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Table of Contents
- Video Summaries of All American Boys
- 1-Page Summary of All American Boys
- Full Summary of All American Boys
- Overall Summary
- 1. Friday: Rashad
- 2. Friday: Quinn
- 3. Saturday: Rashad
- 4. Saturday: Quinn
- 5. Sunday: Rashad
- 6. Sunday: Quinn
- 7. Monday: Quinn
- 8. Monday: Rashad
- 9. Tuesday: Quinn
- 10. Tuesday: Rashad
- 11. Wednesday: Quinn
- 12. Wednesday: Rashad
- 13. Thursday: Quinn
- 14. Thursday: Rashad
- 15. Friday: Quinn
- 16. Friday: Rashad
- 17. Friday: Quinn and Rashad
Video Summaries of All American Boys
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1-Page Summary of All American Boys
All American Boys is a novel that tells the story of two high school students, Rashad and Quinn. The book alternates between their perspectives as it tells the story of an incident with police brutality in Illinois. Although they never meet in person, their lives intersect because of this event.
The novel begins on a Friday afternoon. Rashad Butler, an African-American high school student, changes out of his JROTC uniform after school. He’s ready to have fun for the night with his friends English Jones, Shannon Pushcart and Carlos Greene at Jill’s party. However, everything changes when he experiences police brutality at Jerry’s Corner Mart.
In Jerry’s, Rashad is picking out chips when he sets his duffel bag down to retrieve his cell phone. A female customer backs up and trips over Rashad, causing him to drop the chips. The store owner sees the open duffel and thinks Rashad is trying to steal the chips, while the police officer guarding the store thinks Rashad is attacking her. Without giving Rashad a chance to explain himself, they pull him outside where an officer beats him for not following orders. Thinking that he was going to die if he didn’t move out of harm’s way quickly enough, he tried moving away from being beaten but was told by another officer that it looked like resistance and beat him even harder than before. An ambulance arrives on scene as all this happens with a crowd gathering around watching what happened unfold in front of them.
Quinn Collins, a Caucasian high school senior and basketball player, is also planning on attending Jill’s party. Quinn and two of his friends are buying beer at Jerry’s when they witness Rashad being beaten by the police. This policeman happens to be Guzzo Galluzzo’s brother. They hurry away before they can be spotted because it would look bad if anyone saw them there.
It’s Saturday morning, and Rashad is in the hospital with a broken nose and fractured ribs. His parents are there too. They’re both worried about him, but his father is more sympathetic to what happened than his mother. Meanwhile, Rashad learns that he has internal bleeding and must stay in the hospital for a few days.
On Sunday morning, Spoony visits Rashad to show him that he’s on the news. Spoony reveals that he and his girlfriend found a video of the beating online and sent it to the news station. The name of the officer who beat Rashad is also revealed: Paul Galluzzo.
On Sunday afternoon, Quinn and his mother go to the Galluzzos’ barbecue where Paul is grilling. Quinn has always viewed Paul as an older brother because he taught him basketball and offered support after Quinn’s father died in Afghanistan. After witnessing the extreme act of violence, though, Quinn isn’t sure what to think of Paul anymore. He then talks with Jill who tells him that she is questioning Paul’s actions like he is while others are supporting him without hesitation.
On Monday, Quinn returns to school and notices that everyone is talking about the beating of Rashad. During basketball practice, the coach urges everyone to leave their issues off the court and play as one team. As they continue playing, Quinn begins to realize that it’s not possible for them all to work together because he has been contributing unconsciously to racism in American society.
In the hospital, Rashad draws a picture of what happened to him. His friends visit him after school and talk about it. Carlos says that he’s going to do something about it because he is an artist who paints graffiti on walls. The next day, Quinn sees a huge graffiti tag across the front sidewalk of the school that reads “Rashad Is Absent Again Today” as promised by Carlos, his friend and fellow artist who painted it in protest against racism at their school. This makes Quinn upset so after basketball practice with English (his best friend), he decides that this has brought up some deeper questions for him regarding racism in society which cannot be ignored anymore.
Spoony showed Rashad pictures of Carlos’s graffiti, as well as other people who copied it. He also told the author about their protest plans for Friday afternoon. Rashad was nervous because he didn’t know if they should proceed with the plan or not. However, by talking to his father and telling him what was going on, he realized that things were bigger than just him and his friends; they had to make a change in society.
On Thursday, Quinn hears about the protest and wears a shirt that reads “I’M MARCHING” on the front and “ARE YOU?” on the back. His teacher disapproves of his shirt, believing that he has abandoned Paul after all Paul has done for him. The teacher blindsides Quinn after basketball practice by punching him twice before telling him to never speak with him again. This motivates Quinn even more to attend the protest.
On Thursday, Rashad’s internal bleeding stops. He is released from the hospital and leaves his drawing of the beating as a gift for the young nurse he has connected with. The next day, Rashad sees that he’s being discussed on social media using #RashadIsAbsentAgainToday. With friends and family members, he spends time preparing for a protest march scheduled to take place later that day.
On Friday, Quinn calls the police to report witnessing Rashad’s beating. This statement proves that he is taking responsibility for what happened at the high school and shows his willingness to help with the protest. As a result of this call, Quinn becomes even more nervous about protesting but continues with Jill anyway because he knows it’s right. The protesters continue marching throughout this part of their demonstration, which ends up being very successful in getting attention from citizens and local media. Eventually everyone gathers together at Police Plaza where they do a die-in to show how many people have been killed as well as read out names of those individuals who have been killed by policemen over time.
The book ends with a brief chapter alternating between Rashad’s and Quinn’s points of view, as they lie on the ground for the die-in. The narration zooms out to a third-person view of the protest, ending with the suggestion that by connecting like Rashad and Quinn have here there is hope for positive change in society.
Full Summary of All American Boys
It is Friday, and Rashad (the main character of the story) is at ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) practice. He doesn’t enjoy it but does it because his dad believes that joining the army is the best thing for a black American boy to do. His father was in the army, then police force before getting a job in an office. His brother Spoony works for UPS and lives with his girlfriend Berry in their own apartment. As soon as practice ends, he runs to change out of his green uniform into more casual clothes so he can go to Jill’s party tonight with friends English Jones, Shannon Pushcart and Carlos Greene who are also standing around talking about going to this party tonight
Carlos is a senior in high school. He tries out for the basketball team every year, but he never makes it. Carlos also enjoys being a graffiti artist and has been doing so since he was younger. Rashad hopes to hook up with Tiffany Watts at the party they are going to later that night because she is one of his favorite girls in his grade. Before heading off to the party, Rashad needs money from Spoony so that he can get something to eat before meeting up with Tiffany at her house after picking her up from work (she works as a waitress). To get some money, Rashad decides to stop by Jerry’s convenience store on his way home from school and buys some snacks there instead of getting them at home where his parents might see him and ask why he didn’t buy anything earlier when he went shopping with them earlier in the day. However, when Rashad goes into Jerry’s, someone accidentally bumps into him and knocks over their beer bottle; it smashes all over the floor. The clerk immediately accuses Rashad of trying to steal it while another security guard comes over as well accusing him of stealing other items such as chips or candy bars which were also knocked down during this incident. They proceed to physically attack him even though Katie claims that she bumped into him by accident because she wasn’t looking where she was going due to having lost track of time while talking on her cell phone about how much fun last weekend’s party was; however, no one believes her story despite evidence showing otherwise (the spilled bottles) because they assume that anyone who would be caught dead wearing gang colors like red would have stolen everything anyway.
