Maverick and Lisa take Starr and her brothers on a “trip.” At first they think they are going to Carlos’s house, but they pass his neighborhood. They eventually stop in a similar neighborhood, though there is no gate and there are more people of color. They stop in front of a brick house. Inside smells of fresh paint. The kitchen has granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. As Starr, Seven, and Sekani look around with wonder and confusion, Lisa announces that she got the job at the hospital and that this will be their new home. Though Maverick has complained about the fakeness of life in the suburbs, he says the realest thing he can do is protect his family.
The new house and Lisa’s new job represent new opportunities for the Carters to escape the crime and violence of Garden Heights. Starr notes that the new neighborhood is safer than Garden Heights, but more diverse than Carlos’s suburb, meaning she and her family won’t feel out of place or be gawked at. Maverick recognizes that caring for his family is its own form of racial justice.
Lisa says they hope to get settled before Seven goes off to college, so that he has time to make his room his own. Seven reveals that he wants to go to Central Community, a junior college in Garden Heights, to stay close to his mother and sisters. Maverick and Lisa think he can’t be serious; Central Community is “Garden Heights High 2.0” and lacks many of the opportunities of the other schools Seven applied to. Maverick insists Seven is not responsible for his sisters, and deserves to take advantage of the chance to go to school wherever he wants.
Maverick and Lisa reiterate the importance of education as a tool to better one’s circumstances. Seven will be able to fulfill his potential only by leaving Garden Heights, it’s suggested. The crime and violence of the neighborhood have already taken over Seven’s family, and now they threaten to hold him back.
That night—the night before Starr testifies in front of the grand jury—the Carters watch a basketball game together back at the house in Garden Heights. They tease each other over competing alliances and superstitious game-day traditions. Then the happy atmosphere is abruptly destroyed by gunshots and a brick shattering the living room window. Maverick screams for everyone to get down, and Lisa throws her body on top of her children. Maverick grabs his own gun and shoots at the attackers’ car as it screeches away from the house.
That the scene begins as a rare moment of genuine, carefree happiness for the Carters makes the sudden violence all the more frightening. A brick literally shatters the Carters’ home and reminds them of the inescapability of violence in the world they live in.
Lisa calls Carlos, who rushes over and insists they call the police. Maverick refuses, fearing crooked cops could be behind the attack; he believes it is no coincidence that it took place the night before Starr’s testimony. He argues with Carlos, who defends the police and says many want justice in Khalil’s case. Maverick angrily says he is not a fool and won’t pretend that some cops don’t do “dirty shit”—like the ones who made him get down on the ground just because they could.
This scene further evidences the depth of mistrust Maverick has for the police. Not all cops are bad, Maverick suggests, but the justice system enables violence against black communities by protecting those who are and punishing those who aren’t. Carlos’s conflicting identities once again pull at him, as he must defend both his job and his commitment to helping Starr.
Starr shouts that she refuses to testify anymore. In response, Maverick makes her, Sekani, and Seven recite lines from the Black Panthers’ Ten-Point Program that call for an end to police brutality “by any means necessary.” Given these teachings, he asks Starr how she can be quiet. Starr mentally notes that speaking up didn’t end well for Black Panther leaders Huey Newton and Malcom X.
Maverick does not want Starr to be scared into silent submission, but Starr now questions the power of language; speaking up has not always worked in activists’ favor.
Soon a group of King Lords, led by Goon, arrive at the Carters’ door. They are “Cedar Grove” King Lords, signifying that they are part of a different “set” than King is. Maverick says they will be providing security for the evening.
Unable to trust the police, Maverick turns to the sort of justice that reigns supreme in Garden Heights: gangs.
Carlos is outraged at the invitation of gangbangers to the house, saying King Lords may have been behind the attack in the first place. Maverick accuses him of not wanting to protect Starr because he is scared about how working with gangbangers will look to his fellow cops. Carlos screams at Maverick, pointing out all he did to raise Starr and Seven while Maverick was in prison. Every time Iesha dropped Seven off, often for weeks, he bought clothes and food, and provided shelter. He says Maverick must not ever insinuate he doesn’t care about the children. Maverick goes silent.
Maverick has positioned himself in opposition to Carlos throughout the novel, suggesting that the latter abandoned Garden Heights, is ashamed of his blackness, and contributes to the oppression of black communities. Carlos’s retort reaffirms that he has found his own way to reconcile his identities as a black man and a cop, and that only by being on the other side of the law was he able to care for Maverick’s children.