A Children’s Theatre Company Original World Premiere Production
Friendships challenged, a world changed, and two young people struggling to make sense of it all. Follow friends and neighbors, Josh and Emma, as they navigate their way through an experience beyond their control and understanding.
Josh and Emma have many questions about the tragic killing of a Black man by a White police officer. Real questions that deserve real answers. But during conversations over dinner, at bedtime, before and after school, their families (one Black and one White) find such answers don’t come easily. Layered with compassion and humor, this show invites you to walk alongside Josh and Emma as they confront uncertainty within their town and between themselves. More than just a “must see,” this play will help families more fully understand how their neighbors’ experiences might be different than their own.
Written by Cheryl L. West
Directed by Timothy Douglas
Based on the book Something Happened in Our Town by Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP; Marietta Collins, PhD; Ann Hazzard, PhD, ABPP
About the Show
- Something Happened in Our Town is a play featuring a small group of adult and student actors.
- This production takes place on our UnitedHealth Group stage which seats up to 745 people per performance.
- Something Happened in Our Town is based on the picture book by child psychologists Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard.
- While this play discusses feelings surrounding police-involved shootings from a variety of perspectives, the actual triggering events and interactions with police are NOT portrayed onstage.
- We know that teachers are the best judge to determine the right fit for their unique group of students. We recommend Something Happened in Our Town for students in grades 3–12 due to the themes of this performance. Check out the synopsis and content advisories for full information.
“In a time of reckoning in our country, this work is a call to action, to facilitate the much-needed discussion about inclusion, compassion, and what it really means to be peace makers in our homes, schools, and communities. Hopefully, this story will move us one step closer to healing our racial divide.”
– Playwright Cheryl L. West
Language: 2 out of 5 stars
Multiple adults and kids say “shut up.” Elementary insults such as “stupid,” “shut up,” and “four eyes,” are used by elementary-aged characters. Phrases such as “blue lives matter” and “Black lives matter” are used when discussing events. Social media posts are projected across the screen. These posts include helpful plot information, so it is helpful if students have the ability to read.
Themes and Situations: 3 out of 5 stars
References to murder, death, police brutality, and racial profiling.
Violence & Scariness: 3 out of 5 stars
Police brutality and police-involved shootings are discussed. Malcolm is arrested and brought home in handcuffs. Josh and Emma argue as the rest of their class chants “FIGHT.” Despite encouragement, they do not physically fight. While this play discusses feelings surrounding police-involved shootings from a variety of perspectives, the actual triggering events and interactions with police are NOT portrayed onstage.
Sensory Advisories: 1 out of 5 stars
Sirens and news coverage are heard.
Potentially Anxious Moments: 3 out of 5 stars
Police brutality, police-involved shootings, murder, death, racial profiling, prejudice, and other current event topics are discussed. Characters disagree and become angry. Josh worries that he will be shot by the police. Malcolm sneaks out of the house to participate in the protest and is arrested. Josh and Emma argue as their friendship is strained by current events. Sophia can be a bully who is not always kind to her peers.
This is a complete synopsis of the play, so it is full of spoilers. This play is still in development. Content is subject to change until script is finalized.
Emma Hartley and Josh Perkins are playing in their front yard. They are neighbors and each house gives clues to who lives in each house. Emma’s house, which she shares with her mother and her small terrier, is an eclectic mix of toys and bohemian décor. Josh’s house is a bit more put together with a neatly manicured lawn, flowers in bloom, African-inspired artwork, and well-coordinated furniture. Emma’s dog, Poppi, barks from her window and Josh bemoans not having a dog of his own and expresses concern that they should head to the bus stop but Emma is clearly unconcerned.
We see a peek into Josh’s house where his older brother, Malcolm, mom, Bella, and dad, Calvin, are busy getting ready for their day. Malcolm celebrates that he finally got his driver’s license.
Emma informs Josh that he is her best friend which seems to shock Josh. He explains that he has never had a friend that looks like Emma. Emma assumes he means a girl and bossy but it is clear that Josh meant White.