The next chapter is narrated by Quinn, who has to drop his youngest brother Willy at the Cambis’ house. Quinn’s father was killed in Afghanistan, and he feels pressure to live up to that reputation. His mother works 12-hour night shifts at Uline Warehouse. He loves their neighborhood on the West Side but it is said to be “on the decline.” He has a crush on Jill, who is Guzzo’s cousin.
Quinn and his friends always get alcohol from Jerry’s. They ask people on the street to buy it for them, or they steal it from Jerry’s sometimes. Quinn sees Paul Guzzo beat up Rashad when he goes to get alcohol at Jerry’s. He runs back to tell Guzzo and Dwyer that they need to run before the police come.
Rashad is in the hospital because he was attacked. He has a broken nose and will have to appear in court for several misdemeanors. When his parents arrive, they are skeptical of Rashad’s story, but Spoony, who arrived at the same time as Rashad’s parents does not doubt his claim. Dr Barnes tells them that it is very possible that some internal bleeding may occur and advise him to stay in hospital for several days so they can monitor him if this happens.
Meanwhile, Quinn is distracted at Jill’s party and doesn’t talk to her. He has a bad night sleep afterwards as he drinks his mother’s bourbon. The next day, Ma discovers the flask and scolds him for drinking while she was away on vacation. She tells him to go watch Willy play soccer later that day, which he does obediently. Later that day, Guzzo texts Quinn inviting him over for a barbeque at his house the next day with some of their friends. After taking Willy out for pizza with Jill (who mentions being invited to this barbeque), they notice four guys fighting in line there and call the police when it gets violent enough that they have to break it up themselves. They then agree about something strange going on with this barbeque before heading home together after eating dinner at Mother’s restaurant where they ran into each other earlier in the evening without realizing it until just now by coincidence since neither had realized who was sitting across from them or even noticed anyone else around them besides each other during their conversation all evening long while both were engaged in an intriguing conversation about life issues like marriage, divorce, family problems etc..
On Sunday, Rashad wakes up in the hospital. He’s alone except for a nurse who asks him to blow into an incentive spirometer to check his lungs. His parents and pastor arrive soon after, and they pray together. David is furious with Spoony when he learns that he sent the video of Rashad’s arrest to a news network. Rashad charges his phone for the first time since the incident, and sees messages from friends asking if he’s okay; he replies that he is fine. The family watches TV together briefly—until another news item about Rashad airs again on TV.
Quinn is nervous about going to the Galluzo’s family barbeque. He talks to Jill, who reveals that Rashad was the boy Paul injured. Quinn tells her what he saw and apologizes for not telling anyone sooner. Paul serves up burgers, and everyone watches the game together. Quinn wanders away from them but overhears a conversation between Jill and her mom about how they can’t believe it was Paul who hurt Rashad because he’s so nice otherwise. The news story comes on TV again, this time with footage of Paul at his press conference where he says that he needs their support in these hard times. Then someone quickly turns off the TV before another person invites Quinn to play basketball with him and some other people there; however, Quinn gets frustrated very easily during games like this one so he leaves early without playing any ball or even saying goodbye to anyone else there besides Jill first.
On Monday, everyone at school is talking about Rashad and the video clip that was shown on the news. Quinn refuses to watch it, but he wishes he could erase his entire encounter with Rashad from his mind. He notices that English is avoiding him, but Jill greets him by his locker after lunch and they discuss Rashad’s situation. Suddenly Quinn remembers a time when Paul beat up Marc Blair for having bullied Quinn in the past. As a result of this memory, Quinn feels guilty because he thinks racism can take form as an irrational fear of black people. In class later in Ms.”Webber
Rashad, who has been into art since childhood, thinks about the work of the Harlem Renaissance painter Aaron Douglas. Lying in his hospital bed, he begins drawing a scene from Jerry’s and Clarissa enters to compliment him on his artwork. Rashad goes down to the hospital gift shop where he strikes up a conversation with Shirley Fitzgerald, an elderly woman who volunteers there. Later that afternoon Carlos and English visit Rashad at the hospital along with Shannon (Paul Guzzo’s older brother). The boys joke around for awhile but then English explains what happened between Paul Guzzo and himself while Rashad explains exactly what happened as well. Carlos promises to “do something” though Rashad encourages him not to get involved because it could cause more problems than solve them. After they leave Rashad unplugs the TV in a sudden fit of rage due to how helpless he feels being stuck in this situation unable to do anything about it or even be there for his friend when needed most.
Every Tuesday, students at Springfield High arrive to see a message about Rashad on the sidewalk. At lunch, only white students are sitting inside the cafeteria. Jill and Quinn consider sitting outside but decide to sit with Guzzo and Dwyer instead. Guzzo is angry because of what happened at his barbeque and upset that Quinn left early without saying goodbye. He also brings up Rashad’s name again which makes Jill uneasy since she doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. Coach Carney told them not to think about it so they don’t get distracted from their game against Eastside Prep School next week in the championship tournament for State Playoffs; if they lose, they won’t make it past district finals either way so there’s no point worrying about anything else except winning this one last game against Eastside Prep School. At practice later that day, Quinn gets into an argument with English followed by another one with Guzzo. That evening when he comes home, he decides not to “walk away” from the problem any longer like everyone else does ; he calls Jill and tells her how much racism bothers him even though people tell him not to take things personally because he has more privilege than most black people do.
Rashad is listening to the TV when Jessica comes in. She’s upset, and she asks him why he did it. Spoony and Berry show up with a picture of the graffiti outside Springfield High School, which has become a hashtag on Twitter. Rashad says that this isn’t about him anymore; it’s bigger than just one person or one incident—it’s about an entire movement protesting police racism.
On Wednesday, Quinn runs into Paul on the street. He tries to get away but Paul won’t let him. He knows that Quinn was at Jerry’s when he arrested Rashad and insists that Rashad was stealing from the store and that Paul was only trying to protect another woman in the store. At school, kids are handing out flyers about a protest against police brutality. During class, Mrs Tracey starts crying while reading a story aloud, and without being asked her students take turns reading it themselves until she finishes. At practice for football games, Coach reminds them of their future as athletes and they need to think of themselves as one team instead of individual players fighting each other during games because they’re not going to be able to play together forever if they don’t learn how now before it’s too late
Rashad’s father sends him a letter with the ROTC creed, but Rashad has nightmares about Jerry. In the morning, David arrives and tells Rashad that he shot and paralyzed Darnell Shackleford while serving as a police officer. He explains that Darnell was reaching for his inhaler when he thought Darnell was going to reach for a gun. The white man had been robbing him, not the other way around. Rashad is upset by this revelation and wants to go to the protest after all.
