The chapter begins with a long quotation from a newscast about Rashad’s arrest. There is an interview with Claudia James, the woman who shot the video. She says that Rashad was “manhandled” and that he couldn’t have been resisting arrest, considering that he was handcuffed. This is followed by another interview with a man who claims that Paul was right to do what he did. Rashad is dismayed by the second interviewee’s views, particularly his comments about Rashad’s appearance. Rashad mutes the TV and gets back to work on his drawing. Clarissa comes in, and Rashad thanks her for all her kindness. On TV, the police chief expresses support for Paul, and Clarissa tells Rashad: “Don’t let the bastards get you down.”
The novel jumps back and forth between oppositional opinions on Rashad’s arrest, highlighting the level of conflict surrounding the issues of racism and police violence in America. The town of Springfield appears to be completely divided. Those on Paul’s side care more about loyalty and respect for authority than they do about what actually took place. They seem to be more guided by stereotypes and prejudice than those who support Rashad.
Jessica enters Rashad’s room, and says that David couldn’t make it, as he has an upset stomach. She gives Rashad an envelope from Chief Killabrew, and asks what he’s drawing. When Rashad shows her his drawing, she starts to cry. She reminds Rashad that he is not a criminal, and Rashad can sense her anger. She repeats: “This is not okay.” Paul Galluzzo is shown on the TV, and Jessica calls him an “asshole,” which shocks Rashad, as his mother never curses. She apologizes; Rashad holds her, and they cry together.
Jessica’s breakdown shows that what happened to Rashad is too much for her to handle. She is ordinarily a calm and forgiving woman, but the level of injustice taking place around her––and the fact that her son is at the center of it––is too much for her to bear.
Later, Jessica and Rashad are watching Family Feud when Spoony and Berry arrive. Berry is in law school, which pleases David. She is also beautiful; Rashad describes her as “everybody’s first crush.” However, after she and Spoony started dating, Rashad and his friends stopped joking about their attraction to her out of respect for Spoony. Spoony shows Rashad a picture of the graffiti outside school. Berry explains that the graffiti has inspired a hashtag, #RashadIsAbsentAgainToday, and that there is going to be a protest. Jessica is nervous about this and tentatively suggests that not all cops are bad, adding that she married a good one. Spoony quickly disagrees. Rashad asks if protests actually work, and Spoony and Berry insist that they do.
Unlike Spoony, both Rashad and Jessica seem to be relatively unfamiliar with politics and activism. As a 16-year-old boy, Rashad has perhaps not yet developed as strong convictions as his brother, and is uncertain about the practical aspects of protest. Jessica, meanwhile, is cautious about what protesting police violence signifies. She is reluctant to admit that police brutality is a structural problem, because in her mind this implies that all cops are bad. However, protesting the police as a whole is a way of showing that individual cops are not the problem.
Soon after, English, Shannon, and Carlos arrive; they, too, immediately begin talking about the protest. English explains that Mr. Fisher is helping them plan it. Jessica remains hesitant. The boys share stories of times they’ve been treated with aggression and suspicion by the police. After hearing these stories, Rashad announces that he is “down with the protest,” even though part of him remains nervous.
Rashad is hesitant about protesting on his own behalf, but when he is reminded of the ways police violence affects all black people––including his friends and family––he suddenly feels determined to take part, knowing that the issue is far bigger than him.