give a solemn statement in a court of law
Ms. Ofrah arranged for me to do an interview with one of the national news programs today—exactly a week before I
testify before the grand jury next Monday.
elaborate, as of theories and hypotheses
“Millions of people around the world have heard the name Khalil Harris,” she says, “and they’ve
developed their own ideas of who he was. Who was he to you?”
a characteristic to be considered
“What do you think about people who focus on the not-so-good
aspect of him?” she asks. “The fact that he may have sold drugs?”
expose to a chance of loss or damage
My uncle’s a cop. I know not all cops are bad. And they
risk their lives, you know? I’m always scared for my uncle.
take to be the case or to be true
“You wish that more cops wouldn’t make assumptions about black people?” she clarifies.
“Right. This all happened because he”—I can’t say his name—“
assumed that we were up to no good. Because we’re black and because of where we live. We were just two kids, minding our business, you know? His assumption killed Khalil.
analyze by breaking down into components
The Saturday news programs discussed the interview too,
dissecting my words like I’m the president or something.
angered at something unjust or wrong
This one network is
outraged by my “disregard for cops.”
a group of people who differ from a larger group
Maya nudges my side. “Hey. We
minorities have to stick together, remember?”
a poor densely populated city district
Either I’m poor Starr who saw her friend get killed in a drive-by, or Starr the charity case who lives in the
the point or degree to which something extends
Being two different people is so exhausting. I’ve taught myself to speak with two different voices and only say certain things around certain people. I’ve mastered it. As much as I say I don’t have to choose which Starr I am with Chris, maybe without realizing it, I have to an
extent. Part of me feels like I can’t exist around people like him.
an institution set up to provide help to the needy
“He let Khalil come with us to Taco Bell. We were struggling, but Khalil was like our
charity case. Everybody knew his momma was a crackhead.”
worthy of or requiring trust; held accountable
“Look, you not
responsible for your sisters,” Daddy says, “but I’m
responsible for you. And I ain’t letting you pass up opportunities so you can do what two grown-ass people supposed to do.”
the act of showing great kindness toward the distressed
I ask for some
mercy, God. That’s all.
Mercy for Garden Heights, for Khalil’s family, for Starr. Help all of us through this.
a broken piece of a brittle artifact
shards glisten all over Momma’s good sofa. A brick sits in the middle of the floor.
an accidental event that seems to have been arranged
“It ain’t no damn
coincidence that somebody’s trying to scare us the night before she testifies to the grand jury,” Daddy says.
a course of events that will inevitably happen in the future
“‘We want freedom,”’ I say. “'We want the power to determine the
destiny of our black and oppressed communities.’”
the trait of extreme cruelty
“‘We want an immediate end to police
brutality,”’ I say, “‘and the murder of black people, other people of color, and oppressed people.’”
the goal intended to be attained
“And what did Brother Malcolm say is our
an anticipated outcome that guides your planned actions
By any means necessary didn’t keep Brother Malcolm from dying, possibly at the hands of his own people.
Intentions always look better on paper than in reality. The reality is, I may not make it to the courthouse in the morning.
having the requisite qualities or resources to meet a task
“Are you serious right now?” Uncle Carlos yells. “You really think gangbangers can provide
suggest in an indirect or covert way; give to understand
Hell no, I don’t wanna work with criminals, but don’t you ever
insinuate I don’t care about any of those kids!
the experience of thinking a new situation already occurred
We turn onto the street where the courthouse is, and I have one of those weird
a barrier set up by police to stop traffic on a street
News vans and trucks are across the street from the courthouse, and police
barricades separate them from everybody else.
state of violent mental agitation
Two traffic lanes separate the courthouse from the media
frenzy, but I swear they’re a world away.
of or relating to religious officials
Hundreds of people quietly kneel on the courthouse lawn. Men and women in
clerical collars stand at the front of the crowd, their heads bowed.
the group following and attending to some important person
She looks at my
entourage. “I’m sorry, but only Starr’s parents are allowed to watch in the TV room.”
a person who is member of one's class or profession
One of Ms. Monroe’s
colleagues swears me in, and I promise on the Bible to tell the truth.
a body of citizens sworn to give a verdict in a court of law
It’s been over two weeks since I talked to the grand
jury, and now we’re waiting for their decision, which is similar to waiting for a meteor to hit.
discriminatory on the basis of skin color
“You even accused me of being
“But you have said and done some
acknowledge faults or shortcomings or failing
apologizing because it was only a joke!” she shouts. “It doesn’t make me a racist.
after an unspecified period of time or a long delay
“He was a drug dealer and a gangbanger,” Hailey says. “Somebody was gonna kill him
the act of putting up with something
All four of us have been sentenced to three days’ suspension, despite Williamson’s zero-tolerance policy.
a temporary debarment from a privilege or position
Dr. Davis told him, “Given the circumstances”—and he looked straight at me—“
suspension will suffice.”
accuse formally of a crime
“But if they decide not to
indict, y’all gotta tell these li’l dudes not to burn this neighborhood down.”
excuse, overlook, or make allowances for
If you can’t translate Parentish, this is what they really said:
Momma: I don’t
condone what you did, and I’m not saying it’s okay, but I probably would’ve done it too.
be incompatible; be or come into conflict
I should be used to my two worlds
colliding, but I never know which Starr I should be. I can use some slang, but not too much slang, some attitude, but not too much attitude, so I’m not a “sassy black girl.” I have to watch what I say and how I say it, but I can’t sound “white.”
any disturbance in the working of an organ or body part
Embarrassing dancing and
dysfunction aside, my family’s not so bad.
socially uncomfortable; unsure and constrained in manner
This is the most
awkward situation ever—my friend’s dad possibly wants to kill me.
of or relating to the arts and manners that a group favors
Our family, Kenya, DeVante, and Layla—basically, all the black people—sing the Stevie Wonder version of “Happy Birthday.” Maya seems to know it. A lot of Seven’s friends look lost. Chris does too. These
cultural differences are crazy sometimes.
a document certifying the completion of a course of study
I’m proud of you, man. Like I told you, I never got a
diploma. A lot of young brothers don’t get theirs. And where we come from, a lot of them don’t make it to eighteen.