The Hate U Give

Khalil’s Hairbrush Symbol Analysis

Khalil’s Hairbrush Symbol Icon

The hairbrush represents both the blinding power and senselessness of racism. One-Fifteen alleges that he shot Khalil because he mistook his hairbrush for a gun. Maverick says One-Fifteen made this assumption not simply because the hairbrush handle was “black enough” to have looked like a gun, but because Khalil himself was “black enough” to have been carrying one; racist assumptions about the criminality of black youth contributed to One-Fifteen seeing a weapon where there was none. The public latches on to this fact, leading to the chant of “a hairbrush is not a gun” in the riots following the indictment verdict. The fact that an object meant for grooming contributes to Khalil’s death further suggests that black individuals can do everything to adhere to societal expectations of propriety and still be targeted simply because of the color of their skin.

Khalil’s Hairbrush Quotes in The Hate U Give

The The Hate U Give quotes below all refer to the symbol of Khalil’s Hairbrush. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism and Police Brutality  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Collins edition of The Hate U Give published in 2017.
Chapter 12 Quotes

“That's the so-called gun,” Ms. Ofrah explains. “Officer Cruise claims he saw it in the car door, and he assumed Khalil was reaching for it. The handle was thick enough, black enough, for him to assume it was a gun.”

“And Khalil was black enough,” Daddy adds.

A hairbrush. Khalil died over a fucking hairbrush.

Related Characters: Starr Carter (speaker), Maverick Carter (speaker), April Ofrah (speaker), Khalil Harris, One-Fifteen / Officer Brian Cruise
Related Symbols: Khalil’s Hairbrush
Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 14 Quotes

“I knew that boy. Watched him grow up with you. He was more than any bad decision he made,” he says. “I hate that I let myself fall into that mind-set of trying to rationalize his death. And at the end of the day, you don’t kill someone for opening a car door. If you do, you shouldn't be a cop.”

Related Symbols: Khalil’s Hairbrush
Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:
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Khalil’s Hairbrush Symbol Timeline in The Hate U Give

The timeline below shows where the symbol Khalil’s Hairbrush appears in The Hate U Give. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Racism and Police Brutality  Theme Icon
Community and Loyalty Theme Icon
The Cycle of Poverty and Crime Theme Icon
Khalil reaches for his hairbrush and combs his hair while noting that a fight between rival gangs—the King Lords and... (full context)
Chapter 3
Racism and Police Brutality  Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
The Cycle of Poverty and Crime Theme Icon
...rummage through his car and she doesn’t want them to touch his things, including his hairbrush. When an officer finally puts a sheet over Khalil, Starr worries he “can’t breathe” under... (full context)
Chapter 12
Racism and Police Brutality  Theme Icon
Dueling Identities and Double Consciousness  Theme Icon
The Cycle of Poverty and Crime Theme Icon
...Ofrah reveals that the “gun” the media has been mentioning was nothing more than Khalil’s hairbrush. In the darkness, the handle looked thick enough—and, Maverick adds, Khalil was black enough—that One-Fifteen... (full context)
Chapter 24
Racism and Police Brutality  Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
...that they have reached the street where Khalil was shot. People there are chanting “a hairbrush is not a gun.” This is Starr’s first time at the street since the shooting,... (full context)