Lisa reminds an extremely anxious Starr to breathe as they arrive at the police station for Starr’s interview with the detectives, Gomez and Wilkes. They pass Carlos’s desk, which Starr notices has pictures of her on it. Though Starr is terrified, Carlos says that she must talk to the detectives today if she wants the case to be handled properly. Lisa demands to go into the interview room with Starr. Knowing she is not alone, Starr feels ready to take on the interview. Upon entering the interview room, she repeats the teachings of “the talk” in her head and immediately feels her voice changing to ensure she does not sound “ghetto.” She remains hyper aware of her speech and gestures throughout the interview.
Family continues to be a major source of comfort and strength for Starr. Carlos reiterates the power of language in the fight for racial justice—silence will only serve those in power who want to maintain the status quo. Starr code switches once again upon talking to the detectives, knowing all too well that she will be taken more seriously if she acts in a more “white” manner.
Gomez and Wilkes ask Starr whether Khalil seemed “irate” after being pulled over by One-Fifteen, and assert that he was “hesitant” to get out of the car. Starr grows increasingly nervous, and feels as though the room is getting hotter. She recalls her father’s advice to not let them put words in her mouth, and counters the detectives’ assertions that Khalil was being difficult. The detectives continue to present Khalil as resistant to arrest in their questioning, and also ask Starr whether he was drinking, sold drugs, or was in a gang. Starr can no longer hold her tongue, and quips that Khalil “didn’t pull the trigger on himself.” Lisa asks why it seems like they are putting Starr and Khalil on trial instead of One-Fifteen. They leave the interview with the shared knowledge that “this is gonna be some bullshit.”
The fact that Gomez is a woman of color underscores that anyone can fall victim to racist thinking and that police brutality is generally a systemic rather than individual issue. In attempting to paint Khalil as having provoked his own death, the detectives are prioritizing One-Fifteen’s wellbeing and remaining more loyal to the police than to the search for justice. Despite Khalil’s obvious innocence, Starr and Lisa recognize that the world will do anything to make a black boy appear guilty of his own murder.