Yeah, yeah
I pulled my pants down. So it was, that was
me, that was my life. You know and I had to deal with
you know when slavery is discussed in class, everybody’s looking
at me like I was there you know. I had to deal with that. So I wanted to write for those
kids that I know who are going through this and who
are dealing with it, but yeah like you said it was a
good way to connect with readers who maybe go to the
private school like Starr. And maybe they’ll see the Starr’s
in their school and they’ll look at them differently and realize
just because where they’re from does not determine
who they are.>>Marisa Bellack: Can
you talk a little bit about how you’ve become a voice
for greater diversity in fiction?>>Angie Thomas: I have?>>Marisa Bellack:
Look at these people. So I mean its one thing to count
up black characters in books. You know how many include
a prominent black character and it’s another for readers to
really find characters who sound like them or think like them. And I know you told,
you did when we spoke about this a little bit before, that
you found, I know you saw yourself in hip hop more than
in books themselves. Do think that’s changing or what
sort of conversations have you had about that since you’ve been
on your book tour in that?>>Angie Thomas: Oh yeah
I think it’s changing. We need diverse books, first of
all is doing incredible work. Shout out to them [applause] and
we are starting to see changes. I hope we will see more changes
because there was a study that came out that showed that there were
more books one year released about animals and trucks than there
were about black kids, Latino kids, Asian kids, Native American kids. Are you kidding me? So hopefully we will start
seeing those changes. What and the conversations
are not that easy though, this is the thing we’re
coming to see. You know you have the question
of well who can write what? And I tell people you can write
whatever you want to write because you’re going
to do it anyway, but if you’re writing outside
of your own experience, don’t get mad if you
get criticized about it. We ask you to put in the
work and do it right. So many of us have been already
harmed by bad representation in books and the last thing I want, especially as a children’s book
author is for a kid to pick up my book and for them to
be harmed by what they see. So the discussions are messy. The discussions are hard,
but they’re necessary and hopefully we will
see changes and hopefully in five years there will be more
books about children of color than there are about
animals and trucks. [ Applause ]>>Marisa Bellack: I know
you’ve been speaking a lot to school groups since
the book came out. Can you talk about some of the
interesting things you’ve heard from students from
those conversations?>>Angie Thomas: Students
who are surprised that their teachers
let them read this book because of the cursing in it. You know, but the best conversations
are always when the kids, the students who tell me thank
you for this because I see myself or when I was in Philly
not too long ago and there’s this young
boy, black boy. Sagging pants comes up to me and
he’s like yo [phonetic] mine. I’m like er [phonetic]. He’s like yo [phonetic]. He’s I don’t like reading
[inaudible], but I read this in a day. This is dope and I’m like. So when I hear that, when I
have kids send me messages on Instagram saying I hated
reading until I read your book. That’s amazing to me and what I’m
seeing now is those teachers are contacting me saying my reluctant
readers are tearing this 400 something page book apart. That’s amazing. So I think what has shown
me if nothing else is if we give kids the books that
they want to see themselves in they’ll read [applause]. You know and I recently had to
tell my publisher HarperCollins, I said look you guys
failed me as a kid. You didn’t give me enough
books to see myself in. But and I said I’m
going to be honest with you I think the
reason is because you assume that black kids don’t
read and that’s a lie. Not to brag, but my book’s been
number one for a while now, black kids are reading it too so. Having those conversations
with students and with teachers shows me we
do need more diverse books. We need to get these books
into these kids’ hands because those same kids as you
think will not read will read if you give them something
that they are interested in.>>Marisa Bellack: So we’re here
today celebrating books of course.>>Angie Thomas: Yes.>>Marisa Bellack: But
can you tell us anything about the movie [laughter]?>>Angie Thomas: I’m
looking straight at my film agent, she’s here. The movie, filming begins
September 11th in Atlanta, Georgia. Everyone has been cast, not
everyone has been announced. I cannot tell you everything,
but I am excited about it. It’s funny because like right
before my signing I got a call from the director. His name is George Tillman. George Tillman is known for doing
the movie Soul Food, Barber Shop. He did Luke Cage and
he did This is Us. So brother’s got his
credentials you know. So he just called me a
little bit a while ago just to ask me some questions
about the character King. It’s small stuff, but in the
bigger picture it matters and what it shows me how dedicated
he is to getting this right. I’ve been involved along the way. I don’t cast movies. I have no say over casting and
