American Street

American Street

by

Ibi Zoboi

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Kasim is Dray’s best friend; he later becomes Fabiola’s boyfriend. At first, Fabiola describes Kasim as a vagabon, or a bad boy, and wants nothing to do with him because of his association with Dray. But from the moment they first meet, Fabiola feels drawn to him. He insists on calling her “Fabulous” and makes Fabiola feel “like honey.” As Fabiola and Kasim get to know each other, they fall in love. Fabiola learns that Kasim was raised by his mom and grew up Muslim. When his dad left for Memphis when Kasim was still young, Uncle Q, Dray’s uncle, stepped in to provide for Kasim like a son. In addition, Dray, who’s three years older, was also there for Kasim and made sure that Kasim was accepted and respected in the neighborhood. Though Kasim admits that some of the things he did as a young person would destroy his mom if she knew about them, he’s since cleaned up his act. He works at a local café and drives a car that’s constantly broken down. He’s saving up to buy a house, so his car is a low priority for him. If Kasim does need something expensive right away, he sometimes does favors for Dray and sells drugs, which he describes to Fabiola as “Shit you do for fam.” Fabiola takes this to mean that Kasim is loyal to those he considers family and will do anything for them. Though Fabiola finds these qualities attractive, she’s disturbed by Kasim’s nonchalance when it comes to Dray and Donna’s abusive relationship. Kasim insists that he has no reason to step in when his best friend gets violent with Donna; he simply tells Fabiola that their relationship won’t ever be like that. To his credit, he’s correct: whenever he’s with Fabiola, he treats her kindly and respectfully. But the day after Kasim and Fabiola have sex for the first time, Kasim is murdered by police. His name means “divided amongst many” in Arabic, and Fabiola finds that Kasim’s ghost embodies this: his spirit rests with the many people who protest his murder.

Kasim Quotes in American Street

The American Street quotes below are all either spoken by Kasim or refer to Kasim. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Balzer + Bray edition of American Street published in 2017.
Chapter 10 Quotes

“But I ain’t no kingpin, know what I’m saying? So it’s just favors here and there. Shit you do for fam.”

A cold chill travels up my spine. Shit you do for fam. The way he says it, it’s like he would do anything for his family, like for love and respect. I say it out loud. “Shit you do for fam.” I turn to him.

“Shit you do for fam,” he repeats.

Related Characters: Kasim (speaker), Fabiola Toussaint (speaker), Dray, Manman/Valerie Toussaint
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

“On American Street, I will live with my aunt Jo and my cousins, and go to school, and have a cute boyfriend, and keep my mouth shut because in Haiti I learned not to shake hands with the devil. But on Joy Road, I will tell the truth. The truth will lead to my happiness, and I will drive long and far without anything in my way, like the path to New Jersey, to my mother, to her freedom, to my joy. Which road should I take, Papa Legba?”

Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 29 Quotes

I want to say sorry to Chantal. I want to ask her why, with all that money, they never bought a house here. I want to ask her why, with all her brains, is she selling drugs.

Related Characters: Fabiola Toussaint (speaker), Chantal François, Kasim
Page Number: 295
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 32 Quotes

We are all in white. Even Pri has shed her dark clothes and now wears a white turtleneck and pants. I had wrapped my cousins and aunt in white sheets after making a healing bath of herbs and Florida water for each one, and let them curl into themselves and cry and cry. This is what Manman had done for our neighbors who survived the big earthquake. The bath is like a baptism, and if black is the color of mourning, then white is the color of rebirth and new beginnings.

