Dear Justyce

Dear Justyce

by

Nic Stone

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Dear Justyce can help.

Dear Justyce: Snapshot: Two Boys, an Attorney, a Teacher, and a Disgruntled Guard in a Conference Room Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Quan almost trips when he sees Justyce in the conference room, dressed in a suit. He’s clearly trying hard to look like a “Professional Negro,” but Justyce can surely tell that Quan is making fun of him for it. But seeing Justyce also makes Quan feel like he can breathe easier. Attorney Friedman invites Quan and Doc to sit. An image appears on a screen and Quan frantically thinks of how to smash the projector. It shows Quan, seated in an interrogation room. Quan feels stabbing pain in his shoulder and his chest tightens, so he tries to take deep breaths and ward off a panic attack. He comes to when he feels a hand on his arm. It’s Adrienne asking if he’s okay.
Justyce’s presence helps Quan feel like he can breathe, which drives home the strength of Quan and Justyce’s friendship. This suggests that Quan trusts Justyce to not put him through anything awful. Though this is called into question when Quan experiences the beginnings of a panic attack upon seeing the image of himself in the interrogation room. But with the support of Attorney Friedman and Justyce, Quan is able to believe that he can get through whatever is about to happen.
Themes
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Quan notices that everyone else (aside from Justyce in his suit) is wearing normal clothes. He’d give anything to be in normal T-shirts and sneakers. In the video still on the screen, Quan is wearing his favorite hoodie. He misses it. He tells Attorney Friedman that he’s fine. She goes to the front of the room and says that they’re going to watch footage from the night of Quan’s arrest. An intern condensed 19 hours of video into 12 minutes. Quan watches as the Quan in the video transforms from a resolute young man to a little boy. It blows Quan away how quickly the cops broke him.
Seeing people wearing normal street clothes instead of prison garb makes Quan feel even more set apart from the outside world. While he’s in prison, he’s physically marked as a prisoner and is denied the chance to express himself through his clothing. Getting that opportunity to choose what identity to portray, he realizes, is a privilege.
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When it’s over, Justyce is grinning. He starts to say that he knew it, but Quan is angry and confused. Justyce says that Quan’s Miranda rights were violated. Attorney Friedman explains that Quan invoked his right to remain silent every time he went into the interrogation room, but the cops ignored it. She also suspects coercion, since he wasn’t given food or water, and he also wasn’t allowed to sleep or use the restroom. Justyce says that even without the coercion, the confession should be inadmissible in court. Everyone else is fighting a smile, but Quan is confused. He asks what this means, and Doc says that it looks like Quan is a step closer to freedom.
Getting Quan’s confession thrown out is significant, as it means that Quan’s case will now be decided on the evidence (or the lack thereof) and not on a lie he told when coerced. That Justyce and Attorney Friedman were able to make this happen speaks to the necessity of having such a robust community with a variety of different skills. In all his study of the Georgia legal system, Quan never realized that the police violated his rights—he needed help to get to this point.
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