It is the day of Khalil’s funeral. The parking lot is packed when the Carters arrive, and Starr sees multiple people dressed in “RIP Khalil” t-shirts. The Carters wear suits and dresses. Starr feels uncomfortable in Christ Temple, which the family stopped attending years ago in favor of a more “diverse” church, where the service is led by a “white guy with a guitar.”
Khalil’s death is already sparking unrest throughout Garden Heights, and the t-shirts suggest that his name will become part of a larger movement against injustice. The fact that Starr attends a different (and whiter) church further evidences her distance from the community.
Pastor Eldridge greets the family and looks at Starr with pity. Starr feels her legs trembling and a wave of nausea as her family gets in line to approach Khalil’s open casket. She counts down the remaining people in front of her with increasing dread, until finally the moment arrives. The Khalil inside looks like a mannequin of himself, lacking the spark and dimples she knew and loved. Starr flashes back to seeing Natasha in her casket years before, remembering her horrified screams for her friend to wake up.
Khalil’s open casket echoes the photograph of Emmett Till that Starr posted on her Tumblr blog, positioning Khalil as another catalyst in the fight against racial injustice. Starr’s flashback to Natasha reiterates the reality of gun violence in Garden Heights and how much tragedy she has already been forced to live through.
A woman wearing one of the “RIP Khalil” t-shirt and exhibiting an air of authority directs people to their seats. Starr feels like a “phony” when her family is seated in the front row of the church, a place of honor for Khalil’s friends. She stares at the flower arrangements and photos of Khalil as she knew him, as the young boy who used to play with her and Natasha. Pastor Eldridge leads a service for Khalil, framing the day as one of joy. The choir sings and nearly everyone except for Starr joins in. Friends of Khalil’s whom Starr has never met go to the front of the church to tell stories about him that Starr has never heard. She feels even more unworthy of her seat.
Starr continues to feel as though she has abandoned Garden Heights and Khalil, and that she is not worthy of speaking on his behalf. Her disconnect from the rest of the church reflects how much she has distanced herself from the community and how hesitant she remains to associate with it—and also to act like she is still a part of it in this time of crisis.
The authoritative woman who led them to their seats then gets up to addresses the church. She introduces herself as April Ofrah with Just Us for Justice, an organization calling for police accountability. She tells the church that the police have no intention of arresting One-Fifteen, and that Khalil was unarmed at the time of his death. This latter statement in particular causes unrest throughout the church; confused murmurs are quickly replaced with people shouting that “this is bullshit.” Ofrah then invites people to join a march past the police station after the ceremony.
The existence of Just Us for Justice asserts that Garden Heights has been aware of and fighting against racial injustice for some time, and places Khalil’s death in the larger context of violence against black communities. The reveal that he was unarmed will be a major factor behind the coming protests and riots.
King, Iesha, and a group of King Lords suddenly enter from the back of the church. Iesha wears heavy makeup and a skimpy black dress, and Starr can sense the tension between her parents in that moment. Iesha, a prostitute, is the “Achilles heel” of their marriage; Seven is the result of a “for-hire” session between her and Maverick.
Thomas complicates Lisa and Maverick’s relationship, which to this point has been portrayed as deeply loving. The bombastic entrance and appearance of King and Iesha makes them appear insensitive and villainous.
The group walks to the front of the church and one of the King Lords lays a gray bandana across Khalil’s chest. A furious Mrs. Rosalie snatches the bandana and throws it back at King, calling him a demon and screaming for them all to leave. Iesha calls Mrs. Rosalie an “old hag,” and reveals that King offered to pay for the funeral. Mrs. Rosalie says she refused the “filthy money” and scorns Iesha for entering a church. The King Lords leave.
The bandana is the King Lords’ way of “claiming” a member, and signals to the community that Khalil was in the gang—yet Khalil can no longer speak for himself to either support or oppose such a claim, and the notion that he was in a gang will surely hurt his case in court and the media. Mrs. Rosalie’s anger reflects that many in Garden Heights do not approve of King and want to rid their neighborhood of gang influence.
Starr is appalled to think that Khalil could have become a King Lord, knowing how much pain and violence gangs and drugs have wreaked on Garden Heights. She is also confused; though King Lords “crown their fallen comrades” with a gray bandana, the inside of his car was green — the color of the Garden Disciples. Starr feels even more guilt for abandoning Khalil when he was alive, positing that she could have talked him out of joining a gang. She admits to herself that Khalil was her first crush, as well as one of the best friends she ever had, no matter how little they saw each other.
The mention of Khalil’s car suggests all may not be as it seems regarding his gang affiliation. Though still upset, Starr now exhibits a firmer belief in her ability to make a difference in Garden Heights and finally allows herself to acknowledge the deep connection she had with Khalil—but this also makes her alleged “betrayal” seem all the more painful.
After the funeral, protestors outside of the church hold signs demanding “Justice for Khalil”, “Am I Next?”, and “Enough Is Enough.” News vans have arrived as well. Maverick says he wants Seven and Sekani to be a part of the march, but Lisa insists on taking Starr home. April Ofrah approaches the Carters and offers to help Starr with legal representation. She asserts that the case is about to get national media attention, and she wants to help protect Starr’s privacy.
It is becoming increasingly clear that outrage over Khalil’s death will only grow stronger. Maverick is committed to educating his children about fighting injustice. April Ofrah’s offer suggests that Starr’s world is about to be turned upside down, and she won’t be able to stay quiet for much longer.