Page Number: 321
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire American Street LitChart as a printable PDF.
American Street PDF

Kasim Character Timeline in American Street

The timeline below shows where the character Kasim appears in American Street. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...other boy, who intentionally mishears Fabiola’s name and calls her Fabulous. He introduces himself as Kasim, which makes Fabiola laugh because it sounds like the Creole word for “break me.” She... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Kasim explains that everyone calls the couple D&D, like Dungeons and Dragons—Donna is the dragon, and... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
As the club empties, Fabiola realizes that she’s alone. Kasim brings her coat to her and leads her outside. There, Pri is yelling at Dray... (full context)
Chapter 9
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...the money but takes the card. Outside the restaurant, a car honks behind Fabiola. It’s Kasim. He asks why she’s still here and opens the passenger door for her. Kasim tell... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Kasim moves some junk out of the way and apologizes, explaining that not everyone can be... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...how Manman is still in New Jersey, and how Detective Stevens asked for something impossible. Kasim’s cellphone rings: it’s Dray. Fabiola wonders if it’s true about Dray’s dealing drugs. Hanging up... (full context)
Chapter 10
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
At the restaurant, Fabiola doesn’t like any of the food. Kasim asks her if people retire to Haiti when they’re old. Fabiola says that some do,... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Kasim pays for the meal in cash and ignores Fabiola as they get back in his... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Kasim insists that Dray and Donna do their own thing. He also explains that Dray is... (full context)
Chapter 11
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Pri warns Fabiola to not have sex with Kasim too fast, while Donna yells from the bathroom that Pri should worry about her own... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...and they start a pillow fight. Fabiola feels happy and lets her thoughts wander to Kasim. Donna tells Fabiola that Kasim is sweet—if he loves her, she says, he’ll make Fabiola... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
...help her choose. Fabiola says that on American Street, she’ll live with her family, date Kasim, and stay quiet. On Joy Road, she’ll tell the truth and become happy, since she’ll... (full context)
Chapter 12
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...for Imani; she believes Papa Legba has opened the door to friendship for her. Since Kasim has been asking Fabiola to visit him at work, she texts him for his café’s... (full context)
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Kasim greets the girls as they take a table. Imani starts to talk about Fabiola’s essay,... (full context)
Chapter 13
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Hours later, Fabiola and Imani are the only customers in the café when Kasim and his coworkers begin to close up. As Imani teaches Fabiola how to cite sources... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Kasim comes out of the café, kisses Fabiola, and says that Dray is going to drive... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola tries to defend Imani to Donna, which makes Dray tell Kasim to control his girlfriend. Chantal gently asks Imani where she lives. In a rush, Imani... (full context)
Chapter 14
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Donna attempts to put a wig on Fabiola in preparation for her date with Kasim. Fabiola pulls away and wonders whether Manman would approve of Kasim or her outfit. Just... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...immigrant. Chantal asks where they’re going. Fabiola doesn’t know, so Chantal tells her to make Kasim bring her back if he’s going to take her to his house. Pri tells Fabiola... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
When the doorbell rings, Fabiola sees Dray’s car outside—Dray let Kasim borrow it. Fabiola doesn’t want to get in and looks for Bad Leg, but the... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...posters, and she’s never seen an audience made up of so many Black people. As Kasim puts an arm around Fabiola, she realizes that she’s underdressed. Kasim tells her she looks... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Afterwards, Fabiola asks how much the tickets cost. She tells Kasim that he should be spending money on his car and his mother, not her. He... (full context)
Chapter 15
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Fabiola struggles with a mix of feelings. Kasim makes her feel like honey, while thinking of Manman’s absence makes her feel empty. She... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...Matant Jo a birthday party here once. Then, he tells Fabiola that if she and Kasim are serious, Fabiola will meet Uncle Q soon—and Fabiola and Kasim can have what he... (full context)
Chapter 17
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...went easy on her. Imani insists that Fabiola has been spending too much time with Kasim to write and asks what Fabiola “put out” to see Alvin Ailey, thrusting her hips.... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...have to go—if only because Dray is paying. Dray wants Fabiola to look good for Kasim. Chantal explains that Dray tried to butter up her and Pri like this too. Pri... (full context)
