American Street

American Street

by

Ibi Zoboi

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Uncle Q is Dray’s biological uncle, but Kasim explains that he’s also a paternal figure to many kids in the neighborhood. Uncle Q was there for these children and teens when no one else was, and he made a point to help out struggling single mothers (like Kasim’s mother and Matant Jo) when they found themselves raising children alone. But Uncle Q isn’t just a benevolent father figure—he’s also a high-powered drug dealer, in addition to being involved in a number of other ventures, such as Matant Jo’s loan sharking. He runs his operation out of the Q club and has little sympathy for his various dealers when things go south. For instance, when Chantal, Pri, and Donna aren’t able to make their payment to Uncle Q on time, Fabiola notices her cousins acting very afraid to go out, as though they expect to run into Uncle Q or one of his cronies and suffer retribution of some sort. Though Uncle Q only appears in person once in the novel, he looms large as a villain in Fabiola’s mind once she figures out who he is.

Uncle Q Quotes in American Street

The American Street quotes below are all either spoken by Uncle Q or refer to Uncle Q. 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.
Drayton’s Story Quotes

It’s war out here, son. If my pops and his pops before him been fighting all their lives to just fucking breathe, then what’s there for a little nigga to contemplate when somebody puts a gun in his hands?

Related Characters: Dray (speaker), Uncle Q
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:
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American Street PDF

Uncle Q Character Timeline in American Street

The timeline below shows where the character Uncle Q appears in American Street. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 14
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...his mother, not her. He sighs and says that he got the tickets from his Uncle Q , who is Dray’s uncle. In a lot of ways, though, Uncle Q is everyone’s... (full context)
Chapter 15
Spirituality Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...The first two words are “street” and “block,” so Fabiola heads for the block that Uncle Q owns. She’s certain she’ll find Dray and the underworld when she gets where she’s going. (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...wants to throw a party here when Manman is released. Dray laughs and says that Uncle Q threw Matant Jo a birthday party here once. Then, he tells Fabiola that if she... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...Detective Stevens. In a rush, Fabiola says that her uncle Phillip “went down” for Dray’s Uncle Q , and that there are bad things happening in the club. Detective Stevens is concerned... (full context)
Chapter 19
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...Pri’s stocking feet approach Dray’s boots. Barefoot, Donna steps up to Dray and asks if Uncle Q had to bail out the white girl, if the girl is “moving weight,” or if... (full context)
Chapter 21
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...lying low with everything on the news. Chantal adds that they don’t want to get Uncle Q in trouble. Fabiola takes stock of all she knows about Uncle Q, and she deduces... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Uncle Q says that he’s here to collect, but Chantal says they need more time—they tossed the... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...cousins in jail and won’t bring back Manman. She feels ready to fall over as Uncle Q insinuates that Matant Jo didn’t teach her daughters to count money. He insists that he... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola asks how her cousins expect to get the money. Chantal explains that Uncle Q was like a father to them after Phillip died. Pri snaps that Uncle Q isn’t... (full context)
Chapter 22
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...her cousins’ drugs. At the restaurant, Chantal looks around nervously—Fabiola realizes that she’s afraid of Uncle Q . In the restaurant, Fabiola tries to focus on her waffles and ignore all the... (full context)
Chapter 24
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...Donna doesn’t know the difference between love and abuse, while Pri fights everything. Dray and Uncle Q are in the middle of all of this. Fabiola feels her rage rising and vows... (full context)
Chapter 26
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...listen. The cousins decide to steal Matant Jo’s pills and sell them, just to show Uncle Q they’re trying—but Chantal mentions that that they’ve made $20,000 in a night before. Fabiola can’t... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...boyfriend who used to help her. When Dray asks why Fabiola came to his and Uncle Q ’s house the other day, Fabiola says that she needs money to help Manman. She... (full context)
Kasim’s Story
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...since Kasim was in kindergarten and Dray was in third grade. Once Dray’s dad left, Uncle Q stepped in to care for Kasim. Now, Uncle Q is like a father. Kasim doesn’t... (full context)
Chapter 29
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...Dray; he’ll find out that Fabiola set Kasim up and that they secretly went to Uncle Q . Tired of listening to them argue, Fabiola gets out and walks toward the party.... (full context)
Chapter 30
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...and they need a plan. The cousins agree that they can’t call Matant Jo, since Uncle Q is probably keeping her away from the house. (full context)
Drayton’s Story
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...free. He wasn’t, though—he had to contend with a corrupt system. This is why, when Uncle Q gave 10-year-old Dray a gun and told him to shoot the guy in the Detroit... (full context)