there’s some things that are still out of my control, but
the script is amazing and it does the book justice. And what I tell people is movies for
books are lot like fraternal twins. No they’re not going to look
exactly the same, but they’re going to be similar and it gets to the
heart of it and it gets it right. So I think everybody’s
going to enjoy it. The entire team is dedicated to
it, they’re doing a great job and I can’t wait to visit set. [ Background Sounds ] [ Applause ]>>Marisa Bellack: So
let’s open for questions. Find your way to the mics
and we can alternate sides. [ Background Sounds ]>>Hello.>>Angie Thomas: Hi.>>I’m also from Jackson,
Mississippi.>>Angie Thomas: Hi.>>I found out about your book
from my 12 year old niece.>>Angie Thomas: Oh wow.>>And Mississippi has such a
great history of great authors from William Faulkner
to Richard Wright. I’m just wondering what the impact
of your book has been in Jackson, into Mississippi and
the reception of it. And when is it going to be required
for all school children to read?>>Angie Thomas: Thank you so much. It’s so funny like no matter where
I go there’s always one person from Mississippi, never fails. I was in Australia the other day and
there was this lady, she’s like I’m from Mississippi and
I was like really. So never fails, so thank you so
much for coming and for asking. The impact in Jackson
and then Mississippi, I was surprised recently to
find out that the governor and the lieutenant
governor even know who I am. They gave me a shout out at
the Mississippi Book Festival. I’ve been able to visit a
couple of schools back home and I haven’t been able to do
a lot because of my schedule, but it’s opened up
some conversations. And I’ve gone to both public schools
that are all black and I’ve gone to the private schools
that are all white. And both have told me that this
book is opening their kid’s eyes and stuff. And then you know it’s always funny
because the students are like, so is this based on my school
or is this based on that school because I think that
school you know. That’s always fun, but its and
recently over 750 9th graders, all the 9th graders in the Jackson
public school district were given free copies of the book. So that’s amazing and
there are efforts right now to make it a school district
wide read for the 8th through 12th graders, not
the younger kids of course, but yeah it’s been interesting. You know it’s gotten to the point
like sometimes I go to Kroger and somebody knows me, so I have to
be careful about how I go out now. But seeing the reaction
and when I have signings at the Mississippi Book Festival
and my line is both black and white, old and young. And I have people with the thick
southern draws telling me thank you for this book. I just, I understand why they
say black lives matter now. When you get that in Mississippi where our flag sucks,
that’s amazing. So it gives me hope for my state. [ Applause ]>>Hi.>>Angie Thomas: Hi.>>I’m a teacher, a new
teacher actually [multiple speakers] [inaudible].>>Angie Thomas: Awesome, thank
you for what you’re doing.>>Well thank you. I wanted to know what
recommendations you have for addressing the issues
you address in your book with young people in
an educational setting. Working with six year
olds, so maybe not just.>>Angie Thomas: Oh.>>Handing you, handing
them your book.>>Angie Thomas: Don’t.>>But any recommendations
generally for that.>>Angie Thomas: I think when you’re
talking about kids that young, the biggest thing to
instill in them right now is that empathy is more
powerful than sympathy. Get that in them now. Help them feel for others. You know my whole goal
with this book was that after someone reads it,
when they see Tamir Rice instead of just saying I’m
sorry that happened. I want them to look
at Tamir Rice and say that could’ve been my little
brother, I’m heartbroken by that. So that’s what I want with the book. So I say instill empathy in them
and then not just empathy for people who look like them,
go beyond themselves. So I think there may be some books,
I know there are books coming out that address it
for younger readers. I’m going to Tweet about it
if you follow me on Twitter, but yeah I think at the core
of it, just instilling empathy. That’ll go a long way,
I promise it will.>>Thank you.>>Angie Thomas: Thank you.>>Hi, I just.>>Angie Thomas: Hi.>>I just first wanted
to really thank you because of this book I understand
these issues so much more than I would have just
observing in my own community where it’s not really as prevalent. And I wanted to ask if there’s
that scene towards the end of the Hate You Give
with that really intense and exhilarating protest and I sped
through that in like 10 minutes. I could not put it down. Where exactly did you get
the inspiration for that? Was it personal?>>Angie Thomas: That, that was
definitely inspired not just by Ferguson, but protests around,
even the protests in Oakland and a lot of it was
also was inspired by the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. Actually it’s funny because that’s when Tupac started
talking about thug life. Back in 1992 Rodney King, the Rodney
King verdict had just happened and also there was a young lady
by the name of Latasha Harlin who was killed in a store when she
