On Wednesday evening, Jessica brought a lawyer, Maya Whitmeyer, to the hospital. Rashad was exhausted, but still managed to tell “every detail” of what happened to him at Jerry’s. Maya was confident that it would be an “open-and-shut” case, but Rashad found that difficult to believe. Rashad told Maya and Jessica that Katie Lansing visited and offered to testify, which pleased Maya. On Thursday morning Rashad wakes up to the news that he is okay to leave the hospital, and he is thrilled. However, he soon realizes that the only clothes he has are the ones he was wearing on Friday, which are smeared with dirt and his blood.
Rashad’s dirt- and blood-smeared clothes symbolize the fact that what happened to him at Jerry’s will continue to haunt him for the rest of his life. Although he can now leave hospital and return to a sense of normality, he will never be able to undo or forget what happened––it will be part of him forever.
Clarissa enters and checks Rashad’s vitals one last time. She is happy to hear that he is going home. She asks if he ever finished his drawing, and is extremely impressed by the final product. Clarissa comments on the fact that Rashad gave the figure being beaten a face, and Rashad replies: “He deserves a face.” Rashad texts his friends, who tell him about Quinn and Guzzo’s fight at basketball practice. English says: “School is intense. Everybody’s picked a side.”
There is a notable difference in the way Rashad processes the incident at Jerry’s versus what has been happening in school. Whereas school is divided, with everyone taking a side, Rashad’s reaction is far more calm and reflective.
Rashad is sad not to see Mrs. Fitzgerald again before leaving the hospital, but he is also desperate to leave. As Rashad and his parents drive home, there is a tense silence in the car. At home, Rashad searches #RashadIsAbsentAgainToday and is shocked by the volume of posts it returns. He sees videos of people defending him, and a picture of an unknown person wearing a t-shirt that says “I’M MARCHING… ARE YOU?” He also sees hundreds of pictures of himself, some in his normal clothes and some in his ROTC uniform. In the comments, people debate whether or not he looks like someone who would rob a store.
Against his will, Rashad has become not only a public figure, but a symbol. People in Springfield and beyond look to his case as an incident that proves their existing views to be correct––whatever those views may be. To some people, Rashad is a “thug,” while to others he is an upstanding, ideal young man, and to others he is simply a normal, innocent boy caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
After seeing a comment about David’s shooting of Darnell Shackleford, Rashad decides to look up Darnell. Seeing pictures of Darnell in his wheelchair, he realizes that he is marching for Darnell as much as himself. Later that night, English, Shannon, Carlos, and Spoony come over, and Jessica orders Mother’s Pizza. The boys explain what has been happening at school in Rashad’s absence. English tells Rashad about the argument he had with Quinn at basketball practice, and then explains how he and Quinn decided to name their new play after Rashad.
Rashad may be right in the spotlight, but instead of becoming self-centered or egotistical, he is more determined than ever to think of others. He is painfully aware that he is not the only victim of racist police brutality, and thus vows to fight on behalf of all black people––and particularly the man who was shot by his own father.
Rashad tells Carlos that he knows it was him who did the graffiti outside school. Carlos denies it with a smile. Spoony begins discussing the protest; when Rashad expresses concern about his friends missing basketball practice, they respond that it’s unimportant. English notes that the protest has spread far beyond Springfield Central High, and Jessica adds that Pastor Johnson will be coming with a group of people. Rashad wonders if David will come. Spoony suggested doing a die-in at the march, explaining that this involves lying down on the ground as form of protest. This makes both Rashad and Jessica nervous. Spoony then reveals a plan to read out a list of black people killed by the police.
Although there is a sense of excitement surrounding the protest, this is undercut with anxiety, particularly for Rashad and Jessica. All forms of activism carry some level of risk, and for black people, the risks associated with protesting are particularly severe. Marches are always accompanied by a heavy police presence, and it thus takes a significant amount of courage for Rashad to participate, given what happened to him so recently at Jerry’s.