Emma’s uncle, Manny, enters the yard and greets the kids. Manny and Josh clearly have a bond that we see as they perform an intricate handshake. Manny admires the new trampoline, but Emma calls his bluff by revealing that she knows he paid for it which was clearly supposed to be a secret.
In the adjoining yard, Malcolm is begging to drive everyone to school while Josh’s parents are clearly distracted by work. This family is in stark contrast to Emma’s mother who steps onto her eclectic porch to encourage the kids to get to school. Just then, a group of kids from school run by to catch the bus. Emma shouts after them that she got everyone candy as the sweets spill from her lunch box clumsily. Emma and Josh are clearly not “cool” kids. The rest of the students refuse to eat the candy and Daniel calls Josh “four eyes” and “weird.” The insults don’t faze Emma who informs the group that she and Josh are “unique” but the berating clearly gets under Josh’s skin as he hangs his head. He asks Emma not to call him her best friend.
Josh asks Uncle Manny, a local police officer, to drive them to school in his patrol car but Emma is determined to hang out with the other kids on the bus. Uncle Manny reminds the kids to “put something in those coconut-heads” which prompts frowns and stares from the Perkins family. As she leaves, Emma shouts back at Uncle Manny to remind him about career day at school and Josh comments that he thinks Uncle Manny is “super cool.”
At the Perkins house, Malcolm and his mom are arguing about eating breakfast and driving. Malcolm insists on dropping his dad off at the front of the school so he doesn’t have to walk but his father suspects that he wants to drop him off in front so none of the other students see Malcolm driving with his father who also happens to be the principal.
Manny and Emma’s mom, Sue, wave at the Perkins family as they leave for the day but there is clearly some tension between the adults of the families, particularly between Manny and the Perkins. Manny hypothesizes that it is because their house is a bit funkier than the well-put-together Perkins house. Sue informs Manny that the matriarch of the Perkins family, Bella, is a blogger and that she made a cake for them when they moved in. Sue tells Manny to stop being suspicious, but Manny can’t help protecting his sister and niece.
At school, Ms. Garcia’s class is discussing the meaning of “helpful” by listing people the students know who helpers are. Again, it is clear that the rest of the students have some disdain towards Emma’s perky and over-the-top attitude. Ms. Garcia reminds the class that Friday is career day and Emma excitedly announces that her Uncle Manny will attend to tell everyone about being a cop.
An announcement is heard over the loudspeaker asking the teachers to report to the hallway. Once Ms. Garcia exits the classroom, the students begin interrogating Emma about her uncle the cop. Ling expresses that he would be scared to be a cop which causes Sophia to make fun of Ling calling him “Ling-the-cling” and points out that Emma doesn’t have a dad. Ling tells Sophia that she is not being kind. Josh tries to distract the group by talking about how cool it would be to have a dad who is a police officer but Daniel pipes in to inform the group that his dad has an important job that requires him to wear a suit and tie every day. Emma becomes defensive and informs the group that what you wear to work does not dictate your importance and there is nothing more important than keeping people safe like her Uncle Manny. She goes on to say that her mom calls police officers’ heroes and Josh tells everyone about Uncle Manny’s funny jokes. Sophia shares that her mother is trying to get rid of all police officers and Daniel wishes they got to talk to a cooler version of a cop like a detective. Emma tries to defend her uncle by informing the group that her uncle makes a lot of money and bought her a new trampoline. Daniel calls Emma a “braggart” while Sophia makes fun of her clothing. Daniel decides it will be okay as long as Uncle Manny brings his gun and wears his uniform. Sophia shares that her mother believes that all cops should be in jail to give them a taste of their own medicine.
Ms. Garcia returns to the classroom as the students rush back to their desks. It is clear that Ms. Garcia has been crying. Josh & Emma speculate why she might be crying. Sophia tries to crack a joke that Ms. Garcia got in trouble with the principal which causes Ms. Garcia to snap a bit more harshly than she otherwise would have and tells the students to read quietly.