didn’t apparently pay for a bottle of juice and the store
owner killed her. And it led to a lot of
unrest in Los Angeles and that caused Los
Angeles a lot of money and Tupac was like that’s thug life. So I remember looking at
those riots, I was young, I’m not going to say how
young when that happened. But I remember watching footage
on that and just seeing how like Tupac said the
hate that was given into that little infant
Latasha screwed the entire city of Los Angeles and the
entire state of California. So those riots definitely inspired
it and the riots in Ferguson, then protests and all
of that inspired it. And I wanted to show honestly at
the end of the day why people are so angry that they’re willing to
burn down their own communities. It’s easy to look on the outside and
say oh they’re just being ignorant, they’re just no but look at the why. Why would I be angry enough to burn down the only grocery
store in my neighborhood? Why, why are people hurt? So at the end of the day,
yeah it was inspired by L.A. and it was inspired by Ferguson, but
really the inspiration was getting to the heart of the matter
and showing people the why.>>Thank you.>>Angie Thomas: Thank you.>>Hello I’m a teacher as well.>>Angie Thomas: Hi.>>And I teach high school and I
want to thank you for your book and I do plan on using
it in my classes.>>Angie Thomas: Thank you.>>And I’ve been recommending it
left and right to my students, but my question is you had talked
about code switching as far as mainly the language and
dress and that sort of thing. But one of the things in your book that I found particularly
interesting and there’s a lot I
found interesting, but this was one thing
was how her relationship with her friends on
in both communities. In the school community
however you had her choose to have a white boyfriend and she
had trouble really confiding in him about what happens, so can you
talk a little bit about that and the reactions of her friends
to what had happened to her?>>Angie Thomas: Yeah sure, sure. Its funny Chris is one
of those characters that gets brought up so much. Chris is probably the character
I get asked about the most on Instagram as far as who’s,
who’s playing Chris in the movie? Apparently there’s
a lot of Chris love. Starr and Chris, you
know I’ve also had people who say why didn’t you
put her with a black boy? You know first I’m going to tell
you all now I do give black love in my second book. For all the folks that are
mad at me about the white boy. But as a writer honestly I
look at sometimes for drama and I thought hm, this girl is going through this situation
that’s so racially charged. Why not give her a white
boyfriend and see how this goes? But with Chris I also wanted to show
with that character what it means to be an ally, a real ally. That word gets thrown around
a lot, especially nowadays. And I wanted to show
somebody he’s not perfect. He learns along the
way, but guess what. The most important thing
is he starts listening. That’s what I really
wanted him to do. I wanted him to listen to Starr and that’s what I think allies
should do, they should listen more. So with that character and that
couple, I wanted to explore that and then I wanted to
show these two kids at the end of the day they’re kids. They’re in love all. So how do they survive this? How do they let something
as heated as racial issues, how do they get over that? How do you do it? And then I wanted to
show two kids who come to realize colorblindness
is not where it’s at. We say that people think
colorblindness is good. There’s nothing wrong with looking
at me and seeing that I’m black. It’s what you do once you
see that and so [applause] with them I wanted to explore. Chris does have a couple of
times he’s like I don’t see you as black, I see you as Starr. She’s like, but I am black. So he comes to see its nothing
wrong with accepting her blackness, there’s nothing wrong
with her looking at him and seeing his whiteness. Like I said it’s what they
do once they see that. So with those two it was a
way to explore multiple things and honestly it also gave drama
if nothing else with Maverick. [ Laughter ]>>A lot of people seem to
be addressing themselves with their jobs, so
I’m a social worker.>>Angie Thomas: Oh
awesome, thank you.>>I’ve also been recommending
your book. I work with a lot of adolescent
boys and women as well. So my question is actually
about your character Hailey.>>Angie Thomas: Oh.>>Right, so I’m curious about
your own experiences with the.>>Angie Thomas: Ooh.>>[inaudible] in the
world and I’m also curious about if you’ve had a lot
of reactions especially from white people saying, but I
understand Hailey’s point of view. She didn’t, she wasn’t so terrible.>>Angie Thomas: I
haven’t gotten that, but I don’t think they’re
brave enough to tell me that. You know Hailey is definitely
inspired by people in my life and the funny thing is
they don’t realize it. You know I had a former friend
who’s like I read that book. Oh my God Hailey was so horrible. I hope nobody ever did
you like that, I’m like. [ Laugher ] Look in the mirror. You know it was for me it
was like the girl who when I, we had the Christmas party,
I’m giving all my business out. But we had a Christmas
party when I was in college and professor had this pile