Rashad goes to see Mrs. Fitzgerald and finds her with another woman, Katie Lansing. Katie apologizes for getting involved in the situation at Jerry’s, but Rashad asks her to testify anyway. After she leaves, Mrs. Fitzgerald admits that she was too scared to get involved during the civil rights movement because she had a lot of white customers who would have stopped coming if they knew about her views on race relations. She tells Rashad he should go to the protest in front of Jerry’s later today.
On Thursday, Quinn wakes up early and can’t sleep. He thinks about going to the march on Friday and decides to wear a t-shirt that says “I’m marching” on the front and “Are you?” on the back. This causes mixed reactions at school, but Guzzo elbows him in the face during practice. When he punches Quinn afterward, he claims it was an accident, but later punches him again after practice is over. That night at dinner with his family, Ma forbids Quinn from going to the march because she’s worried something might happen to him or that he’ll get hurt if nothing else. They fight about this issue until they hug each other and make up for their differences of opinion regarding whether or not he should go.
On Wednesday, Rashad’s girlfriend brought a lawyer to the hospital so she could speak with him. The next morning, Dr. Barnes told Rashad that he was getting released from the hospital. Later that day, English texted Rashad saying that school is intense and everyone has picked sides on the situation. When he got home, he saw pictures of himself online along with debates about his case #RashadIsAbsentAgainToday. He then decided to go on Facebook and found out more information about what happened at school while he was in the hospital. That evening, Jessica ordered pizza for them all and they had friends over including Spoony who suggested holding a protest or doing a die-in as part of their demonstration against police brutality.
On Friday morning, Quinn calls the police about Rashad. Later, he sees military units descending on Springfield High. He’s terrified but an encouraging speech from Jill helps him reaffirm his commitment to the protest after school. After a die-in at school, Quinn joins in with others who have gathered to read out names of black people killed by the police and thanks God that Rashad wasn’t one of them.
Rashad gets no sleep the night before the protest because he’s too excited. He can’t wait to take part in a peaceful demonstration against police brutality. The next morning, his girlfriend Jessica tells him that she was up at night and saw David standing near Rashad’s bedroom door, staring into his room. When they arrive at the protest, Rashad is shocked to see so many people there who are close friends of his: Tiffany, Mr Fisher (his ROTC teacher), Mrs Tracey (the mother of one of his best friends), all three members of the ROTC program and Pastor Johnson from church. Even more surprising is seeing that even Clarissa showed up! During a die-in where Berry shouts out names of black people killed by police officers, tears stream down Rashad’s face as he thinks about Paul hitting him in the nose with a rock last year.
The final chapter is narrated by Quinn and Rashad. They lock eyes, which means that Quinn wants Rashad to know that he sees him. It also means that Rashad wants the world to know that he’s “present.”
1. Friday: Rashad
Rashad is excited to get out of his ROTC uniform and go party. Rashad doesn’t like ROTC, but he does it because his father wants him to. David was in the military for eight years and now works at an office job. He thinks that a career in the military gives discipline, free education, and opportunities to travel around the world. He also asked Spoony (Rashad’s older brother) if he wanted to join the military; Spoony said no and now works at UPS (United Parcel Service).
Rashad is in the bathroom and sees his friend, English. He’s a popular boy who’s good at basketball. Rashad has been friends with English since they were little, along with Carlos and Shannon. They talk about going to Jill’s party that night, but then start teasing Carlos for not making the basketball team. Carlos likes graffiti art, and he tags around town using LOST as his tag name; Rashad helps him come up with ideas for what to tag but doesn’t do any tagging himself because of David (his father).
Rashad’s uniform is a reminder that he has to be responsible and do his job. When Rashad takes it off, he feels like there are no more restraints on him. He hopes to hook up with Tiffany Watts at the party. Before going to Jill’s house, Rashad wants some chips and gum and $20 from Spoony so he can buy something for Jill when she opens the door. The cop in Jerry’s Corner Mart makes sense because people steal things from there all the time.
Rashad is in a grocery store, looking at chips. He seems to be texting on his cell phone when a white woman walks by him. Rashad looks down to get the cell phone and she trips over his legs and drops her beer bottle which shatters on the floor. The cashier accuses Rashad of trying to steal the chips, but he denies it and puts his hands up as if he’s surrendering.
A policeman shoves Rashad into a submission position. He falls to the ground, and his face smashes against it, breaking some bones in his face. The pain is so intense that he can’t help but squirm around on the ground. This makes the policeman beat him more severely and hold him down harder than before. The policeman taunts Rashad, saying that he will teach him to respect authority. Blood begins running out of Rashad’s mouth as well as inside his mind where he begs not to be killed by this man.
2. Friday: Quinn
Before Quinn can go out partying on a Friday night, he has to take his little brother Willy over to the Cambis’ house. Quinn’s father was killed in Afghanistan and ever since then Quinn feels like he needs to live up to that legacy. He takes a flask of bourbon from his mother before leaving the house with Willy. She works 12-hour shifts at a warehouse, so she isn’t home when they leave. As they walk over together, Quinn puts an arm around Willy because he loves being a big brother.
Quinn’s neighborhood is “going to shit.” Everyone in his neighborhood lives in a multi-family apartment and the police patrol it more often than before. Quinn loves his neighborhood, despite what others say about its decline. When he drops Willy off at the Cambi’s house, Mrs. Cambi gives him a pitiful look that says she doesn’t believe Quinn’s father was as great as everyone says he was. However, Quinn thinks of himself as just like any other kid and tries not to think about how special his father is supposed to be because it makes him feel shitty.
Quinn is meeting his friends Dwyer and Guzzo at a bar called Jerry’s. Quinn will have to practice basketball every Friday and Saturday night, but he wants to make tonight worth it. He has a crush on Jill, who is Guzzo’s cousin, so they plan to go to her house for drinks with the rest of Guzzo’s family.
Quinn and his friends used to steal beer from Jerry’s, but now they pay adults a little extra. Quinn works during the summers and has enough money to last him through the year. He spends most of it on beer at Mother’s Pizza. One day, he approaches someone who buys them beer often, but then he sees a cop push a young black man onto the ground outside Jerry’s.
Quinn sees that the guy on the ground is only a teenager and that he looks familiar. Quinn then notices that the cop who beat him up was his older brother, Paul. Quinn stares in shock as sirens approach; he knows they have to get out of there before anyone else shows up. He tells Guzzo and Dwyer to go home with him, but both are hungry for pizza first. Once they’re eating, however, Quinn can’t stop thinking about what happened earlier at school—he’s haunted by how angry his brother looked when he saw the kid on the ground.
