Hot Best Seller

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir

Availability: Ready to download

A poetic and powerful memoir about what it means to be a Black woman in America—and the co-founding of a movement that demands justice for all in the land of the free. Raised by a single mother in an impoverished neighborhood in Los Angeles, Patrisse Khan-Cullors experienced firsthand the prejudice and persecution Black Americans endure at the hands of law enforcement. For A poetic and powerful memoir about what it means to be a Black woman in America—and the co-founding of a movement that demands justice for all in the land of the free. Raised by a single mother in an impoverished neighborhood in Los Angeles, Patrisse Khan-Cullors experienced firsthand the prejudice and persecution Black Americans endure at the hands of law enforcement. For Patrisse, the most vulnerable people in the country are Black people. Deliberately and ruthlessly targeted by a criminal justice system serving a white privilege agenda, Black people are subjected to unjustifiable racial profiling and police brutality. In 2013, when Trayvon Martin’s killer went free, Patrisse’s outrage led her to co-found Black Lives Matter with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. Condemned as terrorists and as a threat to America, these loving women founded a hashtag that birthed the movement to demand accountability from the authorities who continually turn a blind eye to the injustices inflicted upon people of Black and Brown skin. Championing human rights in the face of violent racism, Patrisse is a survivor. She transformed her personal pain into political power, giving voice to a people suffering in equality and a movement fueled by her strength and love to tell the country—and the world—that Black Lives Matter. When They Call You a Terrorist is Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele’s reflection on humanity. It is an empowering account of survival, strength and resilience and a call to action to change the culture that declares innocent Black life expendable.


Compare

A poetic and powerful memoir about what it means to be a Black woman in America—and the co-founding of a movement that demands justice for all in the land of the free. Raised by a single mother in an impoverished neighborhood in Los Angeles, Patrisse Khan-Cullors experienced firsthand the prejudice and persecution Black Americans endure at the hands of law enforcement. For A poetic and powerful memoir about what it means to be a Black woman in America—and the co-founding of a movement that demands justice for all in the land of the free. Raised by a single mother in an impoverished neighborhood in Los Angeles, Patrisse Khan-Cullors experienced firsthand the prejudice and persecution Black Americans endure at the hands of law enforcement. For Patrisse, the most vulnerable people in the country are Black people. Deliberately and ruthlessly targeted by a criminal justice system serving a white privilege agenda, Black people are subjected to unjustifiable racial profiling and police brutality. In 2013, when Trayvon Martin’s killer went free, Patrisse’s outrage led her to co-found Black Lives Matter with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. Condemned as terrorists and as a threat to America, these loving women founded a hashtag that birthed the movement to demand accountability from the authorities who continually turn a blind eye to the injustices inflicted upon people of Black and Brown skin. Championing human rights in the face of violent racism, Patrisse is a survivor. She transformed her personal pain into political power, giving voice to a people suffering in equality and a movement fueled by her strength and love to tell the country—and the world—that Black Lives Matter. When They Call You a Terrorist is Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele’s reflection on humanity. It is an empowering account of survival, strength and resilience and a call to action to change the culture that declares innocent Black life expendable.

30 review for When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Michelle

    I am not black. I am not queer. I am not a former prisoner, have never been in jail or had family in jail. I grew up poor, but I have no idea. No. Idea. Whatsoever. I have never had family ripped from their beds by police in the middle of the night just because they "might" fit the profile of someone the police are looking for. I was [nor were any of my friends] never thrown in jail just for hanging out together. I have never been shot at just for having different color skin than those around I am not black. I am not queer. I am not a former prisoner, have never been in jail or had family in jail. I grew up poor, but I have no idea. No. Idea. Whatsoever. I have never had family ripped from their beds by police in the middle of the night just because they "might" fit the profile of someone the police are looking for. I was [nor were any of my friends] never thrown in jail just for hanging out together. I have never been shot at just for having different color skin than those around me. I have never had to live in fear of being pulled over by police [and possibly being shot and dying] simply because of the color of my skin. I have never had to live in fear and be afraid of retribution or jail or attacks simply for who I have chosen to both be and love. I am a cis, white female who strives daily to preach and believe in equality for all. I used to believe I was knowledgeable in this topic. I was wrong. This book has completely changed me. I spent much of it crying and apologizing for the atrocities that have been inflicted on Patrisse, her family, her chosen family and indeed, all black lives and POC. This book humbled me. It reminded me of how much I DO NOT KNOW. And that head knowledge is not the same as heart and life knowledge. But it DID teach me. It made me angry. And it reminded me over and over again that I. HAVE. NO. CLUE. It reminded me that I do have to learn; I had to educate myself and then get involved. I have to practice more compassion and empathy. I have to fight harder against injustice. And I have to let go of the fear of what people think of me when I stand up for what I believe is right because clearly, THAT is not a true fear. This book educated me. This book reminded me of who I want to be as a human being. This book should be required reading for everyone. May we all strive to make this a world where everyone belongs and lives without fear. #BlackLivesMatter

  2. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Schwab

    Oh man, a difficult, but powerful book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mario the lone bookwolf (semi reviewing hiatus )