Across the city, the adults are in a web of phone calls. We learn that the school is on lockdown but it is hard to hear the whole conversations as they cut in and out and get covered by sirens. We learn there has been a police-involved shooting but none of the kids are hurt. Calvin is adamant that Josh not go to Emma’s house after school and bemoans moving to the better side of town just for this to happen. Bella fights back tears while Sue asks if she could watch Emma after school since Manny is otherwise occupied with the shooting. Bella agrees but is clearly overwhelmed and turns on the news. She opens her computer and begins to type a status update that is seen across the stage. “What is this violent world we’ve created for our children? I birthed songs but the world will treat them as mere statistics to fear.”
Josh and Emma arrive home from school speculating about what made all the teachers upset. It seems the school did not tell the students what was happening outside the walls of the building. Bella was not at the bus stop to meet them as she typically is which causes some concern for Josh. They enter the Perkins house to see the TV on and displaying the news of protests overwhelming police. Emma immediately becomes concerned for her uncle. Bella enters and quickly turns off the TV before the kids can see anymore. The kids recant their day to Bella of the teachers keeping a secret and being upset all day. Josh asks what happened but Bella wants to save the conversation for when Emma’s mom arrives.
Just then, Malcolm and Calvin enter the home and Malcolm is fired up. He loudly announces what happened, spoiling Bella’s plan to break the news slowly.
Back at Emma’s house, Emma asks her mother about the shooting. She asks why the police shot the Black man and Sue informs her it was a mistake. Emma references something she saw on the news at Josh’s house and Sue is quick to judge that the Perkins allowed the kids to watch the news coverage. Sue assures Emma that the police thought he had a gun but Emma challenges that Malcolm told her it was because the man was Black. Sue encourages her to ask Uncle Manny as it is never as simple as skin color. Emma begins to stumble over all the questions she has including why people are called Black or White, what her mom means by “not seeing color,” and if all Black people are angry with White people. This conversation exhausts Sue but Emma continues to list all the things she has heard at school, including that Black people are always mad. Sue attempts to explain the concept of prejudice. She explains that it is believing a negative thing about someone or a group of people who are different without any proof.
The phone rings and Emma becomes excited thinking it is Uncle Manny but it is one of her mom’s hair salon customers. Emma heads to her room with Poppy to think. She ponders if Sue is right and that a mad face is sometimes covering a sad heart.
Back at Josh’s house, his parents attempt to keep the dinner conversation light, but Malcolm keeps driving the conversation back to the shooting. He speculates that the police wouldn’t have even stopped the car if there was a White person in the car. Josh asks why and his mom explains that sometimes White people are treated better than Black people which isn’t fair. Malcolm exclaims that if he ever gets stopped by the police, he will… but is interrupted by his father who instructs him to do as he is told and fall in line. Malcolm tells his dad that he doesn’t need to be a principal at home and challenges the fact that as the principal, Calvin never tells his White students to obey police orders and fall in line to which Calvin responds that he doesn’t need to tell the White students because they are more likely to stay alive. He goes on to explain that Malcolm’s skin faces a system of inherent bias which causes Black people to get arrested at nine times the rate of White people. Therefore, he instructs his son to keep his hands visible, mouth shut, and movement slow if he is stopped by the police. Malcolm challenges that those were the rules back in his father’s time but in 2021, Black Lives Matter. This causes Calvin to show his temper when he exclaims that Black lives have always mattered. The conversation escalates into an argument as Malcolm encourages them to stand and fight and Calvin counters that they need to stay alive to fight. Josh asks why everyone is getting so angry and Calvin explains that they keep fighting the same fight and having the same conversations he had with his father when he was a kid. Bella worries that her husband is scaring the kids but Malcolm assures everyone that he isn’t scared. Calvin assures the kids that anger alone does little unless you use it to make things better. Bella encourages them to study Black leaders like Harriet Tubman, Dr. King, and Nelson Mandela because they were strong and smart. Josh proclaims that he is strong and smart so he can change the world. Malcolm is sullen and bemoans the fact that we are still repeating history and asks to be excused from the dinner table.