Chapter 18
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...in tight clothes and follows her to Dray’s car when they hear it pull up. Kasim looks confused when he sees Fabiola, but she leads him into the backseat. At the... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Kasim is outside the bathroom when the girls come out. He leads them to Dray’s private... (full context)
Chapter 20
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...is, and the girl introduces herself as Tonesha and says her cousin Raquel “already claimed Kasim.” Fabiola shouts for Tonesha to stay away from her boyfriend, eliciting oohs from the entire... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Kasim picks Fabiola up in his old car that afternoon. Fabiola gets in slowly, so that... (full context)
Chapter 22
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...know. Fabiola also starts borrowing more of Donna’s clothes, which helps them bond. She ignores Kasim and accompanies her cousins everywhere. (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...refuses it, which offends Matant Jo. On their way out of the restaurant, Dray and Kasim arrive. Though Dray tries to talk to Donna, she ignores him while Pri, Chantal, and... (full context)
Chapter 23
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...Fabiola is incredulous. Regardless, everyone enjoys the meal until there’s a knock at the door—it’s Kasim. Before Fabiola can fix her hair or put a bra on, he enters and offers... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Kasim explains that his family boycotts Thanksgiving as “the white man’s holiday.” Chantal suggests that January... (full context)
Chapter 24
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola spots Kasim far below them and waves. He makes his way up, and Fabiola realizes too late... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...but she knows this is a lie. Pri looks at Fabiola and shakes her head. Kasim tells Fabiola to not worry about Donna and Dray. He insists that Dray does love... (full context)
Chapter 26
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...Jo stopped just like Dray stopped being violent, but Donna ignores this. She announces that Kasim isn’t cheating on Fabiola, and that Fabiola won the fight. Even Chantal seems to approve,... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...day, the first day of Fabiola’s suspension, she asks Chantal to drop her off at Kasim’s job. At the café, Kasim brings Fabiola a croissant and hot chocolate. He joins her... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Spirituality Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...20 percent, and if Dray wants, she can connect him to Zoe Pound. Just then, Kasim and his coworker come out of the café, and Fabiola slips out of Dray’s car... (full context)
Chapter 28
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
During the week of Fabiola’s suspension, Kasim takes her on a tour of Detroit. They go to the Motown museum and a... (full context)
Kasim’s Story
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Kasim says that Dray used to call him a mama’s boy, because Kasim’s mom used to... (full context)
Chapter 29
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
By 8:00 p.m., Kasim still hasn’t texted back. Fabiola takes Chantal’s advice and doesn’t text again. Instead, she puts... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
...shake as her cousins ask what’s going on. She ignores them and tries to call Kasim, but he doesn’t answer. Then, Fabiola asks Donna to call Dray—she needs to know if... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...Chantal notes that Dray isn’t stupid and won’t go to Grosse Pointe. Pri yells that Kasim will be the one selling—Fabiola’s stupidity will get Kasim arrested. Fabiola tries to remember Papa... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...the party. Pri insists they can’t get closer, but Chantal suggests they wait and take Kasim home with them. Chantal stops Fabiola from leaving the car and Donna tries to call... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...earthquake, but this time, there’s only one body instead of thousands. The body belongs to Kasim. Fabiola falls to the ground, remembers that Kasim’s name means “divided amongst many,” and feels... (full context)
Chapter 30
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...his eye patch; the eye underneath is gone. He demands to know what happened to Kasim. Chantal gives Fabiola the keys, tells her to get inside, and shouts at Dray to... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...face again. Donna pleads with him to stop and begs Fabiola to talk. Fabiola says Kasim’s name, and with Chantal’s help, she stands up. Shaking, Dray says that Kasim was all... (full context)
Chapter 31
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...on the street corner. She wants to thank him, but all she can say is Kasim’s name. Chantal brings Fabiola back into the house. They stand with Pri and watch Donna... (full context)
Chapter 32
Spirituality Theme Icon
Fabiola sees Kasim’s face everywhere: she sees him in her dreams, as well as on TV, posters, and... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
In the days after Kasim’s death, Fabiola meets Kasim’s mother and speaks with Mr. Nolan and Ms. Stanley. She barely... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...save her cousins from Dray. But if this is true, she can’t figure out where Kasim fits in. One day, a car pulls up: it’s Detective Stevens. Fabiola only gets in... (full context)