As Rashad drifts into consciousness, he keeps hearing the word “custody” repeated over and over. His nose is broken and will never look the same, and the nurses have been applying ice packs to his ribs. Last night, a police officer stood outside his hospital room to make sure he didn’t run away. The officer told Rashad’s parents that he was caught stealing and that he could be charged with theft, resisting arrest, and causing a public nuisance. Rashad could hardly breathe and was thus in no position to try and explain the truth.
Because of his race, the police do not perceive Rashad as innocent. Instead, they insist that he committed criminal activity, even though the only evidence for this are the assumptions made by Paul and the cashier. Rashad’s inability to breathe properly and explain the situation symbolizes a broader way in which black people are suffocated and suppressed by racism.
In the morning, Rashad wakes up to see his mother, Jessica, sitting at his bedside. He feels terrible, but is grateful to at least be alive. David enters, and Jessica asks Rashad to tell them, honestly, what happened. Rashad tries to explain that he didn’t steal anything and doesn’t know why he was falsely accused, but he suddenly feels overwhelmed with tiredness. David remains suspicious. A nurse, Clarissa, brings in Rashad’s breakfast. Rashad manages to tell the story of what happened in detail, but his father is still skeptical. He asks if Rashad’s pants were sagging, but Jessica interrupts to point out that Rashad has never been in trouble for anything.
This passage emphasizes that racism and stereotypes do not only affect the way that white people view the world. Black people like David can also internalize racist ideas and come to focus on respectability so much that they lose sight of the true nature of injustice. It is particularly striking that David thinks this way given that it was his own son who was beaten by the police. As Jessica reminds her husband, Rashad has never been in trouble, so why is David so quick to assume it was his fault?
David mentions that the police said Rashad resisted arrest, adding that he always told his sons to “just do what they ask you to do, and you’ll be fine.” Rashad explains that he tried to do that, but that it didn’t make a difference. David looks disappointed, as if he remains convinced that the incident was indeed Rashad’s fault. Soon after, Rashad’s brother Spoony arrives. Spoony and David do not get along well. Spoony wears his hair in dreadlocks, which David argues will make people think he does drugs. When Rashad tells Spoony the story of what happened, Spoony explodes in anger, saying: “I’m so sick of them treating us like we animals.”
David and Spoony represent two polar opposite reactions to the issues of police brutality and racism. David insists that it is the responsibility of black people to comply with the police and make themselves seem non-threatening, for example by dressing in a certain way. Spoony, meanwhile, places the responsibility on those who commit acts of racism––those who treat black people “like animals” and assume them to always be guilty of something.
Jessica tells Spoony to calm down, but this only angers him further. He recites statistics about police racism, which frustrates David, who Rashad notes always calls Spoony “a rebel without a cause.” Dr. Barnes enters, and tells the family that Rashad’s nose and ribs are healing well, but that he has had internal bleeding and thus needs to stay in the hospital to be monitored. There is a chance that Rashad will need surgery, which frightens him and his family.
Along with a frightening medical diagnosis, Rashad must also deal with his family fighting over what happened to him and how to approach it. Considering he is only 16, it is deeply unjust that Rashad must deal with these issues, particularly considering that he never even did anything wrong in the first place.
Berry, who is Spoony’s girlfriend and English’s older sister, is at the hospital too. Rashad drifts in and out of sleep, watching TV when he wakes up. In the evening, Rashad wakes to find his parents asleep. He talks to Spoony, who tells him that Berry has been waiting to see if anything has been posted on the internet about the incident at Jerry’s––so far, nothing. Rashad is hesitant about the idea of being in the spotlight as a victim of police brutality, but knows there is no point in telling Spoony to let it go. Spoony is determined to fight back.
In many ways, Spoony is more supportive of Rashad than David. On the other hand, in his enthusiasm to secure justice for his brother, Spoony does not check how Rashad is feeling about the attention he will receive as a public victim of police brutality. Rashad is left in the middle of several different disputes, with everyone seemingly forgetting that Rashad is actually a person with his own feelings.