In Malcolm’s bedroom, we see his social media feed tick across the stage. He types “It’s about to jump off. We can’t wait for permission. We have to protest! We have to take to the streets.” Quietly, Josh enters and Malcolm reminds him not to snitch. Josh is scared and asks to sleep in his brother’s room for the night. Malcolm is watching the video of the shooting and Josh sees it over his brother’s shoulders. Malcolm explains that if he watches it enough times, he will never forget.
In Emma’s bedroom, she cradles her dog and picks up the phone to ensure it is working. Her uncle always calls every night to say goodnight, but he hasn’t called tonight. She worries he is hurt and ponders why people are so angry. She wonders why everyone can’t say sorry and move on. Why is everyone blaming the police?
We shift back to Malcolm’s bedroom where Josh is trying to sleep but can’t. He asks his brother where the phrase “pick your poison” comes from. Malcolm asks where he heard it and Josh tells him about Uncle Manny. This angers Malcolm and Josh becomes frustrated that Malcolm doesn’t answer his question. Malcolm begins a tirade about the shooting earlier in the day telling Josh that he won’t sugarcoat the information like their parents do. Josh asks if the shooting was an accident or if they did it on purpose. Malcolm explains racial profiling and police brutality. He explains that while Josh is seen as cute right now, he will one day be seen as a threat to the police. Josh worries that he could get shot, too, and suddenly Malcolm realizes that he has gone too far. Malcolm assures his little brother that he will protect him and begins to tease Josh about his stinky farts to lighten the mood. We again see Malcolm’s social media feed tick across the screen. It reads “Had to have the ‘real talk’ with my little brother. Didn’t mean to scare him but we all got to be soldiers in this war… Tomorrow night be there. #DowntownProtest #ProtestForJustice”
The next morning, Calvin drives the kids to school instead of having them take the bus as a precaution. Josh asks if they can give Emma a ride to school too but Malcolm protests that they would be more likely to get pulled over with a White girl in the car. Josh insists that she is his friend, but Calvin asserts that he will only drive his sons to school today until things “die down.” Malcolm points out the ironic nature of his word choice which causes Calvin to scold him. In his anger, Malcolm states that the only reason Emma is friends with Josh is because no one else likes her. Emma waves sadly from her driveway as the Perkins family drives away.
Emma is disheartened that her friend isn’t riding the bus with her and didn’t offer to give her a ride. Her mother attempts to comfort her by saying that Calvin is the principal and probably has a meeting but Emma isn’t convinced. Just then, Uncle Manny calls to check-in. He assures her that he is going to be okay and reminds her that career day is tomorrow. Emma hands the phone back to her mother and runs out the door to catch the bus. After she leaves, Sue continues the conversation asking Manny to tell her the truth about how bad it is. Manny explains that everyone is calling the cops murderers and at least 100 officers were injured and many quit. Manny describes how the precinct had to be boarded up due to looting and burning in the surrounding neighborhood. They bemoan the loss of businesses and Sue exclaims that if anyone attempted to vandalize her salon, they would have a “date with the undertaker.” Manny expresses that “Black lives matter, but so do blue lives” and promises to come over when he can.
Sue hangs up the phone and walks over to the Perkins house and rings the doorbell. Bella answers the door and feigns happiness at the wilted flowers Sue brought over. Sue tries to play it cool but blurts out her feelings about recent events. She explains that her family works in the police force so she knows well how horrible split-second decisions can be. Bella is taken aback and clarifies that what happened was not a split-second decision. Sue recoils and explains that she is feeling “just as distraught” as Bella over recent events, which Bella resents. They quickly realize that this conversation is not going to end well and decide to part ways. As she is leaving, Sue turns around and expresses that Emma doesn’t make friends easily so it would be a shame for her friendship with Josh to be ruined. Bella does not respond and shuts the door.
At recess, students are playing an intense game of soccer. Josh pushes past Emma to score a goal and is glowing in his achievement when Emma asks if he shoved her on purpose. She retaliates by shoving him back as the rest of the students begin to chant, “FIGHT!” The teacher interrupts the action and threatens to end recess early if the students cannot be kind. Emma asks Josh if he doesn’t want to be her friend anymore. Josh is shocked by the question and assures her that they are still friends, but Emma cites her concern over the school commute that morning. Josh explains that his dad is being extra careful right now.
