Daddy once told me there’s a rage passed down to every black man from his ancestors, born the moment they couldn’t stop the slave masters from hurting their families. Daddy also said there’s nothing more dangerous than when that rage is activated.

Starr says this in Chapter Eleven after she witnesses two police officers attack Maverick. Starr links racism in contemporary law enforcement with the historical enslavement of black people to show that black families carry generational trauma and that current anger has been building for centuries. This connection draws a comparison between the police and slave masters because slave masters functioned as legal authorities over their slaves and justified their abuse as maintaining order, just as the officers justify their search of Maverick as maintaining order in the neighborhood. The last part of the quotation is ambiguous because Starr does not specify who the rage is dangerous toward. Instead of fighting back against the police, Maverick screams and cries afterward, so we can assume that the danger is actually toward black men. If Maverick had spoken out or lashed out, he could have been shot. With this ambiguity, Thomas shows that black men have no outlet for their justified anger over feeling powerless to protect their families because expressing this anger can lead to their deaths.