We once talked about how cool it was that Will remained himself in his new world. I slipped up and said I wish I could be like that at school. Chris said, “Why can’t you, Fresh Princess?”
Chris’s love of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air demonstrates a willingness to engage with Black culture. In addition, Chris’s encouragement to Starr to embrace her whole self like Will from the show suggests that he is open-minded and curious about Starr’s Blackness and Garden Heights roots. However, because The Fresh Prince is a popular show, his interest can also read as shallow. This ambiguity about how much Chris truly means Starr can be herself drives the conflict in their relationship.
There’s this whole part of your life that you’ve kept from me, Starr. We’ve been together over a year now, and you’ve never mentioned Khalil . . . or this other person you saw die. You didn’t trust me enough to tell me.
After Starr confronts him at prom for giving her the cold shoulder, Chris expresses his hurt at Starr not letting him into the difficult parts of her life. Chris has continually promised Starr that he’s willing to accept all sides of her, but Starr hasn’t been ready or willing to give him that trust. Chris’s plea here marks a turning point in their relationship because it makes it clear to Starr that their relationship can’t continue if she’s not willing to see if she can really trust Chris.
“I’m staying.” Chris nods, as if he’s settling with himself. “Yeah, I’m staying.”
Here, Chris decides to stay with Starr, Seven, and DeVante as they participate in the protests after the grand jury decision. Throughout the novel, Starr has been afraid that Chris would treat her differently if he knew about the grief and trauma she’d experienced or the poverty she came from in a more concrete way. By deciding to stay despite the discomfort that would come from being a rich white boy in a poor Black neighborhood during a period of unrest, Chris signals that he’s willing to stand by Starr even through the difficult parts of her life.
I’m letting my girl know I’m happy to go with her anywhere, no matter what neighborhood it’s in. As long as she’s there, I’m good.
Chris says this quote in response to DeVante and Seven teasing him about offering to take Starr to Taco Bell because Maverick used to take her whenever he had the money to do so. This statement expresses Chris’s total acceptance of Starr. Instead of judging Starr for having feelings of nostalgia for a fast-food restaurant, Chris reveals that he understands how circumstances have made Taco Bell special. Instead of balking from Starr’s impoverished past, Chris accepts it as part of her history and even acknowledges the parts of it that meant a lot to her.