Other students join the conversation and ask if Uncle Manny is still planning to attend career day. They begin discussing recent events and recounting what they have heard adults say about the events. Sophia explains that she saw the video. Ling voices concern that the video didn’t show what led up to the altercation. A few kids speculate that it might have been an accident. Sophia asks the group when a cop ever shot an Asian on accident. Daniel voices that the people marching are being “ridiculous” and that without cops, we wouldn’t have any law and order. Sophia is adamant that it is easy to call people ridiculous when people who look like you aren’t being shot in the back. Daniel challenges that people who look like him aren’t committing as many crimes. Emma stands behind her uncle and states that if you think cops are bad, maybe you are the bad one. This angers Sophia and Emma looks to Josh for backup. Josh starts to walk away and Emma chases him. She asks why he isn’t acting like her best friend and Josh states that he is only her best friend because no one else will be. The group leaves Emma alone.
That night at the Perkins house, Calvin and Malcolm are arguing over whether Malcolm can go to the protests with his friends. Malcolm assures his parents that everyone is going and it is all over social media. Calvin asserts that he does not care about social media and that it is too dangerous. Malcolm insists that this is his moment to make history but Calvin persists that his way to make history is by finishing his college applications. Malcolm challenges that at the rate police are killing Black men, he might not be alive to go to college. This scares Josh, so Bella pushes Josh upstairs to do homework, but Josh decides to hide on the stairs to continue listening. Bella urges Malcolm to be careful what he says around his little brother. Malcolm yells that he used to think his father was the bravest man in the world but now he realizes he is too scared to stand up for what he believes in, then storms upstairs.
The stage is split between both houses getting ready for bed. Sue is brushing Emma’s hair while Emma voices her concern that everyone is angry. Josh sneaks downstairs in his pajamas and the parents click on the news when they notice him. Josh asks if Malcolm is going to be mad at them forever and Calvin assures him that Malcolm is being a hot-headed teenager. Emma and Josh voice their frustration and confusion with their parents. Emma is confused about how Uncle Manny can be such a good man but people think he’s not because of his job. Sue explains that it is an unfair pattern that a few cops treat Black people differently. She goes on to explain that some cops are in the job for the wrong reasons and are mad, some are defending themselves, and some just make a mistake. Emma insists that the cops should say sorry when they do something wrong like she has to do. Sue explains that some mistakes are harder to correct than others and that they have to work to be fairer. Sue encourages Emma to make a new pattern. Emma is concerned that she will lose her friend and asks if Sue can tell Uncle Manny to not come to career day because people are mad at the cops, and if she brings Uncle Manny to school, they might be mad at her. She explains that even Josh has started treating her differently. At his house, Josh explains that he doesn’t like to fight or argue but everyone is mad. He is confused why people can’t just talk about it. Calvin challenges him to start by changing himself and be the kind of man he wants to see looking back at him in the mirror. They kiss him goodnight and send him back to bed. Bella tweets and we see her message tick across the stage. She asks Twitter, “How can I keep my little boy innocent in times like this?” Sue assures Emma that she understands the complicated situation she is in but encourages Emma to tell her uncle herself if she is un-inviting him to career day. Emma decides to sleep on it before making a decision.
Josh enters Malcolm’s bedroom and is shocked to see his brother packing a bag with a flashlight, snacks, and a hoodie with the clear intention to sneak out. Malcolm urges his brother to be quiet and continues to haul his bag out the window. Josh begins to panic when he sees Malcolm grab a hoodie and expresses concern that he might get shot if he wears a hoodie. Malcolm asserts that the risk of getting shot for wearing a hoodie is the exact reason he needs to protest. When Josh continues to protest, Malcolm puts a hand over his brother’s mouth and makes him promise to not tell their parents. Malcolm promises he will be safe and that he will be back by the time they all wake up. Josh tries to sleep in Malcolm’s bed and wait for him to come back but Malcolm instructs him to lock the door to his bedroom and tell everyone that Malcolm went to bed early so they won’t ask questions. Josh is worried about lying to his parents but Malcolm reminds him of the “Brothers Code” before slipping out the window. Josh is clearly anxious and, despite his brother’s instructions, curls up in Malcolm’s bed and pulls the covers tightly over his head.
