Poets will introduce a film that ‘cries out for conversation’

“If one person truly gets it and changes, it will be well worth it.”

A free screening of the acclaimed 2018 film, “The Hate U Give,” will take place at Vashon High School Theater and will be presented alongside contextual talks and poetry readings by three leading lights of Seattle’s African American literary scene.

A 5:30 p.m. meet-and-greet in the high school’s “great hall” outside the theater will kick off the evening.

Speakers will include Jacqueline Ware, Nakeya Isabell and CJ Dudley, all accomplished members of Seattle’s African American Writer’s Alliance. Aims of the Alliance — which has been in existence for more than 25 years — include heightening awareness of social injustice through workshops, engagement in public dialogue and providing enlightenment through poetry and prose.

According to Ware, the three presenting poets and authors have worked together to ensure that the poetry and panel discussion is honest, open, non-judgmental and impactful.

“If one person truly gets it and changes, it will be well worth it,” she said. “The whole goal is for people to set aside any fears, drop defenses, and open their hearts and mind in the presence of people of color.”

Based on the best-selling young adult novel, “The Hate U Give” tells the story of Starr Carter, who lives in two worlds: The poor, black neighborhood where she resides and the mostly white prep school she attends. This uneasy balance is shattered when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend by a policeman. Facing pressures from all sides, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.

Ware, Isbell and Dudley will introduce the film with poetry and a call for empathy from the audience, asking viewers to imagine that the family in the film was theirs. The writers will also lead a community conversation following the presentation of the film.

The evening of film, poetry and community is being presented under the banner title, “Cries Out for Conversation.” The title was coined by Ware, who told the organizers of the evening that “this movie cries out for conversation,” adding the “poetry and prose will help open the door and offer a safe avenue for the audience to talk about blue-on-black and black-on-black violence.”

Organizers include the Vashon-Maury Showing Up for Racial Justice, Parents & Friends for Racial Equity on Vashon, and Vashon Island School District’s Racial Equity Committee. The film’s screening comes courtesy of Vashon’s Backbone Campaign.

Admission to the event is free, with donations accepted.

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