It has been two weeks since Starr talked to the grand jury and eight weeks since Khalil’s death. Seven drives Starr to school, and appears on guard even at Williamson; he has grown more protective of Starr following her dry-snitching on King, whom Carlos has said the police are watching closely.
Seven remains extremely protective of his sister, and fears that King is so powerful that he could reach them anywhere. The fact that the police are watching King foreshadows his later arrest, though, and suggests that he may be unwilling to take action against Starr while he’s being so closely surveilled.
Starr sees Maya and Hailey talking outside Hailey’s locker. Hailey has a smug expression on her face and calls Starr a “liar” when she approaches. Hailey then hands Starr two photographs of Khalil. The first, said to be the image the news has shared, is what Maverick calls Khalil’s “thugshot,” in which he holds a bunch of money to the camera. The second is from Starr’s twelfth birthday party, and shows her, Khalil, and Hailey eating cake. Starr recognizes what the photos don’t show: a poor kid happy to finally have some money in his hands, and eagerly eating cake because there was no food at his home.
The media has chosen to share a less flattering photograph of Khalil in order to bolster the narrative that he was a thug who deserved to be shot. Khalil’s pose echoes Starr’s earlier note about them being Slytherins: money is hugely exciting to people who have grown up in poverty. These two images are a physical illustration of the double consciousness experienced by black characters in the novel; Starr can see Khalil both as he was and as white society sees him.
Hailey calls Starr a liar for pretending not to know Khalil, and demands an apology for being called racist. Maya defends Starr by pointing out that Hailey has, in fact, been saying racist things—including her Thanksgiving cat comment. Hailey dismisses her concern, saying that was so long ago that she shouldn’t be upset. She then says that Khalil probably would have been killed soon enough anyway, and that the cops did the world a favor by ridding them of a drug dealer and gangbanger. Starr punches Hailey in the face, and a fight ensues. Other students laugh and pull out their phones to record it. When Hailey’s brother Remy gets involved, Seven jumps in. Starr notes that they both know how to fight, Maverick having often taken them to the boxing gym after school.
Maya adheres to the “minority alliance” she created with Starr and refuses to let Hailey get away with the “cat” comment. Hailey remains unrepentant, though, and immediately dismisses the value of Khalil’s life. Unfortunately, many people think as Hailey does, and Starr is so angry that the stops caring about code switching; “Williamson Starr” disappears as she draws from the lessons of Garden Heights and unleashes her built up fury at Hailey.
A school security guard breaks up the fight, and the four get suspended. They are not expelled, because the headmaster takes pity on Starr “given the circumstances.” Lisa scolds Seven and Starr, saying they behaved in the way the world expected them to. Starr finally lets her anger about Khalil’s death out, shouting that he didn’t deserve to die and she’s tired of listening to people acting like it was okay that he was murdered. Lisa rubs her back and lets Starr cry.
Despite acting out of justified anger, Lisa worries that Seven and Starr behaved in a way that bolstered stereotypes of black people as violent. However unfair, Lisa understands that the world will do whatever it can to deny black people their humanity. Nevertheless, she also understands that Starr is just a teenager, has had to temper her anger and frustration for weeks, and needs a release.
Later the Carters’ house is filled with both King Lords and Garden Disciples. Maverick says that regardless of the indictment verdict, they can’t let riots get out of hand and have people burn the neighborhood down; though people are angry, destroying their home won’t fix things. Tim, Mr. Reuben’s nephew, says they all need to get more organized and avoid targeting black-owned businesses. Maverick agrees, and urges the gangs to put territory wars aside together for the sake of Garden Heights; infighting has only given the cops more power to do whatever they want. Much to Starr’s surprise, the different gang members slap palms.
Maverick emerges as a leader in the community’s fight for justice. Marking black-owned businesses is a way to prevent people from, as Tupac would say, “fucking everybody” out of anger. The fact that the rival gangs not only agree to meet, but to work together reflects the novel’s theme that people must put aside petty differences and work together to end oppression.