the central area in a building, open to the sky
Folks are quiet as hell. Well, whispering really, in little huddles in the halls and the
atrium like they’re discussing plays during a basketball game.
a cultural idea or behavior passed from person to person
Somebody’s gonna turn Mr. Lewis into a
meme. He’s making a fool out of himself and doesn’t even know it.
action taken in return for an injury or offense
“Do you think that it was
retaliation for the Khalil Harris case?” the reporter asks.
an aggressive and violent young criminal
thugs been terrorizing Garden Heights for years, how they gon’ get mad now?
an order that after a certain time activities are prohibited
“Do you think that the
curfew the mayor announced today will prevent incidents like this?” the reporter asks Mr. Lewis.
Two officers get out. One black, one white. Their hands
linger too close to the guns at their waists.
squeeze together tightly
Daddy looks at the sky and blinks the way I do when I don’t wanna cry. He
clenches and unclenches his hands.
put in motion
Daddy once told me there’s a rage passed down to every black man from his ancestors, born the moment they couldn’t stop the slave masters from hurting their families. Daddy also said there’s nothing more dangerous than when that rage is
argue or speak in justification of
The Khalil I know would’ve jumped on TV in a hot second and told everybody what happened that night if it meant
defending you. And you can’t do the same for him.
a person who shows fear or timidity
Here you are, with a chance to help change what happens in our whole neighborhood, and you staying quiet. Like a
act in disregard of laws, rules, contracts, or promises
A voice booms from the armored vehicle, “All persons found
violating the curfew will be subject to arrest.”
a person who professes beliefs that he or she does not hold
Some reggae chants meet me in the hall, followed by Kendrick Lamar rapping about being a
carefully thought out in advance
“It seemed Mr. Lewis impulsively spoke out in anger and frustration. In a case like Khalil’s, I would much rather that you spoke out in a more
deliberate and planned way.”
return with an undesired effect
Sometimes these kinds of things
backfire. And at the end of the day, the court of public opinion has no say in this. The grand jury does.
means by which an alleged matter is established or disproved
If they see enough
evidence, which they should, Officer Cruise will be charged and tried.
have importance or weight
I’ll do whatever I can to make sure you’re heard, Starr. Because just like Khalil and Natasha
matter and your voice
showing a fighting disposition
It’s gonna take a hell of a lotta boldness to put myself out there for Khalil. Like “I once told my
militant black daddy about my white boyfriend” kinda boldness.
not divided or shared with others
“It’s not like this kinda stuff is
exclusive to black people, you know? The reasoning may be different, but that’s about it. Your parents don’t have a problem with us dating?”
an episode that is turbulent or highly emotional
We sit at the counter, and I listen to his play-by-play of school today. Nobody walked out because the police were there, waiting for any
shape or influence; give direction to
“Please! Dude wearing J’s. White boys wear Converse and Vans, not no J’s unless they trying to be black.”
Really? “My bad. I didn’t know shoes
determined somebody’s race.”
fail to meet the hopes or expectations of
I swear to God whenever I think about Khalil falling into that life, it’s like watching him die all over again. Yeah, Khalil matters and not the stuff he did, but I can’t lie and say it doesn’t bother me or it’s not
disappointing. He knew better.
declare to be true or accept the reality of
“He tried to get Khalil to join, but Khalil said nah. Then a cop killed him, so you know, all the homies riding for him now. King not ’bout to
admit that Khalil turned him down. So he got folks thinking that Khalil repped King Lords.”
refuse to recognize or acknowledge
This is worse than
denying him. I thought the worst of him. Like everybody else.
an event resulting in great loss and misfortune
Starr, I’m sorry for protesting. It was stupid to use a
tragedy just to get out of class.
the ultimate agency predetermining the course of events
He’s been a cop for as long as Khalil was alive, and I wonder if in some sick twist of
fate Khalil was only born for this man to kill.
known widely and usually unfavorably
“A majority of those years have been spent serving in Garden Heights,” the voice-over continues, “a neighborhood
notorious for gangs and drug dealers.”
move about aimlessly or without any destination
I tense as footage of my neighborhood, my home, is shown. It’s like they picked the worst parts—the drug addicts
roaming the streets, the broken-down Cedar Grove projects, gangbangers flashing signs, bodies on the sidewalks with white sheets over them.
seemingly; as far as one can tell
Apparently, Brian pulled the kid over ’cause he had a broken taillight and was speeding.”
take a brief look at
“And they kept
glancing at each other, like they were up to something. Brian says that’s when he got scared, ’cause they could’ve taken him down if they teamed up.”
shake with fast, tremulous movements
quiver. My body shakes. He covers his mouth to hold back a sob. I cover mine to keep from puking.
deep and harsh sounding as if from shouting or emotion
“What’s wrong with saying his life matters too?”
“His life always matters more!” My voice is
gruff, and my throat is tight. “That’s the problem!”
defend, explain, or make excuses for by reasoning
“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.”
money or goods or services owed by one person to another
“Why he sold drugs. He was trying to help Ms. Brenda pay a
debt to King.”
tenaciously unwilling to yield
“Couldn’t have stopped him. Khalil was almost as
stubborn as you. I know you cared about him a lot, even as more than a friend, but you can’t blame yourself for this.”
increase in size, volume or significance
“Baby, look. You’re grieving, okay? That can
amplify your emotions and make you feel things you haven’t felt in a long time. Even if you do have feelings for Khalil, there’s nothing wrong with that.”
someone injured or killed in a military engagement
We hate when they fight because we always get stuck in the middle of their wars. Our appetites are the greatest
casualty. If Momma’s mad and not cooking, we have to eat Daddy’s struggle meals, like spaghetti with ketchup and hot dogs in it.
look with amazement
Daddy helps me to Momma’s car, and people in the halls
gawk. I bet they know I’m the witness from my teary, snotty face, and are probably giving me a new name—Poor Thing.
grossly irreverent toward what is held to be sacred
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I don’t know if Daddy stands a chance against King. Daddy isn’t skinny or short, but compared to King, who’s pure muscle at six feet, he looks tiny. It’s damn near
blasphemous to think like that though.
busy or energetic activity
They already saying Khalil sold drugs. That could mean problems for anybody who may have been involved in his
hustle. So people gotta be careful when they talking to the DA. Wouldn’t want them to be in danger ’cause they ran their mouth.
a servile or fawning dependent
He gets in his BMW. His
minions follow, and he peels out, leaving the truth behind.