Starr overhears her parents arguing with Carlos, who is Lisa’s brother and a detective, about Khalil’s shooting. Carlos reveals that he is on the same force as One-Fifteen and defends his colleague’s actions, saying Maverick always makes thing “about race” and questioning why Starr was in the car with a “drug dealer.” Maverick argues that the officer only assumed Khalil was a “thug” because he was black. Carlos says Lisa needs to move away from the “poisonous” Garden Heights — something Maverick refuses to ever do.
Carlos complicates the notion that all police officers are bad, though he, too, has succumbed to rationalizing Khalil’s death as his own fault. Lisa and Maverick will argue about leaving Garden Heights throughout the novel; Maverick feels to leave would be to betray the community, and that they must stay to help it.
Starr enters the room and Carlos asks if she would be willing to talk to some detectives. Starr is scared of facing the police again but, with Carlos’s assurance that it will help Khalil, she agrees.
Starr remains hesitant to speak up, while beginning to understand the power her voice can have in the fight for justice for Khalil.
Starr thinks the real reason her father and uncle fight is because of Maverick’s insecurity and guilt about not being there for part of his children’s lives: Carlos took care of Starr, Seven, and Lisa while Maverick was in prison for three years, and is a surrogate father to Starr. Maverick tells his daughter that he witnessed people being shot and killed in front of him as well, and that he named her Starr because she was his “light in the darkness.” He tells her to hold her own when speaking to the detectives, and to remember that she did nothing wrong.
Maverick complicates stereotypes about former felons; ironically, he went to prison to leave the world of crime, and cares about his family just as much as Carlos, a man on the opposite side of the law, does. Maverick’s insecurity around Carlos leads to tension in their relationship.
On Sunday morning Starr and her parents visit Mrs. Rosalie, Khalil’s grandmother who also helped care for Lisa when she got pregnant with Starr. Starr is flooded with memories of Khalil upon entering Mrs. Rosalie’s house, and reminisces about all the games they played together as children.
Starr and Khalil’s connection is deepened, making the different paths they took all the more poignant. Starr was able to escape Garden Heights and survive, while Khalil, who was left behind, did not.
Tammy, Khalil’s well-to-do aunt, is at the house as well. She and Lisa were very close when Starr was little, and Khalil used to say he wished Tammy were his mother instead of Brenda. Tammy says they do not know where Brenda is, and she hopes Khalil’s death will finally force Brenda to stop taking drugs.
Brenda’s absence underscores how difficult Khalil’s life must have been before his death. The fact that he sold drugs despite his mother being an addict further reflects the novel’s theme of the cycle of poverty and crime.
Mrs. Rosalie tells Starr that she was the best friend Khalil ever had, which makes Starr feel at once heartbroken and guilty for having lost touch with so much of Garden Heights. Mrs. Rosalie confirms that Khalil was selling drugs, but also says he wanted to talk to Maverick about how to get out of the game. Starr worries that the public will only see Khalil as a drug dealer, even though “he was so much more than that.” She looks around at Khalil’s family and notes that regardless of what he did, he mattered to them. Maverick and Lisa then give Mrs. Rosalie money to pay for Khalil’s funeral.
Starr understands that white society flattens black identity and will be all too quick to define Khalil in a way that conforms with prejudiced assumptions about black people. Despite its danger, Garden Heights is clearly home to many people, like Lisa and Maverick, who carry deep love for and appreciation of their neighbors.