“Always some shit,” he mumbles. “Can’t have a party without somebody getting shot.” He sounds like my parents.
Khalil’s world-weary tone after violence breaks out at Big D’s party hints that he’s dealing with issues far beyond what a teenager should deal with. Starr says that he sounds like her parents, that is, Khalil sounds like an adult. Earlier Starr observes that Khalil wears expensive new shoes and earrings, and she worries that he may be dealing drugs, and the knowing tone of this comment appears to confirm that at the very least he’s dealing with adult issues and problems.
I wrote, “The Khalil I know loved bubble baths almost as much as he loved his grandma.”
Starr uses old photos of Khalil to create a Tumblr blog about him and showcase the aspects of him not covered by the media. Here she chooses an adorable childhood photo of Khalil with his grandmother, something tender and undeniably innocent. By sharing an aspect of Khalil that runs so counter to the drug dealer narrative, Starr hopes to remind people that he wasn’t just a drug dealer, but a person with a life and family.
That was classic Khalil. No matter what his momma did, he was still her knight and he was still gonna protect her.
Starr has this thought after DeVante explains that Khalil sold drugs to pay back his mother’s debt to King. While the possibility of Khalil being a King Lord and selling drugs makes Starr doubt how well she really knew Khalil, this revelation confirms that Khalil had still been the boy she’d known since childhood. It also highlights the lack of stability in Khalil’s life. Instead of having a mother who protected him, his mother required his protection, which was not a safe or healthy dynamic.
For some people, the thugshot makes him look just like that—a thug. But I see somebody who was happy to finally have some money in his hand, damn where it came from.
Here Starr demonstrates that it’s possible to see a full human even in the photo of Khalil where he looks the most like a stereotypical criminal. Starr describes the full context that made this image of Khalil, the poverty and desperation that shaped his circumstances and led him toward drug dealing. By humanizing Khalil as he’s portrayed in an image designed to dehumanize him, Starr demonstrates that Khalil has always been more than just his worst choices.