Code Switching to Fit In

T.H.U.G L.I.F.E, is an acronym created by a rapper named Tupac Shakur, who used it to get one of his most powerful messages to the general public, The Hate U Give Little Infants F**** Everybody. A lot of his music was motivational because the words he spoke touched people on a deeper level. Everything he rapped about always had a message behind it. It was his artistic way of communicating everyday life problems to the people, to open up their eyes in hopes of motivating them to step up and let their voices be heard. He is the inspiration behind the film The Hate U Give, written by Angie Thomas, who alongside director, George Tillman Jr. created a miraculous visual for us.T.H.U.G L.I.F.E, is an acronym created by a rapper named Tupac Shakur, who used it to get one of his most powerful messages to the general public, The Hate U Give Little Infants F**** Everybody. A lot of his music was motivational because the words he spoke touched people on a deeper level.

Everything he rapped about always had a message behind it. It was his artistic way of communicating everyday life problems to the people, to open up their eyes in hopes of motivating them to step up and let their voices be heard. He is the inspiration behind the film The Hate U Give, written by Angie Thomas, who alongside director, George Tillman Jr. created a miraculous visual for us. Starr witnessed the murder of her childhood best friend Khalil, at the hands of a jittery white police officer, who confused Khalil’s hair brush with a gun. She is now faced with the pressure of her friends and family to do what’s right, but for who? She knows that all she wants to do is speak up for Khalil and seek justice for what was done to him. Living in a primarily black town everyone expects Starr to be the face of Khalil’s justice. Since she was the only witness, only she can tell the story. I absolutely loved the delivery of this film with some minor directorial flaws. The Hate U Give was a way to get a message out to the public about things Blacks face in present day, things such as: racism, stereotypes, discrimination, and many other things that were said to have ceased when slavery ended, but is still very much alive today. It brings attention to the problems that are still keeping races separated. This film was a great way to wake people up, in hopes to guide them in a better direction, to allow them to see the bigger picture, and to understand what’s right and wrong.A point I felt was very powerful was the usage of the term, “code switching”.

According to Britannica.com, code switching “is a process of shifting from one linguistic code (a language or dialect) to another, depending on the social context or conversational setting. Sociolinguists, social psychologists, and identity researchers are interested in the ways in which code-switching, particularly by members of minority ethnic groups, is used to shape and maintain a sense of identity and a sense of belonging to a larger community.” In the film Starr faces code switching on a daily basis. She lives in a primarily Black, low-income community, Garden Heights, which is ridden with drugs and violent crimes. This is where she grew up, where her family and childhood friends lived, and where she isn’t judged for who she is and where she comes from. She attends Williamson Prep, a primarily White private school on the other side of town, where she loves getting a better education, but feels like she must portray a certain image, so that no one can judge her solely on the color of her skin. The way she must change her demeanor to match her surroundings is called “code switching”. At home she says she’s Starr one, the Starr who is comfortable in her own skin, who isn’t afraid of being herself, where she can wear what she wants, and talk how she pleases. At Williamson Prep she’s Starr 2.0, this Starr doesn’t speak “hood”, this Starr is well-mannered, and Starr 2.0 doesn’t give Williamson a reason to call her ghetto.

She doesn’t give them a reason to stereotype her as the loud, outspoken, troubled Black girl from Garden Heights. The white kids at Williamson Prep walk around listening to loud rap music and, use urban slang spoken amongst minorities, all things that Blacks and minorities are usually shunned upon for doing. Starr said “Slang makes them cool. Slang makes me “hood.” She held her tongue back often at Williamson because if she were to say something every time someone ticked her off, she’d be labeled the “angry black girl”. Every word she spoke was chosen carefully and pronounced correctly. She had to be very careful with her attitude and the actions she took, all for fear of being labeled ghetto. Starr was exhausted of being two different people. She wanted to be Starr, Starr for who she was. At Williamson she was dating a boy named Chris; with Chris she was herself, she spoke how she wanted, and did whatever she wanted because around him nothing else mattered. 

They shared a lot in common, the only catch, Chris was white. Although she was herself around Chris no one back at home knew about him. At home she turned the switch back to Starr one. That Starr wasn’t allowed to like white men, she wasn’t allowed to actually like white people because at home white people were the enemy. Code switching wasn’t the main focus of the movie, but it played a huge role in getting its message across. A lot of us don’t realize we code switch often to fit in. Whether it be to fit in to another race or fit in with the “cool kids” at school, we code switch unknowingly. In Starr’s case she did it every day to sort of hide her true identity, so that no one was able to judge her by where she came from or who she grew up with. She wanted people to see her for who she was and not by her background.

She wanted to show how growing up in the “hood” doesn’t define you as a person. She code switched often to mute those stereotypes, to show that she too was capable of speaking properly and was well-mannered and being from Garden Heights didn’t take anything away from her intelligence as a human being. Code switching is something minorities were taught as youngsters, they’re taught to adapt to their surroundings, and know when and where to do things. The Hate U Give is derived from T.H.U.G L.I.F.E. When you break its true meaning down its, “The Hate U Give Little Infants F**** Everybody”. Tupac said, “What is fed to us as seeds, grows, and blows up in our faces…” Young children internalize the hate given to them by society. Children soak up everything they are taught, good or bad. Our decisions around young children influence they’re actions, we must do better by them, and teach them better to ensure they get the most out of life.