The interview with One-Fifteen’s father shows how white people use stereotypes to portray black people as dangerous and justify their deaths. In order to portray Starr and Khalil as violent, his account differs significantly from Starr’s narration in Chapter Two. The media bolsters this account with images of dangerous parts of Garden Heights, making Starr and Khalil seem dangerous by association. Even though Starr notes the ridiculousness of portraying two teenagers as “superhuman” enough to hurt an armed police officer, the stereotypes invoked mean that some people, like Hailey, will not question this account. Furthermore, One-Fifteen’s father uses positive archetypes of white people to make One-Fifteen seem innocent. The cross necklace One-Fifteen wears invokes Christianity as a shorthand for morality and goodness. One-Fifteen’s father also emphasizes that One-Fifteen has a family and children, which portrays him as an upstanding family man unlikely to do wrong. However, these positive portrayals erase that Khalil had a family and a future ahead of himself. The interview sets up a narrative where One-Fifteen’s life has great importance and has to be defended at all costs, whereas Khalil’s life is acceptable collateral damage.
Uncle Carlos changes his mind about One-Fifteen because Starr makes the incident personal for Uncle Carlos and impossible to rationalize. Uncle Carlos could distance himself from Khalil, whom he had not seen in a few years, but he knows Starr as well as a daughter. He can no longer deny the reality that Starr’s goodness, her prep school education, nor her being partially raised by him could protect her from police threats because One-Fifteen saw her blackness instead of seeing a sixteen-year-old girl. Uncle Carlos reevaluates his priorities as a police officer and returns to his original intent to protect Starr and Garden Heights. His new framework relies on evaluating the situation before him, not relying on stereotypes, and that means not shooting someone for opening a car door—no matter where they’re from.
Lisa offers Starr a new framework for judging people that begins from a place of love, as opposed to the media’s framework of judging people based on their worst mistakes. Lisa’s suggestion to always weigh the bad against the good acknowledges that bad and good exists within every person. This framework explains that Lisa did not stay with Maverick out of blind love for him, but because she carefully considered how her love for Maverick compared to his actions and found his goodness outweighed his mistake. She also says that her judgement of Maverick would change if he cheated on her again, which acknowledges that the good and bad within a relationship shifts over time. Whereas the media holds Khalil’s drug dealing as proof of his badness, and Starr completely dismissed DeVante because of his gang connections, Lisa advocates judging people based on the bigger picture of their lives, and not forgetting that even good people can make terrible mistakes under certain circumstances.