Summary of Chapters 10 - 12
Starr, Lisa, and Sekani spend the night at Carlos’s house, because riots begin again at sundown in Garden Heights. On their way back the next morning, a police roadblock slows traffic, and Starr has to close her eyes to stop herself from panicking when the police ask her mother for ID and proof of insurance. Back at home, Starr’s father has to go the warehouse for the store. He takes Starr along with him, promising to buy her ice cream, and the two talk about Tupac’s philosophy on Thug Life. Starr’s father explains that an oppressive system keeps minorities stuck in poverty and forces them to sell drugs to stay afloat. They come to the conclusion that Starr can’t stay silent in the face of the Khalil’s murder.
Maverick and Starr head to the store. While Starr works affixing stickers to snack bags, there’s a knock at the door, and DeVante enters. He looks nervous and wanders around the store, refusing to leave even after Maverick gives him an ultimatum. They question him and find out that he’s hiding from King. DeVante asks Maverick how he was able to get out of the King Lords. Maverick explains that his father, Adonis Carter, was one of the city’s biggest drug dealers. Maverick grew up wealthy, but his father went to prison when he was eight, and Maverick became a King Lord at twelve. After he became a father, Maverick wanted to leave the game, but he was making money and couldn’t figure out how to get out. Finally, when he and King were busted by the police, he took the charge and went to prison for three years. King let him leave the King Lords after this, because of the debt he owed him. At the end of his story, Maverick agrees to help DeVante leave the King Lords, and offers him a job at the store. He also agrees for DeVante to move in with the family; later that night, Starr hears her parents arguing about this decision and whether or not the family should move out of Garden Heights.
At school on Monday morning, Starr immediately notices that the halls are quieter than usual. She finds out from her friends that Hailey’s older brother Remy is organizing a protest about Khalil—not because of solidarity for his death, but because they want to get out of class. Starr angrily lashes out at her friends for exploiting Khalil’s death. She refuses to take part in the protest; a few other students, including Chris and her friend Jess, sit out as well.
Seven picks Sekani and Starr up after school, and the three head to the store. There’s a TV crew on the street, filming Mr. Lewis, who owns a shop near the grocery store. Mr. Lewis tells the cameraman that he saw King Lords jump police officers nearby. He even mentions King by name. After the interview, Maverick warns Mr. Lewis that his life will be in serious danger after the King Lords see the broadcast. Mr. Lewis insists that he’s not afraid after fighting a war and getting stabbed by white segregationists.
Suddenly, a police car stops near Mr. Lewis and Maverick, and an officer asks the two men if there’s a problem. They insist that they’re just talking, but the officer becomes violent, forcing Maverick to get on the ground with his hands behind his back. The officer keeps his knee on Maverick’s back as he pats him down three times, then finally lets him get up. Before leaving, he calls Maverick “boy” and warns him that he’s keeping an eye on him.
Back in the store, Maverick pounds the desk with rage. Mr. Reuben’s nephew, Tim, makes the situation worse by revealing that some neighborhood people saw Maverick, Lisa, and Starr leave the crime scene on the night of Khalil’s death, so they suspect that Starr is the witness whose testimony failed to get the officer arrested. Kenya, who is in the store to buy groceries for her family, overhears Tim. She accuses Starr of being a coward for not publicly defending Khalil. Starr tells Maverick, and he promises that he will back her up if and when she decides to speak out.
Back at home, Maverick is weeding when Starr sees a tank roll down the street. A uniformed officer holds a rifle on top of the tank, warning the neighborhood that anyone violating the 10 p.m. curfew will be arrested. Starr and Maverick head inside; Lisa has bought pizza for dinner. Starr eats pizza while working on her new Tumblr, an anonymous blog called “The Khalil I Know” where she posts childhood pictures of Khalil along with facts about him that present a fuller picture of his personality.
Starr’s mother lets her take the next day off of school. The defense attorney wants to speak to Starr, so her parents take her to Ms. Ofrah of Just Us for Justice. Ofrah explains that the case will be taken to a grand jury, and that the gun the officer thought Khalil had was actually a hairbrush. She offers to represent Starr pro bono in the upcoming case. Starr accepts, and agrees to a television interview, with Maverick’s stipulation that her identity be protected. Before the conversation can continue, Maverick gets a call from DeVante; something has happened at the store, and he needs help.
Analysis of Chapters 10 - 12
Tupac Shakur was an American actor and rapper whose rap lyrics frequently centered around the hardship of inner-city life, racism, and social oppression. The acronym Shakur created for “Thug Life”—The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody—is an important motif in the novel that also provides the title of the book. Starr and Maverick’s discussion of the meaning of "Thug Life" offers insight into their respective philosophies about what the acronym might refer to.
Khalil said that "Thug Life" refers to how the hate that society feeds its youth comes back to bite them later; Starr generalizes this to the hate that black people, minorities, poor people, and the oppressed are forced to deal with. Maverick extends Starr’s point further, explaining that so many people in Garden Heights are drug dealers because they have a lack of educational and career opportunities. The conversation is important because it further opens Starr’s eyes to the injustice all around her and makes her more determined to speak up for Khalil.
Maverick’s explanation of the cyclical gang violence in Garden Heights is further reinforced by DeVante’s experience. He joined the King Lords to provide for himself and his brother, but the violence he experienced makes him want to get out of the game. He turns to Maverick for advice, but Maverick explains how difficult it is for a person to extricate themselves from the intensely loyal groups; Maverick himself had to go to prison in order to be able to safely leave the King Lords. DeVante’s experience makes it evident that in order to leave a gang, it’s important to have an external support system ( such as the one that Maverick, Lisa, and Carlos are able to provide him with).
The theme of police mistreatment of minorities is further explored in these chapters. Even though Maverick and Mr. Lewis are simply having a verbal disagreement, the police officer who sees them talking responds with an incredibly disproportionate display of violence—especially after he determines that Maverick is Starr’s father. The way he forces Maverick to the ground and pats him down three times illustrates the inherent distrust that he has of Maverick because of his appearance—especially his skin color. It’s this distrust that leads to extreme mistreatment such as Khalil’s shooting.
Finally, Starr’s blog offers an important perspective on Khalil after he has been dismissed as a drug dealer and thug by the general public. Her tender snapshots of Khalil’s life demonstrate the importance of not limiting people to stereotypes, or subconsciously assuming that their lives are worth less than others because of the background they come from. It’s also a first step in the direction of speaking up, demonstrating Starr’s bravery and determination to do something even though she is deeply afraid of the consequences of doing so. Starr uses the public, technological platform of Tumblr to transmit a better and more complete image of Khalil to a broad audience.