In All American Boys, Quinn thinks, "No one wants to think he's being a racist, but maybe it's a bigger problem, like everyone was just ignoring it, like it was invisible." Later, Quinn's mother says to him, "Even if it's ugly at school, it's not your fight. Why are you jumping into the middle of this?" Whose fight is it?

Although Quinn's mother seems to think that those who are fighting (or should be fighting) are only minorities, the overall message of All American Boys is that racial equality is everyone's fight.

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Throughout the novel All American Boys, Quinn is torn between loyalty to his friends, particularly the policeman Paul, and a broader idea of racial justice. Quinn witnesses his good friend and policeman Paul brutalize one of his classmates, Rashad. Throughout much of the novel, Quinn attempts to stay neutral, not necessarily agreeing with Paul's brutality, but not speaking out against Paul at the risk of losing his friends, particularly Paul and Guzzo (Paul's younger brother).

Several people in his life encourage him to stay neutral, including his basketball coach and his mother. For these people, if one is not directly affected by racial inequality, there is no reason to fight. There are many things in life that are more important (basketball, scholarships), and it is up to those people who have experienced police brutality, like Rashad, to make a stand.

The larger message of the novel, however, is that if you are doing nothing, then you are part of the problem. By staying neutral and not speaking out for either Paul or Rashad, Quinn is alienated from most of his peers. Further, Quinn is haunted by the memory of his father, who was killed in war. Quinn feels that his father, who died fighting for others' freedoms, is one of the bravest people he knows, and he constantly struggles to honor his father's sacrifice.

If this is the case, it means that Quinn too should become a part of the fight and standing up for what he believes is right. His crush, Jill (Paul and Guzzo's cousin), encourages him to be more vocal about racial justice. In this case, the fight against racial inequality is everyone's fight, not just a small group of people.

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