WP2: An Open Letter to Angie Thomas
Dear Angie Thomas,
I’ve met you twice, and I cried both times. I will admit, I cry easily, but the impact you’ve had on my life is certainly worthy of a few tears. When I was in 8th grade, I read your debut novel, The Hate U Give. It was that book that made me decide the kind of person I wanted to be. Intense, outspoken, and brave like Starr; influential and passionate like you. You were the center of so many English class discussions, your book the weapon I used against bigots in my Texas town. I’ve recommended your book constantly over the past 5 years at the end of fiery debates and book talks alike.
It is disappointing, though not surprising, that your books have faced so much censorship. I think people are scared: scared to accept that their world isn’t perfect and scared to admit that they might be part of the problem. America has an issue with trying to erase our own history while simultaneously ignoring the present. Books like yours challenge this norm, which is what makes them so important. As a white girl from a conservative suburb in Texas, I could’ve very well been blind to the world around me. But through reading, I was able to gain a broader perspective and deeper understanding that have led me to pursue a degree in political science and sociology today. Learning about the world starts with books like The Hate U Give and blossoms into an appreciation for the works of Angela Davis and bell hooks, other powerful Black feminist authors like you. I do believe The Hate U Give is crucial reading for young adults, and I believe that attempts to ban your words and ideas will always fail, just like no one could silence Starr’s voice once she chose to speak up.
The first time I met you on your book tour for On the Come Up, I freaked out. My mom and I had staked out at the doors for good seats and landed front and center. We sat and held our books while we listened to you answer questions until finally it was time to get our books signed. As we waited in line, hardly able to contain our excitement, I planned out exactly what I was going to say as you signed my book. When I reached the front of the line and handed you my book, I was so excited to tell you how you had changed my life; but when I opened my mouth, I spoke through tears. My words may have been unintelligible but I believe the meaning was clear: your writing has changed me. I think that is all we can hope for really, is changing even just one person for the better. I’m extremely grateful that you could be my person.
Lots of love,
P.S. The second time I met you it was very brief, but I cried anyway. Thank you for pretending you recognized me.