Summary of Chapters 13 - 15
Mr. Lewis has been beaten up by a group of King Lords. At first, Maverick thinks that the King Lords were angry about Mr. Lewis’s TV interview; but Mr. Lewis tells him that the gang was looking for DeVante, since he stole $5,000 from King. Maverick decides to take DeVante to the safety of Carlos’s house, and the family drives over. Starr is upset to find out that Carlos was put on leave from the police force; she blames herself. Carlos agrees to let DeVante stay with him and help him through online school, although Starr’s grandmother disapproves.
As Carlos begins to tell DeVante about the rules of living in his house, Chris rings the doorbell. He saw the family’s car and wanted to check on Starr because she missed school that day. Starr tells Maverick that Chris is her boyfriend, and he reacts angrily because Chris is white—and because, apparently, Carlos already knew. DeVante also makes a disparaging remark to Starr because he thinks Chris is trying to act black. Chris and Starr sit at the counter talking; they start kissing, and Lisa walks in, embarrassing them. Starr asks her mother about the fight she had with Maverick over moving out of Garden Heights.
DeVante and Starr sit at the kitchen table eating graham crackers and talking about Khalil. DeVante tells Starr that Khalil wasn’t a King Lord—he turned King down, so King put a gray bandana on his body in an attempt to save face—and that the reason Khalil sold drugs was to repay his mother’s debt after she stole money from King. DeVante explains that he and his brother joined the King Lords for the financial support and the chance to be cared for.
Starr leaves Carlos’s and walks to Maya’s house. She finds Hailey and Maya playing a video game in Maya’s bedroom, and although she joins them, awkwardness hangs over the room. Hailey acknowledges the tension, and Starr admits that she’s angry at Maya and Hailey for taking part in the disingenuous protest. Maya apologizes, but Hailey refuses, and insists that Starr apologize for accusing her of being racist.
The three turn back to the TV. An interview with the father of Brian Cruise, Jr.—the officer who shot Khalil—is playing on a news station. Cruise’s father insists that Khalil was speeding and threatened his son. He also says that Cruise was physically attacked by a fellow officer, which Starr realizes must be Carlos. After the interview, Hailey says that she feels bad for Cruise’s family, since his life matters too. Starr angrily replies that his life always matters more. Starr asks Hailey why she unfollowed her Tumblr; Hailey responds that it’s because she doesn’t know who Starr is anymore, and storms out.
Maya tells Starr that Hailey was lying—she unfollowed Starr’s Tumblr because she didn’t want to see pictures relating to black power. Maya, who is Chinese, also reveals that Hailey once asked her if her family ate a cat for Thanksgiving; Maya had laughed because she felt uncomfortable, and Starr had laughed too. Starr and Maya agree not to let Hailey get away with making more racist comments.
After hanging out with Maya, Starr walks back to Carlos’s. She’s surprised to find him drinking a beer; he doesn’t drink because his and Lisa’s mother is an alcoholic and was abusive to her kids. Carlos admits that he punched Officer Cruise because he was angry that Cruise had pointed his gun at Starr. He also tells Starr that he was sure that he wouldn’t have killed Khalil had he been in Cruise’s position.
On the morning of the day Starr has to talk to the DA, Lisa takes her to IHOP for breakfast. Lisa notices that Starr isn’t eating and asks her what’s wrong, and Starr tells her about her fight with Hailey. They head back to Garden Heights so Starr can change into nicer clothes. At the house, they find that Maverick has burnt breakfast; he and Lisa bicker.
Maverick and Lisa take Starr to the office of Karen Monroe, the DA. Starr answers her questions about the events surrounding Khalil’s death, but when it’s time to recount the actual shooting, she gets sick and begins vomiting. As her parents help her back to the car, Starr resents that she can feel others pitying her.
Maverick takes Starr to the store for the rest of the day. He admits that he was upset Starr was dating a white boy because he thought it meant that he hadn’t set a good example of a black man, but Starr reassures him that he has set a good example of a man regardless of race. Suddenly, a gray BMW pulls up, and King approaches Maverick to ask where DeVante is. Maverick insists that he doesn’t know, and King threatens him that Starr better not implicate the King Lords from her platform as the witness of Khalil’s death.
Maverick is shaken afterward, and he closes the store early. He and Starr pick up dinner from Reuben’s on the way home. At dinner, Lisa reveals some good news: she has an interview for the Pediatrics Nursing Manager position at Markham Memorial Hospital—a high-paying position. Maverick agrees to move out of Garden Heights. However, Seven insists that he won’t go to a college away from home because he wants to protect his sisters, who are frequently subjected to King’s abuse.
Analysis of Chapters 13 - 15
Maverick’s reaction to Chris represents a racialized attitude toward romantic relationships. It’s reflective of a cultural norm that dictates same-race relationships for many different races. As a protective father figure, Maverick is naturally wary of any boy that Starr chooses to date, and the fact that Chris is white further complicates this protectiveness. Maverick’s attitude toward famous women of color who date white men already made Starr nervous about telling her father about her relationship.
The interview with Officer Cruise’s father is understandably frustrating for Starr to watch. It’s a defensive interview that is full of untruths. While Cruise is trying to protect his son from the court of public opinion, Starr’s knowledge of the events as they actually occurred contrasts sharply with the narrative that Cruise reports. Even more difficult for Starr to hear is Hailey’s reaction, which typifies the reaction of a white perspective on police violence.
Both before and after commenting on the interview, Hailey continues to exhibit a casual racism towards both Starr and Maya. Her attitude is entirely unapologetic; she refuses even to engage in conversation with her friends about why her comments might be offensive to them. This closed-mindedness reflects a larger difficulty of having a productive conversation about race in America.
Because feelings of shame and defensiveness are tied up with white privilege, Hailey doesn’t want to acknowledge that her viewpoints are upsetting to her non-white friends. Furthermore, Hailey seems to firmly believe that she is not being racist. Despite her good intentions, she makes offensive remarks—and then refuses to listen to Starr and Maya’s side of the story.
Starr and her family also struggle with the decision of whether or not to move out of Garden Heights. There are several components to the decision: the need to stay safe, the ability to afford a larger house, the desire to help others in Garden Heights, and the pull of a place that has always been home. The decision of whether or not to stay is a significant source of tension between Maverick and Lisa. Both want to provide community and assistance to their neighbors, and to avoid being seen as sell-outs; however, Lisa is determined to move because she wants her children to be in a safer environment.