Time passes and Calvin slips into Malcolm’s room to find Josh asleep in the bed. Calvin begins to panic and shakes Josh awake. Calvin threatens to spank Josh unless he tells them everything he knows about where Malcolm went. Bella runs in tying her robe. Josh cries that he promised Malcolm that he wouldn’t tell but Calvin is insistent. Josh tells them that Malcolm went to the protest and Bella cries that they need to go look for him, but Malcolm took the family’s only car. They debate calling the police but decide against it. Calvin expresses his disappointment in Josh for not telling them sooner and storms out. Josh apologizes to his mother and she assures him that the Brothers Code can be broken if telling keeps Malcolm safe. They decide to talk about it more in the morning and Bella exits to the living room. We see her social media status tick across the screen, “This is torture, the night all parents dread…”
Calvin joins Bella in the living room and they turn on the news. Calvin expresses that the looters are defeating the entire point of the protest. Bella empathizes with the protesters saying that they must feel like their lives are worthless. Calvin worries that violence begets violence and all people will remember is Black folks being violent.
Suddenly, Calvin thinks he spots Malcolm on the television but is mistaken. His frustration is starting to boil over as we see Josh take his hiding place on the stairs to listen. A car drives by the house and both parents jump up to see if it is Malcolm. The family is clearly on edge. Just as they begin to settle again, a car drives up the driveway. It is Manny’s police car and Malcolm is handcuffed. Manny is wearing riot gear. The two stop outside the house before entering. Manny takes off the handcuffs but makes Malcolm promise he will remember what they feel like. Malcolm is disrespectful and Manny reminds him that he has the power to actually arrest him if he keeps it up, instead of just delivering him home. Malcolm challenges Manny to arrest him, as he didn’t do anything wrong. He wasn’t anywhere near the store being looted and says that all Black people look the same to cops.
Calvin opens the door and lets the pair into the house. Bella hugs Malcolm and ensures he is okay before sending him upstairs. Manny assures the couple that he didn’t officially arrest Malcolm, even though he was suspected to be involved in a robbery. Calvin assures Manny that his son doesn’t have a reason to steal anything. Manny comments that Malcolm will make a great lawyer because he knows how to run his mouth. This makes the family smile and Bella offers Manny some coffee.
Upstairs, Josh attacks Malcolm with a giant bear hug. Malcolm clearly loves it but warns Josh that he is covered in chemicals. Malcolm exits to shower but Josh stops him to assure his brother that he tried to keep his secret. Malcolm comforts his brother that he did the right thing before leaving.
Back at the top of the stairs, Josh listens to the adult conversation. Manny expresses his worry about what could’ve happened if another cop had found Malcolm instead of him. Manny explains that being a cop means that everyone hates you but Calvin reminds him that he gets to hang up his uniform at the end of the night and stop being a cop. Manny agrees that it is harder for Black folks as Black lives do matter and Calvin comments that they shouldn’t only matter after they are dead. Manny asks where they can go from here and Calvin begins to bristle. Manny suggests that Black folks should have more respect for the badge and recognize what they do right, but Calvin challenges that the police need to take responsibility for what they do wrong first. Manny becomes heated and declares that he is only trying to stop “your people from killing and gang banging or maiming each other on a daily basis.” This pushes Calvin over the edge and prompts him to ask how much training Manny has actually had that qualifies him to make life or death decisions on a daily basis. Manny suggests that Calvin try to live without the cops for a while and then figure out who to call when someone breaks in or assaults your family. Bella interrupts the action to remind the men that they can’t get anywhere if they can’t listen to each other. Manny admits that he can’t speak for all cops and that being a cop is a tough job. He admits that they were probably some “racist s-o-bs” on the force and Calvin challenges that they shouldn’t be cops. Manny assures Calvin that everyone has biases and that most cops are trying to do their job the best they can. Manny explains that he puts his life on the line every day to protect the city and make Josh and Emma feel like the world is safe for them. Calvin starts to retaliate but Manny interrupts him and says he doesn’t want to hear it unless he has a solution to end all the division in the country. Calvin stops and takes a breath. They agree that they need to stop repeating this country’s painful history. Calvin extends his hand and thanks Manny for bringing his son home, acknowledging that he could have made a different choice. They shake hands and Calvin asks for a ride finding his car wherever Malcolm left it. They agree and Manny escapes for a moment to say hello to Emma before heading back to the protest.
