Angie Thomas’ debut novel follows 16-year-old Starr Carter, who
lives in a gang-ravaged neighborhood but goes to school at Williamson Prep,
where she’s only one of a handful of black kids. One day, she’s in the car with
her friend Khalil when he is shot and killed by a cop. The case becomes
national news, putting the dichotomy in Starr’s life into even greater relief.
Thomas tells NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro that, like Starr, she
grew up in two very different worlds. “I went to a mostly white, upper-class
private college … but I was from a neighborhood that is known for all of the
wrong reasons and, for lack of better words, we will call it the hood. So I
knew I had to fight against the stereotype of being a ghetto girl, and I had to
fight even harder to show that I was intelligent and that I was capable of
being there, just like my counterparts.”
I’ve seen it happen over and over again: a black person gets killed just for being black, and all hell breaks loose. I’ve tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr, and signed every petition out there. I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down. Now I am that person, and I’m too afraid to speak.