3. Saturday: Rashad
Rashad was drifting in and out of consciousness when he heard the word “custody” repeated over and over. His nose had been broken, so it would never look the same, and nurses had applied ice packs to his ribs because they were bruised from last night’s beating. Police officers stood outside Rashad’s hospital room to make sure that he didn’t try to run away while injured. The police told Rashad’s parents that their son had stolen something, resisted arrest when caught, and caused a public disturbance by fighting with strangers on the street. Rashad couldn’t breathe well enough to explain what actually happened before being taken into custody for shoplifting by security guards at a mall.
Rashad wakes up in the hospital with his mother and father at his bedside. He is grateful that he is alive, but David still thinks Rashad was lying about him not stealing anything from the store. The nurse brings in food for Rashad, who tries to explain everything that happened when he was falsely accused of stealing. David remains suspicious and asks if Rashad’s pants were sagging, which Jessica points out has never been a problem before.
David mentions that the police said Rashad resisted arrest, adding that he always told his sons to “just do what they ask you to do, and you’ll be fine.” Rashad explains that he tried to do that, but it didn’t make a difference. David looks disappointed as if he’s still convinced this was all Rashad’s fault. Soon after Spoony arrives. He is upset about what happened to his brother and argues with David saying: “I’m so sick of them treating us like we’re animals.”
Jessica tells Spoony to calm down, but this only angers him further. He recites statistics about police racism and how they’re unfair towards people of color, which frustrates David. Rashad notes that his father always calls Spoony “a rebel without a cause,” because he doesn’t believe in the system or authority figures. Dr. Barnes enters and says that Rashad’s nose is healing well, but that he has had internal bleeding and thus needs to stay in the hospital for monitoring purposes; there is also a chance that he will need surgery, which frightens Rashad and his family members.
Berry is Spoony’s girlfriend and English’s sister. She is at the hospital with him, along with his parents. Rashad drifts in and out of sleep, watching TV when he wakes up. In the evening, Rashad wakes to find his parents asleep. He talks to Spoony about Berry being worried that nothing will come of their incident at Jerry’s––so far there has been no news on social media or anywhere else online about it yet. Rashad doesn’t want to be in the spotlight for this issue because he doesn’t want people seeing him as a victim of police brutality; however, he knows there isn’t much point in telling Spoony not to pursue any action against them since he is so determined to fight back against what happened at Jerry’s.
4. Saturday: Quinn
Quinn was used to fighting at school and tried convincing himself that the fight with Paul wasn’t a big deal. However, he couldn’t enjoy Jill’s party because of his encounter with Paul. Quinn is haunted by the idea that he could have been someone else during the fight and questions if it really was him in control or not. He feels guilty for letting his father down and decides to get some exercise so he can feel better about himself.
Ma asks Quinn what’s wrong. He tells her that he has to go to the basketball court because Coach Carney is picking starters this week, and Quinn wants to be one of them. Ma wonders if there’s something else bothering him, but Quinn says it isn’t anything important. In his head, he thinks about scouts from colleges coming for tryouts. His father got a full ride through ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps), so Quinn feels like he needs to get even more than that—he needs a full ride at an excellent college through basketball scholarships.
Quinn gets out of the shower and runs straight into Ma, who demands to know “the truth.” For the first time, Ma has found out about Quinn stealing her bourbon. She reminds him that alcohol can kill him and that he is breaking the law. Quinn blames Guzzo, which further infuriates Ma. She tells him that “it’s about how the world looks at you” and that, as a senior, he must decide “what kind of man you want to become.”
Willy doesn’t like soccer. Quinn encourages him to enjoy the game and Guzzo texts saying he has a hangover. He says that what happened at Jerry’s is a big deal, but Guzzo’s family are hosting a barbecue tomorrow, which seems strange as they’ve never hosted one before. Quinn feels nervous about seeing Paul because of what happened at Jerry’s. At the soccer game Will unexpectedly lands a “sweet tackle” and becomes the hero of the match for a moment, which makes Quinn proud of his little brother. Seeing himself in his little brother helps Quinn understand himself better too.
Mother’s Pizza is crowded. There’s a photo of Quinn’s father at the St. Mary soup kitchen, which Quinn always tries to avoid looking at while he eats there. As Quinn orders his pizza, Jill asks him to get her an extra slice as well since she didn’t have enough money for it. Since Quinn gets a discount because his father was famous, he buys three Cokes as well and gives them to Jill and Willy. They eat together and Jill accidentally mentions that Quinn must be hungover from last night; this makes Willy promise not to tell anyone about it or else he’ll lose his job at Mother’s Pizza (which is owned by English). This worries Quinn because if Willy tells people what happened then everyone will think they’re hanging out too much together like brother-sister instead of just friends who hang out occasionally with each other without any romantic feelings involved between them whatsoever so please don’t spread rumors otherwise you might ruin our friendship forever.
A fight breaks out nearby. The location of the restaurant, Mother’s, is at a neighborhood border and this is not unusual. People of all races go there to eat but when they get arrested it turns out that they are white men. Quinn suggests that he and Jill should leave because the situation could get worse. On their way back home, Jill mentions a barbecue party happening in Guzzo’s house tomorrow night which surprises Quinn because he thinks that the party was thrown on short notice for him and his friends. He also thinks that something else might be going on with this sudden invitation to Guzzo’s house since both Quinn and Jill have been avoiding each other lately for some reason which they don’t want to talk about directly even in their own minds yet.
5. Sunday: Rashad
On Sunday morning, Rashad is happy to wake up in his quiet room. He thinks about what happened the previous night, when he was supposed to be at a party with Jill and impress everyone with his dance moves. Instead, he ended up with a broken nose and ribs from being beaten by the police officer. Clarissa enters his room and tells him to breathe into a spirometer (a device that measures lung capacity) before checking his blood pressure. Afterward, members of Rashad’s family come in along with their pastor Jerome Johnson. Rashad feels irritated because he believes in God but wonders “where God was when I was getting beat.” It’s difficult for him to reconcile this reality with Pastor Johnson’s message that God is always present.
The pastor tells Rashad that everything happens for a reason. This angers him further and he leaves the church with the rest of his group. The pastor promises to keep him in prayer and asks Spoony why he has not been coming to church lately, which makes Spoony angry. He turns on the television where there is a news story about what happened at Jerry’s shop earlier that day.
The news plays a video of Rashad being beaten by the cops. They say that he’s sixteen years old and from West Springfield. Spoony and Berry sent his information to the news so they could report on it. David gets really angry, saying that this is not what Rashad needs at all. Spoony says that police brutality is crazy, but David doesn’t see it like this because he knows about police brutality from personal experience with it in his life.
A picture of Rashad in his ROTC uniform appears on the news, and Spoony explains that he supplied the photo to control “the narrative.” Rashad is embarrassed but understands why Spoony did it. Jessica gives Rashad some belongings he requested from home: his duffel bag containing his ROTC uniform, phone, sketchbook, and pencils.
