"Dear Martin" by Nic Stone, Chapter 1 - September 18

In Nic Stone's unflinching exploration of racism, high school student Justyce McAllister writes letters to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in order to process the violence and prejudice he encounters in his community.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1-September 18, Chapters 5-
9
, January 13-Chapter 14, Transcript from the evening news, January 26-Chapter 19, Chapter 20-Four Months Later
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Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. slump
    assume a drooping posture or carriage
    From where he’s standing across the street, Justyce can see her: Melo Taylor, ex-girlfriend, slumped over beside her Benz on the damp concrete of the FarmFresh parking lot.
  2. vulnerable
    capable of being wounded or hurt
    Despite Manny's assertion that Melo needs to “suffer some consequences for once," leaving her here all vulnerable doesn't seem like the right thing to do.
  3. catatonic
    characterized by unresponsiveness or lack of movement
    Now she’s gone catatonic.
  4. disrespect
    an expression of lack of regard
    First and foremost, please know I mean you no disrespect with the whole "Martin" thing.
  5. menacing
    threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments
    ...I apparently looked so menacing in my prep school hoodie, the cop who cuffed me called for backup.
  6. cuff
    confine or restrain with or as if with manacles
    ...I apparently looked so menacing in my prep school hoodie, the cop who cuffed me called for backup.
  7. infirmary
    a health facility where patients receive treatment
    Mrs. F didn't say a whole lot as she drove me to my dorm, but she made me promise to go by the infirmary and get some cold packs for my swollen wrists.
  8. hazy
    indistinct in outline
    The details are hazy since there weren't any witnesses, but what's clear is this cop shot an unarmed kid.
  9. conflicting
    in disagreement
    There’s a lot of conflicting information, so hard to know what to believe.
  10. scuffle
    an unceremonious and disorganized struggle
    A scuffle ensued (allegedly), and according to the police report, Shemar tried to grab the cop’s gun, so the cop shot Shemar in self-defense.
  11. ensue
    take place or happen afterward or as a result
    A scuffle ensued (allegedly), and according to the police report, Shemar tried to grab the cop’s gun, so the cop shot Shemar in self-defense.
  12. upstanding
    meriting respect or esteem
    Yeah, I grew up in a rough area, but I know l‘m a good dude, Martin. I thought if I made sure to be an upstanding member of society, I‘d be exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with, you know?
  13. plush
    characterized by extravagance and softness
    Justyce drops down onto the plush leather sofa in Manny’s basement and grabs the game controller from the giant ottoman in front of him.
  14. ottoman
    a low seat or a stool to rest the feet of a seated person
    Justyce drops down onto the plush leather sofa in Manny’s basement and grabs the game controller from the giant ottoman in front of him.
  15. pulsate
    move with or as if with a regular alternating motion
    It pushes into Justyce’s ears and bounces around in his head; he can feel it pulsating in his chest: BANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANG.
  16. avatar
    a new personification of a familiar idea or person
    Manny’s avatar switches weapons in quick succession, tossing everything he’s got at the enemy troops.
  17. supportive
    furnishing assistance
    Manny reaches out to give Jus’s shoulder a supportive squeeze, then pushes a few buttons to switch games.
  18. respective
    considered individually
    The guys choose their respective teams. Manny wins the coin toss and elects to receive.
  19. gape
    look with amazement
    His team kicks off, but Manny’s players don’t move because he’s still gaping at Justyce like he just confessed to murder.
  20. figuratively
    in a non-literal sense
    “...Considering how many times Melo has figuratively kicked you in yours—”
    “Shut up, man.”
  21. psychologist
    a specialist in the science of mental life
    “You know my mom’s a psychologist,” Manny says.
  22. indictment
    a formal document charging a person with some offense
    For one, yesterday a Nevada grand jury didn’t return an indictment on the cop who killed Shemar Carson.
  23. crow
    brag openly or dwell on with satisfaction
    Jared crows as he crosses the room to his seat.
  24. valedictorian
    the student with the best grades
    That would be Sarah-Jane Friedman. Lacrosse captain, future valedictorian, and Justyce’s debate partner since sophomore year.
  25. ratified
    formally approved and invested with legal authority
    Doc: Who can tell me the origin of this statement?
    Jared: United States Declaration of Independence, ratified July Fourth, 1776.
  26. smug
    marked by excessive complacency or self-satisfaction
    [Smiles smugly and crosses his arms.]
  27. context
    the set of facts or circumstances that surround a situation
    Now, when we use our twenty-first-century minds to examine the quote within its historical context, something about it isn’t quite right.
  28. inherent
    existing as an essential constituent or characteristic
    You don’t see anything odd about these guys in particular making a statement about the inherent “equality” of men?
  29. equality
    a state of being essentially equivalent
    You don’t see anything odd about these guys in particular making a statement about the inherent “ equality” of men?
  30. indigenous
    originating where it is found
    Well, these were the same guys who killed off the indigenous peoples and owned slaves.
  31. expound
    add details, as to an account or idea
    Doc: Expound if you will, Ms. Friedman.
  32. divisive
    dissenting with the majority opinion
    Jared: Well, anyone born here is a citizen with full rights. There are people who claim certain “injustices” are race-related, but if you ask me, they’re just being divisive.
  33. oblivious
    lacking conscious awareness of
    SJ: Sorry. It’s just—you’re completely oblivious to the struggles of anyone outside your little social group.
  34. disparity
    inequality or difference in some respect
    SJ: I’m serious. What about the economic disparities?
  35. proportional
    having a constant ratio
    What about the fact that proportionally speaking, there are more people of color living in poverty than white people?
  36. strut
    walk with a lofty proud gait
    Jared: Whatever. There are people on welfare strutting around in Air Jordans, so there’s obviously some footwear money coming from somewhere.
  37. immigrate
    come into a new country and change residency
    SJ: Sorry, Doc. As I was saying, my great-grandparents immigrated to this country from Poland after narrowly escaping Chelmno.
  38. asinine
    devoid of intelligence
    You’d spew a lot less asininity if you were willing to see beyond the eighteenth hole of your country club golf course.
  39. misdemeanor
    a crime less serious than a felony
    SJ: The charge on his record—which is public, so you can go look it up—was a misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
  40. thug
    an aggressive and violent young criminal
    I think the fact that her mom has to constantly defend all those thugs is starting to screw with her head.
  41. belated
    after the expected or usual time
    Manny: [Laughs belatedly.]
  42. impromptu
    without advance preparation
    I just got back to school after an impromptu trip to the hood.
  43. inalienable
    incapable of being repudiated or transferred to another
    "It's just like...I've been there my whole high school career, and I still feel like an outsider, you know? We were talking about the Declaration of Independence, and all I could think was how Shemar Carson was straight-up denied his ' inalienable rights.' It really bugged me out."
  44. candid
    openly straightforward and direct without secretiveness
    I'll be candid with you: sometimes it really bugs me that Manny spends so much time with those guys.
  45. blatant
    without any attempt at concealment; completely obvious
    I know he’s known them forever, and it's none of my business, but it’s hard to see my boy hang out with dudes who are blatantly disrespectful to our people.

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