of gag gifts under the tree. And we could pick whichever
one we wanted and I picked one, didn’t
know what it was. I opened it, it was prescription
drug book and a water gun. And she goes oh my God the black
girl from the hood got the gun and drug book ha ha ha ha. [ Background Sounds ] So that my way of addressing that
because I didn’t do what I wanted to do that day, it was through this
character [laughter], but honestly and I’m probably going
to make somebody mad and I honestly don’t care. Hailey is honestly a lot of
white feminists, intersexuals. Look I could have gone into a
whole discussion about that, but it’s that person who
only sees their issues. What about my issues
as a black woman? Are they not valid? So with Hailey I wanted to
address that and I wanted to show someone yeah, she’s a
feminist, nothing wrong with that. But can you still look at Starr
and see what she’s going through and fight for that just as much
as you fight for your issues? Can we have that? So with Hailey, Hailey was
definitely a way to get at a couple of different folks and they
still haven’t realized it. [ Laughter ]>>Hi.>>Angie Thomas: Hi.>>I probably, I mean I
can relate so I wonder if I’m asking the same question, but
how do you feel about the casting for the movie comparing to the book?>>Angie Thomas: I knew
this was going to come up. I’m going to just, we’re just,
I’m just going to address it. There’s been a lot of discussion about a specifically Amandla
Stenberg being cast to play Starr, when Amandla looks so different
from the girl on the cover. I want to explain this. First of all yes colorism is real. Hollywood does have colorism stuff. Here’s how this happened though. Amandla was cast almost
two years ago now and when Amandla was cast I
was still editing the book. I had not even written a
description for the character Starr because I write descriptions,
physical descriptions last. There was not even a cover for the
book, so there was nothing for them to look at and say oh well this
is how the character looks, this is what we need. At the time Amandla
had just come out with that video Don’t Cash Crop my
Cornrows and Amandla was so vocal about issues like this that
it felt like the perfect fit. And people would say well why
didn’t you describe Starr to look like Amandla or make them, I don’t
write characters based on actors or actresses because
something could have happened, Amandla could’ve dropped out. Then what? You know what I mean? So in the cover, the cover
is an artist interpretation. I have no say on the cover. I think the cover is
beautiful, but I’m also excited to see what Amandla
does with this role. They are dedicated to it. They’ve been dedicated since for two
years now when nobody knew anything about the Hate You Give, Amandla was out there pushing this book,
talking about this book. Amandla was out there
being vocal about this book and supporting this book. So I support them just as much
as they support me and I get it. I get it, I hear you, I
hear the conversations. Trust me I’ve been tagged in
enough stuff on Twitter, I hear it. I hear it, but and I’m not saying
the conversations aren’t valid. But in this case this
is how it came to be. Before Starr had a description,
before Starr had a cover, Amandla was cast because Amandla
was passionate about the same things that Starr is passionate
about at the end of the day. And but that passion I feel is going
to show on screen and I’m excited to see what they do with
the role, I absolutely am. So thank you, thank you for
being the person that ask. I knew somebody was going
to ask, so thank you.>>Marisa Bellack:
We probably have time for one more question, thank you.>>Hello my name is Hank and I’m.>>Angie Thomas: Hi.>>New to the U.S. I’ve been.>>Angie Thomas: Welcome.>>Thank you.>>Angie Thomas: I’m so sorry
about the mess we have right. [ Laughter ] [ Applause ]>>I’ve been living in Japan where
the black lives matter argument and discussion isn’t as prevalent. And I wanted to ask where people
like me are allowed to stand and if we’re allowed to be
on the outside looking in or the inside looking out?>>Angie Thomas: We need you
on the inside looking out. We need more people
to stand with us. I often say you know,
it’s often said I as a black person cannot
solve racism in America because I didn’t create it. It takes the, I’m not saying
you created it, no, no, no, no. Don’t get no, but it takes
true allies stand with us. You know you can stand with us on it
you know and that’s what it takes. It takes sometimes other
people saying something. It takes other people standing
alongside us sometimes. We need it. We need more voices helping us speak up because sometimes
people just look at us and say we’re just complaining
or we’re making this up. We need more people to
stand beside us and say no, this is actually happening. We’re not going to stand for it. So thank you for even wondering
where you stand and for even trying to figure out what you should do. So I say shouting along with us,
don’t shout at us [laughter].>>Thank you so much. [ Applause ]>>Marisa Bellack: Alright, thank
you everyone, thank you Angie. It’s been great.>>Angie Thomas: Thank you,
thank you so much [applause].>>This has been a presentation
of The Library of Congress. Visit us at

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