Rashad’s phone blows up with messages from his friends. They are confused about where he is and why he hasn’t shown up to a party. He tells them that he’s okay, but they still worry. After the news comes on, Rashad’s family gets tense again because of another picture of him on TV. Then there is a football game on TV, which calms everyone down until it ends and the news comes back on with names and faces of cops who arrested Rashad earlier in the day.
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6. Sunday: Quinn
On Saturday night, Quinn stayed in and played video games with Willy. On Sunday, he, his mother and brother head over to the Galluzzos’ barbecue. When Ma announces her marshmallow pie everyone cheers. However when Quinn sees Paul standing next to Guzzo he feels tense. Jill approaches Quinn strikes up a conversation about the upcoming basketball season and asks if Coach Carney is putting pressure on him during practice sessions. He lies by telling her it’s “not too bad.”
Jill is nervous because the police were called to her house. One of them told her, “Don’t fuck this up for your family.” She explains that she didn’t get into trouble but it was still weird. The conversation is interrupted by Mr. Galluzzo, who announces that they need to finish cooking before halftime starts. Quinn admits that he saw the whole thing and feels guilty about it because Rashad got beaten up by Paul and he doesn’t know why. He also says it was ugly and Paul kicked the shit out of him (Rashad).
Jill tells Rashad that she heard he resisted arrest when the police came to his house. Quinn asks Jill if she’s hitting on him, and Paul yells at Quinn to come help with the burgers. Paul is nursing a cut in his hand and notices that there seems to be tension between Guzzo and Quinn. He reminds them of their responsibility as teammates, adding that he’ll have some free days soon and can help Quinn practice for basketball tryouts.
Paul is being friendly, but he’s also suspicious of Quinn. He thinks that Quinn is uptight. When they take the burgers into the living room, Quinn joins in watching the game to avoid talking to anyone else. However, he isn’t as distracted by it as he hopes. Then Jill’s mom yells at her about the party and says she has to apologize for something she said earlier about Jerry’s dad getting fired from his job because of what happened there last night. Mrs Galluzzo tells Jill not to say anything more or else she’ll cut her off from coming over again and makes her apologize for what she said before saying that Paul does a difficult job well and that all parents want their kids to respect them when they have jobs like this one so don’t talk bad about him anymore or you won’t be able to come here anymore either!
Paul says, “Thanks Mom,” after the conversation has ended. Quinn is embarrassed by this and turns red. Mr Galluzzo suggests they might need more food but Paul dismisses him saying that there will be a lot of press attention and it won’t look good for them. He promises to sort it out though and asks his family to support him as he does so. He then singles out Quinn telling him that he needs his help with some basketball practice before the game starts.
Paul and Guzzo are playing against Quinn and Dwyer. Paul is very aggressive with Quinn, while claiming that he’s just trying to help him. Eventually, Quinn grows frustrated and leaves because he doesn’t want to be around Paul anymore.
7. Monday: Quinn
Quinn gets to school and finds everyone talking about Rashad. He has received text messages from other boys on the basketball team, but he has not checked them yet. Instead, Quinn turns his phone off so that he doesn’t have to think about it. He refuses to watch the video of Rashad’s arrest because it would be too painful for him. As Quinn is walking up the stairs, he runs into Nam who asks why Paul did what he did and if Quinn had watched the video yet. Quinn replies that Paul was just doing his job before admitting that he hasn’t watched the video either because it would be too hard for him to see Rashad in pain like that again since they were such good friends growing up together as well as teammates at school now. In class, Quinn feels like everyone is looking at him even though no one really is paying attention to him except for a few people who are whispering amongst themselves while looking at their phones instead of listening to Mr Crayle talk about Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”.
During lunch, Jill asks to sit with Quinn. She tells him that she knows he has been avoiding Guzzo and asks if he’s seen the video. He says no because he was there and doesn’t need to see it again.
Paul once beat up a kid called Marc Blair. However, Paul did it to help Quinn out. It’s hard for Jill and Quinn to imagine that Paul could have done such a thing because they’ve always thought of him as a good guy. At the end of lunch, Quinn admits he only feels comfortable talking about Rashad with Jill and briefly holds her hand.
After lunch, Quinn remembers when Paul beat up Marc. Marc was an older kid who bullied Quinn; he once pressed Quinn’s face against a chain-link fence until he vomited. Suddenly, another memory occurs to him of a time when he saw an older black student wearing a Public Enemy t-shirt that read “Fear of a Black Planet.” He reflects on his own subconscious fears about black people after seeing the shirt and thinks about how they played into what happened with Paul and Marc. After Paul beat up Marc, he called him a “thug.” Quinn feels guilty about the role he played in this incident because it brought back bad memories from his past involving being bullied by other kids like Marc for no reason other than race or ethnicity.
In the next class, Ms. Webber announces that they will be taking a practice test instead of working on an activity. During this time, Molly asks EJ a question and Ms. Webber scolds EJ for talking during class time. Later in the lesson, Rashad’s name is mentioned and both Molly and EJ shout his name out loud to show their support for him despite being told to focus on their work by Ms. Webber.
Someone else in the class says, “Paul Galluzzo.” Quinn is angry because he thinks that talking about Rashad’s arrest just makes it worse. At basketball practice, Quinn feels disproportionately aware of Shannon and English because they are close friends of Rashad. Coach Carney gives a speech about not getting too distracted by scouts. He tells the team to leave all their problems at the door so they can focus on playing together as one unified team. Quinn wishes this were possible, and decides to try and follow Coach’s advice by acting like everyone else is colorblind instead of focusing on race issues. However, he cannot help but feel that his actions imply complicity with what happened to Rashad since he did not do anything when Rashad was arrested for no reason other than being black.
8. Monday: Rashad
Rashad is thinking about Aaron Douglas, a painter who was part of the Harlem Renaissance. Rashad has been into art since he was young, and his favorite comic strip as a child was The Family Circus. He would save each issue to draw his own version of it later on in life. In addition, he also drew from what he learned from other artists like Douglas when creating his artwork.
Rashad starts drawing a picture of what happened to him at Jerry’s. Clarissa comes in with his food and says she could tell he was an artist. She asks to see the picture, which is not very complete yet, but she says it will be good anyway. Rashad shows her some other drawings from his sketchbook and she likes them too.
As soon as Clarissa leaves, Rashad needs to leave his room. He goes down to the first floor of the hospital and visits the gift shop. As he looks around at what they have for sale, he is careful not to make any sudden moves. Eventually, a woman behind the counter asks if she can help him find anything. She introduces herself as Shirley Fitzgerald and tells Rashad that she volunteers at this store because her husband died and her children grew up. She invites him back anytime if he wants more conversation or just someone to talk with while in here recovering from his injuries from a car accident.
In the afternoon, Carlos and English arrive at Rashad’s hospital room. They discuss how Tiffany asked about him today. A bunch of kids from school are thinking about coming to visit him too. Rashad asks his friends to tell everyone he is fine, but that he doesn’t want any visitors because he wants time away from everything that happened with Guzzo’s brother. The boys joke around until Rashad makes a joke about what happened to him, which is met with awkward silence by everyone in the room except for Carlos who laughs awkwardly along with him.
