Making Young Voices Matter – Angie Thomas In Conversation at the Southbank Centre, London

Best-selling author, Angie Thomas. Copyright.

When Angie Thomas published her debut novel, ‘The Hate You Give’ it literally rocked the literature world. Inspired by her experience of viewing a real live shoot out in her home town of Jackson, Mississippi when she was just six and the divisions created by the gun violence and police brutality aimed at African Americans in present day America. The Hate U Give is a pertinent reminder that race is still the biggest concern which America refuses to confront.

Seen through the eyes of its teenage protagonist, ‘Star’ who straddles both worlds of White and Black America by attending a posh school in the white area while living in the poor black neighbourhood. Both worlds clash when ‘Star’ comes up against an incident involving the police shooting of her unarmed boyfriend and the dilemma she faces in searching for justice.

Written for the teen market, (I admit I had to look up several references in the urban dictionary) Angie Thomas’ first book sheds light on the precarious world that African Americans, in particular young males navigate in going about their daily business. Indeed, in writing this book, Ms Thomas has mentioned in interviews that she wanted to use her voice to educate on the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign.

‘The Hate U Give’ reached No 1 spot on several bestseller lists including the ‘New York Times’, ‘Amazon’ and ‘Time Magazine’. In my humble opinion it should be on everyone’s reading list teen or otherwise. It has now been made into a movie starring Amandla Stenberg by Fox 2000.

With great anticipation, Ms Thomas is bringing out her second novel, ‘On The Come Up’. She will be in conversation about her new novel which pays homage to the inspiration of Hip Hop, with the award winning writer and editor, Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuf, at the Southbank Centre on Tuesday 12th March 2019.

It’s a chance for enthusiasts to ‘ask everything you ever wanted to know’ about Ms Thomas and direct the questions to the author herself. It promises to be a stimulating evening with discussions raising comparisons on the situation here as youth crime and violence implode in our inner cities. Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff is herself a journalist and editor of the book ‘Mother Country: Real Stories of the Windrush Children‘. With her insight of racial tensions, no doubt at some point the question has to be raised : Do young Black lives and voices continue to matter?

Angie Thomas will be in Conversation at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London on Tuesday 12th March 2019.

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