The next morning, April Ofrah calls to apologize for putting Starr in a dangerous situation, but also says she thinks Starr has a future in activism. Starr looks at the poster of Tupac on her wall, which was the first item she put up in her new bedroom because it felt like “bringing Khalil” with her. She says that all the rioting last night was because people were angry, and “it fucked all of us.” She decides it is time to “un-fuck” everybody.
Starr has grown to the point that she not only understands Tupac’s quote but feels compelled to pick up where it leaves off. Starr recognizes that the previous night’s chaos and destruction to have been the result of righteous anger, but also that anger is not enough to bring lasting justice for people like Khalil. Starr is no longer content with accepting the hate she has been given, and instead wants to work towards fixing a broken system.
Hailey texts Starr to say that she is sorry—for the verdict and that Starr is upset with her. Starr understands this means she is not sorry for her actions, just for Starr’s response to them. Hailey also says she wants things to be the way they used to be, but Starr texts back that they never will be, because Hailey may never see how wrong she was. Remembering Lisa’s advice to weigh the good and the bad of a relationship, she decides to cut Hailey out of her life and deletes her phone number.
Starr recognizes that Hailey may never change, and that she does not have to be friends with people whose words and beliefs contribute to her oppression. She no longer cares about being accepted by people who will never fully accept her.
Starr walks down the hallway, noting that she has yet to get used to the layout of their new house. Maverick is at the kitchen counter, clipping the rosebush he brought all the way from Garden Heights. Many of the roses are dry and dying, but Maverick sets the bush in a new clay pot and waters it. He says they are a little damaged, but the new soil will help them “reset” and bloom once again.
The roses again symbolize the Carter family and their new chance to bloom, free of the cycle of drugs and crime in Garden Heights. Like the roses, Starr has been damaged in the sense that seeing Khalil’s death forever changed her. Her new surroundings, however, will help her and the entire Carter family move forward.
Maverick calls Starr “lil Black Panther” and points to the newspaper: a photo of Starr with a canister of tear gas in her hand is on the front page, along with the title “The Witness Fights Back.” Lisa says the news shows have all been discussing Starr and calling her brave. Of course, one infamous network said she put cops in danger.
Despite being quiet at first, Starr has now become a symbol for the fight against racial injustice. She recognizes she can never please everyone, but is no longer afraid of fighting for her beliefs.
Starr worries what people will think about them leaving Garden Heights instead of staying to fix it, but Maverick asserts they don’t have to live there to make a difference. Lisa says she will do extra shifts at the clinic. Later the family goes to see the remains of the store. Police block the entrance to Garden Heights, but when Maverick explains the situation they let them through without issue. Starr is pleased that she is able to remain calm throughout the whole encounter.
Starr no longer feels terror upon seeing police, suggesting that she is finally healing from her trauma. Maverick and Lisa reveal their continued commitment to the community they came from.
The streets of Garden Heights are filled with trash and broken glass, and many businesses have been reduced to “blackened frames.” They arrive at the store, which is completely destroyed. Mr. Lewis says that Maverick needs to stick around, because without a good store, more folks will leave Garden Heights. He then announces that he is retiring and wants Maverick to take over his own shop, so he can expand; the neighborhood needs more men like him.
Despite being home to many of the rioters, Garden Heights is in shambles following the riots. Mr. Lewis’s announcement grants hope that the Carters will be able to get back on their feet. With a new, bigger store, Maverick can continue to be a role model for the community even if he isn’t living there.
The Carters begin to clean up. Neighbors voice their support, shouting for them to keep their heads up and some, like Tim, even coming by to help pick up the rubble.
Garden Heights remains an extremely supportive and close community, even in the face of devastation.
Kenya arrives and says she heard her father started the fire. She also tells Starr that King beat Iesha so badly that she is in the hospital, but she will be okay. She says the police raided their house and needed to ask Iesha questions, causing Starr to realize that DeVante must have talked to the cops already.
Kenya remains in a precarious position as the child of King and Iesha. The fact that police have searched her house suggests King will soon be locked away for years.
Kenya then apologizes to Starr for always calling Seven “my” brother instead of “our” brother. She says she felt insecure about their relationship, fearing he really wanted to be with the Carters and felt ashamed of Kenya’s side of the family. She says it felt like Starr was ashamed of her too, having never introduced her to her Williamson friends. Starr seemed like she was ashamed of all of Garden Heights, in fact. Starr admits she may once have been ashamed, but is not anymore. Kenya asks what they will do next, and Starr says they will “rebuild.”
Despite her bravado in the beginning of the novel, Kenya here admits her deep insecurity surrounding her relationships with Starr and Seven. Now that Starr has proven herself no longer ashamed of Garden Heights, she and Kenya are able to connect more deeply. Starr has faith that having torn one broken neighborhood down, they can rebuild a better one.
Starr says the world called Khalil a thug, but she will remember him as a hazel-eyed boy with dimples. She will never forget how he died, and will fight for a better ending. She has realized that the fight for justice is about more than Khalil. It’s about her entire family and community. She then lists the names of real-world black individuals killed at the hands of police, acknowledging there are many more. She says it’s about Emmett Till. People in communities like Garden Heights are starting to fight back. She promises she will never forget, never give up, and never be quiet.
In the final moments of Thomas’s novel, Starr lists the names of actual victims of police brutality whose deaths have spurred nationwide protests against racism and the criminalization of black communities. Listing these names together asserts that none of these incidents were isolated, and that they must be understood as part of a larger system of oppression. At the same time, each name represents a unique individual whose life—like Khalil’s—mattered. Starr’s mention of Emmett Till reveals the deep roots of the injustice against which she vows to fight, and also circles back to her Tumblr post at the beginning of the novel. She has grown greatly as an activist since then, speaking up not only online but in the real world, and here recommits herself to using her voice to fight for racial justice.