Shannon asks Rashad to tell her his side of the story. English and Carlos are surprised by what they hear, but English is particularly shaken up. Suddenly he realizes that they have practice, so he says that they should leave immediately. However, Carlos insists that something needs to be done about what happened to Rashad. English is hesitant because both he and Shannon don’t want to get in trouble with the rules or break any laws. After they leave, Rashad sees himself on TV again; however this time it won’t turn off no matter how many times he tries changing the channel or unplugging it from its socket (because there’s a camera hidden behind it). He grows increasingly frustrated before finally ripping out the cord entirely (and destroying the camera in process).
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9. Tuesday: Quinn
On Tuesday, Quinn arrives at school to find the words “RASHAD IS ABSENT AGAIN TODAY” spray-painted on the pavement in front of Springfield Central High. Students gather around it and take pictures. The teachers avoid talking about it during class, but they do talk about it during lunch. Most students go outside to eat their lunch by the graffiti. Only four out of five basketball players remain inside; one of them is Guzzo, who beckons for Quinn to come over as well. Quinn remembers Paul telling him that Springfield used to be 85% white, but that now it’s only 37% white because whites have moved away from the city or been killed off by gang violence and drug dealers in recent years. Standing inside the cafeteria, surrounded by mostly black students, he feels painfully aware that he belongs with them.
Jill asks Quinn where he’s going to sit, and tells him she wants to sit outside. Quinn agrees, but after Guzzo calls out to them they go and sit down at Guzzo’s table. During lunch, Jill reveals that Quinn told her he witnessed Rashad’s arrest. Guzzo is furious, and tells Quinn not to tell anyone else. Jill implores Guzzo to think about Rashad and his family, but Guzzo remains aggressively defensive of Paul, and reminds Quinn of all the things Paul has done for him. Dwyer urges Quinn not to get involved in this situation because it will only hurt their careers if they do so; however, both are upset by what happened with Rashad since he was a close friend of theirs as well as a fellow teammate on the wrestling team whom they admired greatly for his athletic ability as well as his character off the mat/court/field etc..
At practice, Coach Carney pushes the team extra hard. While they are on the leg machines, Quinn asks English if he knows who did the graffiti. English is standoffish, and tells Quinn: “Rashad didn’t do shit.” He becomes increasingly angry, especially after Quinn suggests Rashad might have been on drugs. English points out that Quinn smokes weed, whereas Rashad doesn’t do drugs at all. English emphasizes that Quinn is clueless and remarks: “I had no idea you were such a dick.” After English walks away, Guzzo thanks Quinn for supporting Paul. However, when Guzzo tries to joke about the graffiti, Quinn grows annoyed with him as well because of his tone of voice; this angers Guzzo in turn because he feels like an outsider due to his lack of friends in school; however he apologizes for it later on because he understands how annoying it was to hear someone talk down upon something you love so dearly (in this case football).
When the team starts to play, Quinn keeps messing up. He admits to Coach that his head is “up my ass” and Coach gives him two “suicides” (a sprinting drill) as punishment. Quinn realizes that he wants his life to go back to the way it was before Rashad’s arrest. That evening, he messes up a meal he has made countless times before. He can’t stop thinking about the fact that he can choose to forget or “walk away from” the incident at Jerry’s simply because he is white. He decides not watch the video and instead focus on what really matters: winning games for his team and getting them into college so they have a better future ahead of them than their parents did.
After watching the video of Rashad being assaulted by a police officer, Quinn calls Jill and tells her about it. He then calls her again to talk about how racism affects their town. They decide that they want to do something about it, so they go around and ask other people if they know what’s going on with the situation. After talking with others, Quinn decides that he won’t walk away anymore from situations like this in the future.
10. Tuesday: Rashad
The book starts with a news report about Rashad’s arrest. The reporter interviews the woman who took the video of his arrest, Claudia James. She says that he was treated unfairly by Paul and that he couldn’t have been resisting, considering that he was handcuffed. Then there is an interview with another man who supports Paul’s actions. Rashad turns off the TV and goes back to work on his drawing. Clarissa comes in and thanks him for all his help over the years; she also tells him not to let others get him down because of what happened to him at school today.
Jessica enters Rashad’s room and says that David can’t make it, as he has an upset stomach. She gives Rashad an envelope from Chief Killabrew, and asks what he is drawing. When Rashad shows her his drawing, she starts to cry because she thinks he looks like a criminal. Jessica tells him not to draw pictures of criminals anymore because it upsets her too much. Jessica reminds Rashad that he isn’t a criminal; instead, she tells him that the police are assholes for arresting innocent people such as himself.
Later, Jessica and Rashad are watching Family Feud when Spoony and Berry arrive. Berry is in law school, which pleases David. She’s also very pretty; Rashad describes her as “everybody’s first crush.” However, after she started dating Spoony, he stopped joking about his attraction to her out of respect for Spoony.
Spoony shows Rashad a picture of the graffiti outside school. The graffiti has inspired a hashtag: #RashadIsAbsentAgainToday. There will be a protest against it on Monday at lunchtime. Jessica is worried about this because she doesn’t want anyone getting hurt or arrested by the police officers who show up to stop the protest from happening. She tentatively suggests that not all cops are bad people, adding that she married one once herself. Spoony quickly disagrees with her idea. He says that protests actually work if they’re done right. He then adds that activists should focus their efforts on making sure they have enough food and water available during any demonstrations so no one gets dehydrated or hungry while protesting.
Soon after, English, Shannon and Carlos arrive. They too begin talking about the protest. Mr. Fisher is helping them plan it. Jessica remains hesitant because she’s scared of what may happen if they go through with it. The boys share stories of times when they’ve been mistreated by the police and how that has made them feel uncomfortable in their own community. After hearing these stories from Rashad and others, Jessica decides to join them in planning this protest even though part of her is still nervous about what could happen during it all
11. Wednesday: Quinn
On Wednesday, Quinn is still in a daze after the previous day’s events. He encounters Paul Galluzzo on his way to school and feels sympathy for him. However, he then realizes that this feeling of sympathy isn’t genuine and tries to act like he cares about what Paul has been through by pretending to sympathize with him.
Students are handing out flyers for a protest and asking if Rashad will attend. Nobody knows the answer, but they’re distributing copies of Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man to English class. The book is about young black men being forced to fight each other as entertainment for old white men. Quinn is horrified by this story, which makes him think that maybe things haven’t changed much since then after all.
