The Macksey Journal


Respectability Politics are a set of codes that were created by many late 19th and early 20th century black thinkers and philosophers such as W.E.B. Dubois and Nannie Helen Burroughs. This idea garnered support from prominent members of the black community in the hopes of proving black humanity to a racist majority American culture. Author Angie Thomas critiques Respectability Politics and police brutality in her 2017 young adult novel The Hate U Give. Though Starr Carter, the novel’s protagonist, experiences police brutality firsthand, the novel is about how she navigates between her school Williamson Prep and her home neighborhood of Garden Heights. The central conflict is she finds herself altering her behavior in each space. This leads to her experiencing an identity crisis, causing her to question the power of Respectability Politics to keep her safe. Starr Carter performs Respectability Politics, which damages her ability to be herself in both black and white spaces, makes evident the illusion of the Other’s security.