The Hate U Give | Study Guide

Angie Thomas

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The Hate U Give | Symbols


Khalil's Hairbrush

Khalil's hairbrush is a lot like Khalil himself—it looks dangerous to a cop who racially profiles, but it is not. Thus, Khalil's hairbrush represents racist assumptions white people make about African American people. Activist Ms. Ofrah tells Starr and her parents that One-Fifteen mistook Khalil's hairbrush for a gun because "the handle was thick enough, black enough, for him to assume it was a gun." Maverick points out that Khalil "was black enough" too, suggesting that One-Fifteen only "saw" a gun because he expected one to be there. Like other white cops who patrol white neighborhoods, One-Fifteen makes the racist assumption that an African American teen who does not immediately comply with his instructions must be a criminal.


One-fifteen, the badge number of the cop who murders Khalil, is a symbol of unfettered police brutality against African Americans. Starr's referring to the officer as "One-Fifteen," rather than by his real name, is important in two main ways. First, Starr says she knows to get the badge number of any cop she interacts with because she was given "the talk" about police at an early age. Because African Americans are much more likely to be harassed by police because of racial profiling, they are taught to always cooperate and never make any sudden movements in order to stay safe. In this sense, One-Fifteen becomes a symbol for the larger issue of institutional racism because white parents never have to give their white children this safety talk. Second, by not referring to One-Fifteen by his given name, Starr is refusing to humanize or sympathize with him. She puts the focus squarely where it should be: on his victim, Khalil Harris.

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