In his room, Malcolm updates his status as we see his words tick across the stage: “It was a long night. Almost got arrested for nothing. But I’m home. Could’ve been in jail…split-second decision. #ItsComplicated.”
In the Hartley house, Manny tiptoes up to Emma’s room where she is sleeping. Emma stirs enough to ask Manny not to come to school for career day and promises when people start liking cops again, he can come. Manny asks if she is still proud he is a cop. She hesitates and says she used to be. He assures that he won’t come to embarrass her to make her uncomfortable, but this conversation clearly hurt Uncle Manny.
The next morning, Bella is at the computer updating her status as we see it tick across the screen: “I’m so grateful; my son could’ve been a victim last night or God forbid, processed into the correctional system. Instead, he was escorted home by a good man, a man who wore the badge but showed the heart underneath.”
Josh appears at the top of the stairs dressed and ready for school. Bella voices her surprise that he is ready so early but Josh explains that he needs to talk to Emma before school. Bella is hesitant to allow it because Manny is in the front yard but this excites Josh even more. He runs out the door and Calvin comments that maybe they could learn something from their son.
In Emma’s yard, Josh excitedly greets Manny. Manny asks if Josh would be willing to keep an eye on Emma for him at school. Manny reflects that all the upheaval has been hard on Emma and Josh explains that it has been hard on everyone. Manny tells Josh that he isn’t coming to career day which upsets Josh. Josh explains that it is important for people to see good cops like him. Just then, Manny’s radio goes off and he exits with a wave.
At school, Ms. Garcia introduces a new student, Omad, to the class and explains that Omad has traveled to the United States from Abu Dhabi. Omad tries to introduce himself, but his English is broken and some kids snicker. Ling comments that his clothing looks funny. At recess, the kids team up for a game of soccer. Josh wants to invite Omad to join the game but Daniel is certain that he won’t know how. Sophia agrees and comments that he doesn’t even know how to speak English. Emma retaliates that he doesn’t need to know English to know how to kick a ball and Ling adds that not everyone in his family can speak English, but they all know how to have fun. Josh thinks they might be able to teach him English. Daniel becomes angry and declares that if Josh continues to push it, Josh won’t be able to play either. Josh takes a courageous breath and tells Daniel to “Step off.” This angers Daniel who questions who’s side Josh is on. Emma comments that Daniel and Sophia are being prejudiced and encourages them to make a new pattern which causes Daniel to tell her to “shut up” and call her a crazy psycho. Sophia suddenly changes heart and recalls when she was a new kid and nobody liked her because her beads made noise and her hair was different. Josh exclaims that they need to give Omad a chance because he might become friends or even best friends like him and Emma. This causes Emma to be surprised and relieved that she and Josh are still best friends. She comments and her and Josh are different but still friends. From the other end of the playground, Omad kicks a ball perfectly. It is clear he knows how to play soccer well. The kids are all impressed and the ball comes to a stop at Uncle Manny’s feet. Emma screeches with pleasure at seeing her uncle and apologizes for un-inviting him to the career day. Manny greets the kids and they giggle at all his jokes. Sophia compliments his uniform. The kids head inside with Uncle Manny. Omad is nervous to join the group but everyone encourages him. Josh pulls Uncle Manny aside and asks if he thinks he could grow up to be a police officer one day. This makes Uncle Manny proud.