In response to Starr’s pain over the fried chicken joke, Hailey actively weaponizes her whiteness against Starr to avoid taking responsibility for the hurt she causes. Starr fears becoming the “angry black girl,” leading Starr to downplay her feelings because she understands her emotions can be used to turn her into a stereotype. Starr’s fears come to pass in this scene when Hailey suggests that Starr’s emotions have clouded her judgement. Hailey even uses their shared grief over losing loved ones against Starr. When Hailey mentions how upset she gets during the anniversary of her mother’s death, she sets herself up as the mature person in their friendship who does not lash out at her friends even when grief surfaces. Hailey uses the fact that Starr is emotional over something as a means of dismissing Starr’s ability to identify when something is hurtful. Hailey shifts Starr to the aggressor in their conflict, not unlike how One-Fifteen turned Khalil into the aggressor. The system of whiteness that Hailey and One-Fifteen represent makes racism the fault of the black people it hurts.

Starr blames herself for denying Khalil, but by placing Starr’s lie after the incident with Hailey, Thomas signals that racism has made it difficult for Starr to speak about difficult experiences tied to her blackness. Starr’s denial of Khalil is not about the Khalil she knew, but about the Khalil reported in the media as a drug dealer. Because of Hailey’s dismissive attitude toward Khalil, Starr knows that an association with Khalil will change how her friends treat her. Notably, when Starr blames herself for being a bad friend, she places denying Khalil in the same sentence as pushing Hailey away. We know, however, that it is Hailey who causes the rift between them because of her discomfort with the difficult aspects of Starr’s blackness.

Khalil’s funeral has two interruptions—one from Ms. Ofrah and one from King—which demonstrates the way the violent circumstances of Khalil’s death leaves those who mourn him without comfort and closure. Although Pastor Eldridge insists Khalil’s funeral should be a joyful occasion, Ms. Ofrah’s interruption reminds the mourners that Khalil’s death was an injustice that the police refuse to address, a cause for anger and a call to protest. Instead of focusing on Khalil’s “homegoing,” the mourners will have to fight for the justice system to do its job. The King Lords’s interruption stirs questions and doubt instead of providing closure. King deprives the mourners of the opportunity to reflect on their memories of Khalil and forces them to wonder how well they knew him, robbing Khalil of his innocence at his own funeral. Lisa must bring Starr home to mourn because the funeral contained no space for Starr to simply grieve.

After his death, Khalil is flattened out for other people to use as a symbol. Upon seeing the corpse, Starr can only think about how the body is not really Khalil because of the makeup and lack of dimples, and he looks like a mannequin. That is, in death Khalil no longer gets to be himself; others choose how to arrange him. To the police and people like Mr. Lewis, Khalil is a drug dealer, a stereotype they can shorthand to justify his death as necessary or inevitable. When the King Lords bring the bandana, they stake a claim over Khalil that no one can contradict, and the gossip they create changes the perception of Khalil, overshadowing the funeral with rumors. Now that Khalil is dead, other people can decide how they want to define him, and those narrations often do not encompass Khalil’s true, nuanced identity.