Ms. Tracey usually sits on top of her desk, but today she is sitting behind it. Suddenly, she starts to cry and says that her head of department has advised against assigning “Battle Royale.” Quinn writes a note to Tooms suggesting that Rashad is the “invisible man” at Springfield High School and saying they should do something about it. Tooms mouths a request for backup before standing up and reading the story aloud, dedicating it to Rashad. Tooms would never normally volunteer to do such a thing; however, he does so this time because he wants people to understand what racism feels like when you’re experiencing it firsthand. Once Quinn finishes reading, others follow suit with their own readings. Some students avoid saying racial slurs in the text ; however, Quinn still feels their presence even though some of them are not said explicitly. He realizes that taking an active role in stopping racial violence will be necessary.
Quinn is able to focus on basketball for the first time since Rashad’s arrest. He and English get into a good rhythm, but Quinn wishes that scouts would be watching. However, just before practice ends, Guzzo gets into a fight with Tooms. Guzzo claims that everyone has it in for him and Coach makes them promise to work together and think of the scouts. Instead, Quinn thinks they should focus on how they work together outside of practice.
After practice, Guzzo tells Quinn not to blame Paul for doing his job. He asks Quinn what he would say if he had been called as a witness and when Quinn doesn’t answer, Guzzo pushes him away saying “fuck you.” He says that claims of racism are getting out of control but then reminds him that they aren’t the real victims. Coach brings the team together again and makes them promise not to attend the protest: “no parties and no protests.” The team agrees with some reluctance.
12. Wednesday: Rashad
Chief Killabrew says that he wanted to visit Rashad, but heard that Rashad didn’t want visitors. He wishes him well, and encloses the ROTC creed. He hopes it will make Rashad feel better or guilty about what happened at Jerry’s. On Tuesday night, after leaving Jerry’s bar with David, Rashad had a nightmare about the incident there. In the morning on Wednesday, David came by before work to see how he was doing.
David warily tells Rashad a story from his days as a police officer. He says he was called to the East Side, where he found two young men (Darnell Shackleford and another boy) in an altercation. The other boy seemed like Spoony, with dreadlocks and baggy pants. When Darnell tried to run away, David grabbed him by the arm; when Darnell resisted, David shot him in self-defense because he thought he had a gun or knife in his backpack.
Rashad is shocked to hear that David, a cop, paralyzed someone. He thinks back on all the stories he’s heard about his father being heroic and brave while in uniform. David explains that Darnell was actually the robber, and was reaching for an inhaler because he had asthma. Rashad asks if his dad killed him, but David says no; instead he just paralyzed him from the waist down. Spoony remembers hearing about this incident over the news when it happened years ago. It was hard for everyone involved at first because they didn’t understand what really happened or why it happened; however, they’ve moved past it now and have accepted their new reality as best they can. Being a police officer means putting your life at risk every day you go into work—it’s a difficult job with many challenges to face each day.
Rashad asks David why he wanted to be a cop. He says that he wanted to help people and do good things. After the incident with Darnell, he quit the force. He emphasizes that most cops are actually good. Rashad adds that most guys who look like Spoony aren’t criminals, but David warns him not to make assumptions about his character based on his looks alone. Then, David explains that Jessica wants to press charges against Spoony for assaulting her in front of her apartment building last night after she refused him entry into an after-party at one of the clubs where she worked as a promoter. As David goes to leave, Rashad says that if he’s well enough by Friday, then he plans on going out and protesting against police brutality.
After drawing for a while, Rashad takes a walk around the hospital floor. On his way back to his room, he meets Mrs. Fitzgerald and Katie Lansing, who was in Jerry’s before it got raided by the police. They tell him that they came up to visit him after hearing about what happened at Jerry’s. He is surprised because he had not thought about going to court or getting himself out of jail until now.
The woman then tells Rashad that he told her about the car accident. She says she knew who he was when he first came in, but decided to treat him like a normal person because it would make him feel better. The woman also says that Rashad is afraid to participate in the process and reminds him of what life was like before integration, when segregation restricted black people’s existence at every turn. However, she admits that even though she didn’t participate in activism during those times, her brother asked her to do so.
Mrs. Fitzgerald tells Rashad that she wants to share her story with him. She pulls out some chips and mentions that she did not get plain ones because they’re boring. After Mrs. Fitzgerald leaves, Rashad reflects on how scary it must have been for people protesting during the Civil Rights Movement in America. He decides to attend the protest despite his fear of doing so, since he knows it’s important to stand up against injustice when you see it happening around you or even if others are silent about an issue as serious as racial discrimination is in America today.
In a flurry of energy, he goes back to his drawing and finally draws facial features into the figures he had drawn before this moment of inspiration hit him.
13. Thursday: Quinn
On Thursday, Quinn wakes early and is filled with thoughts. He looks at the Galluzzo house and remembers when he stood there during his father’s funeral. Paul had told him that if he ever needed anything at all, to come to him. Quinn feels relieved by this statement since everyone else has been focused on basketball scouts but now sees it as a historical moment because of racism.
Quinn grabs a plain white t-shirt and writes on it, “I’m marching” on the front, and “Are you?” on the back. He goes to school wearing it, where he gets mixed reactions from people. Some kids think that Quinn is crazy for going against what Coach said about not going to the protest march. Others give him high fives because they support his beliefs in social justice issues. In trigonometry class, Mrs. Erlich writes statistics about police violence on the board and tells them that numbers don’t lie when referring to society’s treatment of African Americans by law enforcement officers
Guzzo avoids Quinn all day, and at basketball practice refuses to look at him. Later on in the locker room, English suggests that they call a new play the Rashad. Guzzo agrees happily.
Once Quinn changes back into his normal clothes, Coach Carney points to the shirt and says that this has to stop. He threatens to call Ma, which terrifies Quinn. After leaving the locker room, he runs into Guzzo who punches him in the face and tells him never to come near his house or talk with him again. In a bathroom stall, Quinn thinks about how Rashad was beaten up by members of Guzzo’s family while he got beat up by another member of Guzzo’s family.
After Ma sees Quinn’s face, she asks what happened and Willy says that it was Guzzo who beat him up. However, Ma isn’t concerned about the fight; instead, she is worried about how the Galluzzos will react to Quinn being involved in a protest. She tells him not to go to the meeting and reminds him of his father’s opinion on protests. After hugging, they decide not to talk about politics anymore because they don’t want things between them to get any worse than they already are.
Paul had told Quinn that he wanted to be a police officer when he was in ninth grade. He said it was because of the example set by Quinn’s father and his desire to make a difference. At the time, Quinn thought Paul inspired him, but now he thinks differently. The person who used to inspire him beat up someone badly enough for them to go into hospital. Everyone keeps telling Quinn that family loyalty is important and that his dad would want him to stick with Paul no matter what happened, but now Quinn realizes that wasn’t true at all—his dad believed in doing what’s right even if it meant going against your friends or people you love; something like fighting for justice instead of just protecting your own interests.
14. Thursday: Rashad
On Wednesday, Jessica brought a lawyer to the hospital. Rashad was exhausted but he told her everything that happened at Jerry’s house. The lawyer believed it would be an open-and-shut case, but Rashad wasn’t so sure because Katie Lansing visited and offered to testify on his behalf. On Thursday morning Rashad woke up to the news that he could leave the hospital and he was thrilled. However, when he realized that all his clothes were covered in dirt and blood from Friday night, he panicked.
