Starr and Kenya get lunch at Mr. Reuben’s barbeque restaurant. Mr. Reuben often gives students free food. King drives up and offers Kenya and Starr money, calling Starr his goddaughter. Starr refuses money from him on principle. Maverick arrives. King asks Maverick to hold a package of drugs for him, but Maverick refuses. He reminds King that after going to jail in King’s stead, Maverick owes him nothing. Maverick warns King not to hurt Seven. King tells Maverick not to cross him.
Summary: Chapter 4
Starr jolts awake from a nightmare about Khalil and Natasha. She creeps to the kitchen. Lisa and Maverick argue with Starr’s uncle Carlos. Uncle Carlos, a police officer, wants Starr to testify to the police about the shooting. Lisa worries that Starr needs to recover from her trauma. Maverick worries the police want to justify Khalil’s death. Uncle Carlos insists the shooting wasn’t about race because Khalil was a drug dealer who threatened One-Fifteen. He asks Lisa why they still live in Garden Heights and why Starr was in the car with a drug dealer. Maverick doesn’t want to leave Garden Heights, but Lisa remarks that Starr has lost two friends to shootings. Uncle Carlos asks if Lisa and Maverick will let Starr testify. Lisa explains that they don’t want anyone to know Starr witnessed the shooting. Uncle Carlos swears to protect her. Maverick grumbles that he’s not sure he can trust Uncle Carlos.
Starr steps on a creaky floorboard, and Lisa alerts the men to Starr’s presence. Uncle Carlos asks if Starr will talk to the police and promises she won’t have to see One-Fifteen. Starr agrees.
Starr asks Maverick why he and Uncle Carlos always fight. Maverick explains that Uncle Carlos used to think Maverick was a bad influence. Starr and her family lived with Uncle Carlos while Maverick was in prison, so Uncle Carlos is like a second father to Starr. Maverick tells Starr she was born soon after his cousin died during a drug deal. Starr was a light during a dark time, so he named her Starr. Starr asks Maverick if he believes the police want justice. Maverick says that they will see.
Starr accompanies her parents to Ms. Rosalie’s house, which is full of memories. Ms. Rosalie tells Starr that Khalil never had another friend like Starr. Ms. Rosalie explains that Khalil wanted to talk to Maverick because he had been selling drugs. The confirmation that Khalil had been dealing hits Starr hard. Furious that Khalil sold the same drugs that addicted his mother, Starr worries that Khalil’s dealing will overshadow every report of his death now that he’s a “hashtag.” Nevertheless, when Ms. Rosalie tells Starr she is glad Starr was with Khalil at the end, Starr decides that no matter what the world thinks of him, Khalil was loved. Maverick gives Ms. Rosalie money to help with the funeral and cancer treatment.
Analysis: Chapters 3-4
Maverick’s Black Power philosophy influences Starr’s home life and introduces the reader to the values expected of her. Maverick’s values dominate his spaces, from the photos of his intellectual idols in his house and grocery store, to his tattoos that proclaim Starr, Seven, and Sekani to be his priority. Not only is Maverick loud about his beliefs, but he is unapologetic, not reacting to Nana or Mr. Lewis’s criticism of his photos. In light of Maverick’s example, Starr’s disappointment over feeling unable to speak up for Khalil reveals Starr’s fear that she’s failed to live up to Maverick’s Black Power philosophy. Starr’s shame at showing fragility stands in stark contrast to both her father’s unflinching confidence and the photo of Malcolm X with the gun. Starr thinks that weakness is contrary to the values of Black Power, and she views her reasonable fears as emblematic of that weakness.