All American Boys

by

Jason Reynolds

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All American Boys: 12. Wednesday: Rashad Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Chief Killabrew’s card says that he was planning to visit Rashad before he heard that he didn’t want visitors. He wishes Rashad well, and encloses the ROTC creed. Rashad wonders if the creed is supposed to make him feel guilty for his supposed wrongdoing, or if it is supposed to make him feel better. He feels uncomfortable about the link between ROTC, the military, and law enforcement. On Tuesday night, Rashad had a nightmare about what happened at Jerry’s. In the morning, David comes to visit him before work at 7am.
Rashad’s relationship to the military is clearly very different from the one his father had. Whereas David found meaning and purpose in the military, Rashad feels vaguely threatened by it. After suffering police violence, he cannot pretend that the connection between the police and military is nonexistent or meaningless.
Themes
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
Hesitantly, David begins to tell Rashad a story from when he was a cop. To Rashad’s surprise, it is a story he has never heard before. One night, David got a noise complaint and drove over to the East Side, where he found a white kid and a black kid (Darnell Shackleford) in a fight. He notes that Darnell was dressed like Spoony, with dreads, a hoodie, and sagging pants. David immediately grabbed Darnell, who tried to run away, shouting that he didn’t do anything. Darnell reached into his backpack and David told him to put his hands up; when he didn’t, David shot him.
Again, David serves as an example of the ways black people can internalize racist prejudice and inflict it on others. On one level, this arguably indicates a weakness in David. However, it is also possible to see this anecdote as evidence of just how powerful racism is—so powerful that it can overwhelm a person’s own beliefs and cause them to act in a way that they would never choose of their own accord.
Themes
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
Rashad is in shock. He has only ever heard stories of heroic acts David committed as a cop. David explains that it turns out Darnell was the one being robbed, and that he had been trying to reach for his inhaler because he was having an asthma attack. He adds that he didn’t kill him, but did paralyze him from the waist down. David explains that at the time, Rashad was too young to understand, but that Spoony remembers everything that happened in the aftermath: “The news. The drama.” David admits that he is haunted by the incident and believes Spoony is too. He emphasizes that being a cop is “a really hard job,” which every day carries the risk of death.
Like Paul, David has tried to avoid taking fully responsibility for the act of violence he committed. Up until this point, he has only told Rashad stories that made him look like a hero. However, at this moment David finally chooses another path. Revealing this story to Rashad while Rashad himself is recovering from an incident of police brutality is difficult, and a sign that David may be developing a more mature, nuanced understanding of these issues.
Themes
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Rashad asks why David wanted to be a cop, and he says he wanted to do good. After the incident with Darnell, he quit the force. He emphasizes that most cops are actually good. Rashad adds that most guys who look like Spoony aren’t criminals, but David warns that he doesn’t know everything. David then explains that Jessica wants to press charges. As David goes to leave, Rashad says that he’s going to try to go to the protest on Friday if he’s well enough. David says nothing, and exits. 
Although the novel is mostly concerned with the way teenagers gradually develop an understanding of racism and injustice, it also shows that this is a lifelong process, rather than one that ends in adulthood. In this scene, David is just as confused and conflicted as Quinn, if not more so.  
Themes
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
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After drawing for an hour or two, Rashad goes for another walk, taking a lap around the hospital floor. He returns to find two women in his room: Mrs. Fitzgerald and a white woman who introduces herself as Katie Lansing, the woman who was in Jerry’s just before Rashad’s arrest. They explain that they have both come up, separately, to visit Rashad. Rashad feels dizzy, but Mrs. Fitzgerald is protective of him. Katie apologizes, becoming tearful as she remembers what happened at Jerry’s. She gives Rashad her business card and offers to testify. This is the first time that Rashad has thought about actually going to court, and he feels terrified.
While David may still be too conflicted to offer Rashad the support he needs, Rashad is able to find support in other people––many of whom are relative strangers. By apologizing and offering to testify, Katie models a kind of behavior that uses white privilege in order to actively counter racism. In this sense, she serves as a positive example of the role white people can play in tackling racism and police brutality.
Themes
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
Mrs. Fitzgerald reminds Rashad that he told her he’d been in a car accident. She then admits that she already knew who he was when he first came into the gift shop, but that she knew it would make him feel better if she just treated him like a normal person. Mrs. Fitzgerald observes that Rashad is scared to participate in the process, and tells him she was alive during the Civil Rights Movement. She remembers what it was like before, when segregation and violence restricted black people’s existence at every turn. Yet she admits that she didn’t participate in any Civil Rights activism, even when her brother begged her to. She was too scared.
This passage shows that all people have weaknesses, and that sometimes the most courageous thing to do is own up to one’s own failings. Mrs. Fitzgerald forgives Rashad for lying to her because she can understand why he did it. She then makes a confession of her own, revealing her own failings and vulnerabilities. Rather than damaging her relationship with Rashad, this strengthens it, as Rashad is also scared and thus this brings them together.
Themes
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Mrs. Fitzgerald says that she’s not telling him what to do, but she wanted to share her story. She then pulls some chips out of her bag, telling him she got every flavor except plain. After Mrs. Fitzgerald leaves, Rashad reflects on how terrifying it must have been to protest during the Civil Rights Movement. He resolves to attend the protest despite his own fear. In a flurry of energy, he returns to his drawing, and for the first time includes facial features in the figures he draws.
Rashad’s conversation with Mrs. Fitzgerald is a turning point, after which he is determined to assert himself and act on his principles. While Rashad retains plenty of respect for Mrs. Fitzgerald, he does not want to be left with the same regret she has about not participating in activism. He learns from her wisdom, and in doing so becomes more mature himself.
Themes
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon