The next morning Starr wakes up to the smell of bacon. Lisa and Pam have cooked breakfast for the King Lords, who gobble everything up quickly. Lisa tells Starr to bring a plate to her father and uncle outside, and finds them sitting on the back of Maverick’s truck. Carlos motions for Starr to sit in between them, and much to her surprise, they appear to be getting along—joking with one another about the characters of Garden Heights. Carlos insinuates that they worked through their issues, their shared love of Starr being much more important than any qualms they had with each other.
The fact that a former felon and a cop finally come together to support Starr reflects the novel’s theme that boundaries must dissolve in the fight for justice. There are really only two sides: those upholding oppression and those working to end it.
The King Lords drive the Carters to the courthouse. Starr flashes back to many years earlier, when Carlos drove her, Seven, and a sobbing Lisa to the courthouse to say goodbye to Maverick before he was taken to prison. He came outside in his orange jumpsuit, but could not hug her because he was handcuffed. For the next three years Starr hated the courthouse because it took her father away from her.
This scene echoes the power the court maintains over black lives. It is a force that splits up families and disrupts communities, further entrenching them in a cycle of crime. Though the court is the only way to get justice for Khalil, Starr knows all too well that it is not as impartial as it pretends to be.
In the present, a media circus has surrounded the courthouse. A security guard leads the Carters through, but Starr must go into the courtroom alone. Before she does so, Lisa tells Starr how proud she is of her and that she is brave. Starr bristles at this word, but Lisa asserts that being brave doesn’t mean she is not scared. Maverick hugs Starr in support. Though Starr has to go into the room alone, she feels as though her parents are with her.
Starr is sworn in and begins her testimony in front of the grand jury. She gets off to a halting start, and the judge tells her she must speak up so everyone can hear what she says. The judge says they are going to discuss the details of the night of Khalil’s death. Part of Starr is terrified, but another part of her remembers that her parents are watching her, and that Khalil needs her. Strengthened by this thought, she says she is ready to speak.
Starr being told to speak louder explicitly reflects the novel’s theme of the power of language. This is Starr’s moment to use her voice to help Khalil; whereas in the DA’s office she threw up when trying to talk about the details of his death, now she finally feels ready to do what she has to.