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304 pages, Hardcover
First published March 20, 2018
“People don’t fucking know that black folks were never included in all. All-American means white. All-inclusive means white. All lives means white lives. It’s bullshit. White dolls always make it about them, and I’m pissed that they’re trying to mask their hatred with these tags.”
"This is real life, not the movies. Boys like you don’t have a place at MIT. Or any of the prestigious schools in America.”
“Well, Mr. Dodson, sir, I’d like to think otherwise. I think there’s plenty of room for boys who look like me. But people like you make it hard for us to see that."
“Listen. I called you, Marv, because I know you’ll listen and understand and, apparently now, will do whatever is necessary to get your brother back.”
“I need your help,” Johntae says slowly. “I’ve got a thousand-dollar bail. If you can get me out of here, I can help you get Tyler back.”
I say, “Deal,” without hesitation. I barely have a buck to my name, but I don’t care. I’ll do anything to have my brother back.
"G-mo’s—makes us chips and guacamole. I’ve never had it before and it tastes amazing, and something about the lime or the cilantro or whatever else is in it calms my nerves."
“Are you aware that Ms. Tanner signed you up for an interview with MIT at the college fair on Thursday?”
I forget to breathe for a moment. “No, sir?”
“No, sir, what, boy?” he shouts, and I flinch a bit.
“No, I was not aware.”
“I’ve tried calling the MIT admissions office, and they won’t allow me to cancel your appointment with their admissions representative. You know what that means, boy?”
Sometimes people need reminding that they matter, more than they need reminding that they're alive, because sometimes being alive just isn't enough.
“I tell myself that I love this skin, that I’ve always loved my blackness, that if the world doesn’t love me, I will love myself for the both of us. After reminding myself that I matter, that I always mattered, that Tyler mattered and still does, I make a promise to myself. I promise that I’ll never be silent about things that matter, that I’ll keep on saying his name for the rest of my days.”
“My pops used to warn us about the police. He used to say, like all things in the world, there are good ones and bad ones. He used to say get a good look at the cop’s face ’cause that makes all the difference. He used to say memorize the badge number or the license plate number. That’s why I recorded what I saw after the party. Video footage seems like the only way people will even hear us sometimes.”