Speaking the truth is something a lot of society doesn’t do. People tell lies, spread rumors, and gossip. In this case, this was happening to Starr’s friend Khaili, and even to her. She was the only witness at his death, and couldn’t bare what was being said about him after his death, so she did something about it.
Who is Starr Carter? Well, Starr Carter is an amazing young woman who made such a big impact on her community. She’s just your normal, typical, teenage girl, who lives in the black neighborhood her father grew up in, known as Garden Heights. Her parents did not want her going to the school in their neighborhood, so they sent her to Williamson Prep, an almost all-white school. Throughout the novel, Starr’s character development is constantly changing. At the beginning of the novel, her best friend, Khalil, gets shot and killed by a white officer for doing nothing wrong. She was the only witness and was deeply traumatized. She’s too scared to speak up as the witness because of what other people would think of her, and what King, the biggest drug dealer in their neighborhood, would do to her and her family. Starr’s scared King will hurt her family, but her family and Ms.Ofrah encourage her to speak up and when she feels she’s ready to. Starr speaks to police as the witness and then goes to the grand jury to get justice for Khalil, but Officer Cruise doesn’t get arrested. Starr’s mom grabs her hand and “Looked [her] in the eye, and said, ‘Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.’”(Thomas 154) This is her way of saying that Starr made the right choice when she went to the police and told them what happened the night of Khalil’s death, whether Officer Cruise was going to get arrested or not, she at least tried. After what happened to Khalil, Starr wants Ms.Ofrah to know that she couldn’t do anything about her friend Natasha’s death because of how young she was, but now that she’s older and braver, she wants to have that chance to do something and to make a change for Khalil. Starr says to Ms. Ofrah while they’re where Ms.Ofrah works, ‟I’ve tried to forget it, but I remember everything. The shots, the look on Natasha’s face. They never caught the person who did it. I guess it didn’t matter enough. But it did matter.” Starr looks at Ms. Ofrah with tears in her eyes, “And I want everyone to know that Khalil mattered too” (Thomas 219).
Between what Starr’s family and friends are telling her to do, she doesn’t know how to approach this situation. When Kenya finds out that Starr was a witness and she wasn’t coming forward she says to her, “I’m just saying, Starr. If I could change what happens at my house with my momma and daddy, I would. Here you are, with a chance to help change what happens in our whole neighborhood, and you staying quiet. Like a coward” (Thomas 198). When Kenya tells this to her, this makes her think that she has to speak out. What she says gets to her, and makes her realize that she has to speak out. When Maverick and Starr speak with each other, Maverick says to Starr, “Exactly. You and your brothers are something to live for and something to die for, and I’ll do whatever I gotta do to protect.” ‘He kissed my forehead.’ “If you’re ready to talk, baby, talk. I got your back” (Thomas 200). Whenever someone we love helps us through something, it makes it easier to get through it.
Tony Blair says, “Sometimes it is better to lose and do the right thing than to win and do the wrong thing.” In this case, Starr did the right thing. She went to the police and came forth as the witness. She also went to the grand jury, which took a lot for her to do. She wanted people to know that she cares for this movement. She wants justice, and she wants change. Starr wanted to set Khalil’s story straight. Rumors were going around about how Khalil was this big drug dealer, gang banger, and a thug. They had it all wrong. No one chooses to do something like this. He felt he had to do it for the money, to support himself and his family. Starr thinks to herself about what DeVante was telling her and thinks, “Devante. Khalil. Neither one of them thought they had much of a choice. If I were them, I’m not sure I’d make a much better one” (Thoms 239). DeVante had to do it because his family couldn’t make money to survive. DeVante tells Starr, “Like I said, nobody likes selling drugs, I hated that shit. For real. But I hated seeing my momma and sisters go hungry, you know?’ Starr says to Khalil, ‘I don’t know. I’ve never had to know. My parents made sure of that” (Thomas 238). This is exactly what her parents tried to protect her from, this is also why they wanted her to go to Williamson Prep, and not the Garden Heights school. Her mom works day and night to provide for their family so their kids would never have to deal with what other families have to.
In society, people don’t speak up. Sometimes they don’t tell us things. Truth is that, if we don’t tell each other what’s going on, rumors spread, things get worse, and friendships get ruined. We have to speak up. Tell the right story, and make things right. Sometimes speaking up can be hard, you can risk things, you could ruin things. Or you could take that risk to make things right and to make a difference, in this case, Starr made a difference in her community. She knew what was at risk, but she had the bravery and support from her family to take that risk.