Clarissa checks Rashad’s vitals one last time. She is happy to hear that he is going home. She asks if he ever finished his drawing, and she is impressed with the final product. He gave a face to the figure being beaten, which Clarissa thinks deserves a face. He texts his friends about Quinn and Guzzo fighting at basketball practice in school, who tell him everyone has picked sides on this issue.
Rashad is sad to leave the hospital, but he’s also eager to get back home. He searches for #RashadIsAbsentAgainToday and finds that there are many posts about him on social media. Some people have made videos defending Rashad, while others have posted pictures of themselves wearing shirts with the same hashtag. In addition, some people post comments debating whether or not Rashad looks like someone who would rob a store.
After seeing a comment about David’s shooting of Darnell Shackleford, Rashad decides to look up Darnell. Seeing pictures of him in his wheelchair, he realizes that it is important for everyone to fight for the things they believe in. Later that night, English and Shannon come over with some friends and order some pizza from Mother’s Pizza. They explain what has been happening at school while Rashad was gone. After hearing about an argument between English and Quinn on the basketball court one day, it became clear how much people cared about him when they decided to name their new play after him because of their love for each other as teammates.
Rashad tells Carlos that he knows it was him who did the graffiti outside school. Carlos denies it with a smile, but Rashad is not convinced. Spoony begins discussing the protest; when Rashad expresses concern about his friends missing basketball practice, they respond that it’s unimportant. English notes that the protest has spread far beyond Springfield Central High, and Jessica adds that Pastor Johnson will be coming with a group of people. Rashad wonders if David will come to the march too, since he’s been talking about doing something for black rights for a while now. Spoony suggested doing a die-in at the march today—it involves lying down on the ground as form of protest against police brutality in America and other countries around the world. This makes both Rashad and Jessica nervous because they don’t want to get shot by cops or arrested during their first day protesting together (they’ve only known each other for two days). Then again, there’s no time like right now to start making change happen!
15. Friday: Quinn
Quinn is afraid of what will happen when he goes to school on Friday. He tells the police that he wants to make a statement, and they tell him that they have a lot of statements already. Quinn insists, and then is shocked by the sight of a large black vehicle with police in military uniforms outside his school, which causes him to shake in fear. Other students shout slogans about how this shows what a police state looks like, and asks who exactly are these officers serving?
Jill sees Quinn, who is worried about the upcoming riots. She explains that the police are preparing for major violence. Quinn thinks about his father, who died for his beliefs. He remembers how scared he must have been every time he was deployed, but he also remembers that his dad’s strength came from his determination to act despite being afraid. Jill tells him that black people live in fear of the police every day and she wants to experience what it feels like to be a person of color in America. Paul and her mom hate her because they think she’s on the wrong side but she is determined to do what’s right even if others disagree with her choice to march.
Quinn looks out at all of the students getting ready to march and thinks again about how terrified he imagines his father must have felt when going into battle knowing there was a good chance he would never come home alive or whole again; however, this did not stop him from doing what needed done as an officer sworn by duty and honor—to protect those citizens whose lives were threatened by evil forces outside their control (the enemy). Quinn realizes now that just because something may be scary doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it anyway if you feel strongly enough about it; sometimes we need courage beyond our fears in order for justice and freedom prevail over injustice and oppression no matter which side one chooses (right or wrong) during times of conflict or war (warfare).
During school, everyone is distracted. After the final bell rings, Quinn sees Dwyer headed to basketball practice and knows that he will be punished for missing practice. However, he goes to the march because he feels a responsibility as a white person to take a stand against racism. He reflects on signs at school that read “OUR SILENCE IS ANOTHER KIND OF VIOLENCE.”
Quinn joins the march because he’s told to take responsibility. He wants to stand up for freedom and justice, but he can’t do that without taking some risks. He hopes to see Rashad in the crowd as a way of showing his support.
The die-in takes place and Quinn listens to the names of black people killed by police officers. He stares up at the sky, worrying that he will become numb to racist violence against blacks. However, he finds consolation in knowing that Rashad survived and searches for him in the crowd.
16. Friday: Rashad
The night before the protest, Rashad was unable to sleep. In the morning, he felt nauseous and had diarrhea. Jessica noticed that he was uncomfortable and said that it must be because of his nerves. This made him think about when David didn’t come to visit him in the hospital because he wasn’t feeling well himself.
Rashad and Jessica watch the news, which shows images of police in riot gear preparing for a protest. Rashad thinks about David’s stories of marching in different cities, like Spoony did. He recalls how painful it was to be tear-gassed by the police officers at those protests. Rashad asks if David is coming to the march that night, but Jessica says she doesn’t know. She says that last night she woke up to find David out of bed staring into Rashad’s room. The two then talk about what happened when they were younger and how their father used to come into their rooms late at night without knocking on doors first or saying anything before he entered their bedrooms.
Rashad goes into his bedroom and takes out some old clippings of The Family Circus. He remembers how innocent he was as a child, before all the bad stuff happened to him in high school. Spoony comes in wearing all black, and Rashad dresses in black too. They go down to the kitchen where Jessica and Berry are waiting for them. Before leaving, Rashad goes into the bathroom and peels off the tape on his nose so that everyone can see what Paul did to him during lunch period today. Although it makes him look ugly, he wants people to know that this is who he is now because of Paul’s actions toward him earlier today.
The crowd is huge for the protest, and a lot of people are strangers. Rashad moves through them to get closer to Carlos, English, Shannon, Mr. Fisher and Ms. Tracey who are holding up signs that say things like “Rashad is absent again today” or “God is never absent.” He sees his friends in ROTC uniforms holding up their own sign that says “Rashad is not here today but we love him anyway”. He also sees basketball players and football players at the protest too.
Rashad is at the front of a crowd. He joins hands with other protesters to form a line in front of the police station and chants slogans. Suddenly, he sees David who was also arrested for protesting. Both are shocked but smile at each other as they keep chanting together. Jessica cries as she watches them from afar. David joins Rashad and others in the protest march towards the police station where they lie down on the ground to symbolize their deaths by police brutality. Berry reminds everyone that this isn’t just about Rashad, but all blacks who have been killed by white cops without any justice served against those officers responsible for killing innocent black people under suspicious circumstances (i..e: Michael Brown). She reads out names of some black victims of police violence followed by “Absent Again Today!” which means these victims were not there to testify against their killers because they’re dead and gone forever now; another victim added to society’s pile of unsolved murders committed by racist cops against innocent African Americans
17. Friday: Quinn and Rashad
In the final chapter, Rashad and Quinn catch each other’s eyes during a die-in. They both think about people who can’t be there because they’re dead. Rashad is sad that he couldn’t see Quinn earlier when he wanted to but happy that they are connecting now. He feels connected with all black people, whether or not they can be at the protest. He will fight for them because he is “Rashad Butler, present.”