The hairbrush represents both the blinding power and senselessness of racism. One-Fifteen alleges that he shot Khalil because he mistook his hairbrush for a gun. Maverick says One-Fifteen made this assumption not simply because the hairbrush handle was “black enough” to have looked like a gun, but because Khalil himself was “black enough” to have been carrying one; racist assumptions about the criminality of black youth contributed to One-Fifteen seeing a weapon where there was none. The public latches on to this fact, leading to the chant of “a hairbrush is not a gun” in the riots following the indictment verdict. The fact that an object meant for grooming contributes to Khalil’s death further suggests that black individuals can do everything to adhere to societal expectations of propriety and still be targeted simply because of the color of their skin.
Khalil’s Hairbrush Quotes in The Hate U Give
“That's the so-called gun,” Ms. Ofrah explains. “Officer Cruise claims he saw it in the car door, and he assumed Khalil was reaching for it. The handle was thick enough, black enough, for him to assume it was a gun.”
“And Khalil was black enough,” Daddy adds.
A hairbrush. Khalil died over a fucking hairbrush.
“I knew that boy. Watched him grow up with you. He was more than any bad decision he made,” he says. “I hate that I let myself fall into that mind-set of trying to rationalize his death. And at the end of the day, you don’t kill someone for opening a car door. If you do, you shouldn't be a cop.”