    A very important work, using shocking autobiographical experiences to show and transport what it means to be systematically discriminated against throughout one´s whole life, opening the eyes of the privileged ones who have the potential and influence to help boosting a change after half a century of deliberately diminishing the quality of life, chances, and potential of black people. „You are fighting for your rights after centuries of unspeakable atrocities, mass impoverishment, a lack of dist A very important work, using shocking autobiographical experiences to show and transport what it means to be systematically discriminated against throughout one´s whole life, opening the eyes of the privileged ones who have the potential and influence to help boosting a change after half a century of deliberately diminishing the quality of life, chances, and potential of black people. „You are fighting for your rights after centuries of unspeakable atrocities, mass impoverishment, a lack of distributive justice, genocides, prison industry complexes, slavery, mass murders, hate, police brutality, and racism? Seems as if you are a dangerous extremist, maybe even a terrorist.“ That´s the only option for the conservative forces, such as Nixon and many others, behind downplaying the past and current injustices they helped causing and aggravating, because if they would let an open, scientific, fact based debate, maybe even including ethics and morality, happen, they would lose and have to explain cruelty, exploitation, and massive media manipulation. So their only option is to use as many unfair, illogical, and wrong propaganda techniques as possible to make the victims of a decade long war of a government against its own citizens look like perpetrators and aggressors. There are different reasons and motivations for disliking activism for people not directly involved. Refusing any kind of activism, because it could lead to the insight of one´s own indifference, cognitive bias, and thereby criticism by others. Not making any distinction between pro sustainability and equality activism such as environment, anti racism, environmental protection,… and religious and extreme far right and left activism without peaceful civil disobedience and protest. Preferring divide and rule, not wanting people to organize and become real political factors and powers, because one likes money and much of it. Etc. That democratic, Western governments all over the world are trying to make it more and more difficult and dangerous to be active, enable law enforcement and private security firms to attack peaceful protesters, built Orwellian surveillance systems like directly fresh out of the textbook, is the more meta level of trying to keep protests small and attack women protesting for their rights. Even white supremacists get more tolerance by this system than the victims of their hate. How media instrumentalize and mischievously misinterpret the real agenda of the protesters to make them seem more dangerous, mislead, and wrong, is the icing on the cake of individual and collective prejudices, stereotypes, and anachronistic thinking. Chris Rock and David Chappelle, two of the most ingenious comedians, whose works should be mandatory readings in school, possibly together with George Carlin and many other sarcastic social critics, made racial prejudice and its immense stupidity a main element of their careers and sensitized millions of people for topics nobody wants, dares, or can openly talk about, especially in mainstream news media. It would imply too many correlations to the whole, sick, dysfunctional democratic system. One of the options to not go mad, angry, or sad might be to continue their work by showing the illogical madness using hard facts and fight it with laughter, spread groundbreaking, progressive novels like this one, and oppose the anachronistic institutions by ridiculing them. A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this completely overrated real life outside books: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prejudice https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrim... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultura... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaga... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_m... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychol... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychol... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarce... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compari... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison%... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retribu... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restora... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangu... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neocolo... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neolibe... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_His... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macrohi...

  4. 5 out of 5

    mindful.librarian ☀️

    A heartbreaking read. I was expecting the whole book to be about the immediate genesis of #blacklivesmatter, but it is really a true memoir in the sense that it gives Khan-Cullors' life story and how the horrors that befell her family and community led to this work. It opened my eyes, and while I used to consider myself fairly knowledgeable on this topic, this book humbled me and reminded me I do NOT really know. It also taught me just how diverse the movement is, with a large percentage of the A heartbreaking read. I was expecting the whole book to be about the immediate genesis of #blacklivesmatter, but it is really a true memoir in the sense that it gives Khan-Cullors' life story and how the horrors that befell her family and community led to this work. It opened my eyes, and while I used to consider myself fairly knowledgeable on this topic, this book humbled me and reminded me I do NOT really know. It also taught me just how diverse the movement is, with a large percentage of the founding activists being Queer and non-gender-conforming. As a white, cis reader, I will not attempt to actually review this work beyond saying that it provided an education I very, very much needed. Required reading for all. ** Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the review copy of this title - all opinions are my own. **

  5. 5 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Rage Against Poverty and Police Racial hatred is the root evil of society. It is the emblem and model for all other kinds of prejudice and exclusion. Its core is in language which is used to degrade and ostracise. Where it exists it poisons society against itself. When it is tolerated, it dominates the life of society. When such tolerance is rationalised as a matter of personal right or necessary for social stability, any attempt to eliminate it is perceived as an act of terrorism. This is the ca Rage Against Poverty and Police Racial hatred is the root evil of society. It is the emblem and model for all other kinds of prejudice and exclusion. Its core is in language which is used to degrade and ostracise. Where it exists it poisons society against itself. When it is tolerated, it dominates the life of society. When such tolerance is rationalised as a matter of personal right or necessary for social stability, any attempt to eliminate it is perceived as an act of terrorism. This is the capstone, the Trump card, one might say, of the inherently racial society. And it deserves to be raged at. Patrisse Khan-Cullors started Black Lives Matter. The poetic force of rage in the phrase alone is enough to get her designated a terrorist in American society. It points directly to how language is used as the primary means of oppression. Angela Davis’s introduction makes the essential point: “No white supremacist purveyor of violence has ever, to my knowledge, been labeled a terrorist by the state.” But three poor non-white women who refuse to be crushed by that society are, just for the phrase alone. There is no question but that the law enforcement in the United States has been explicitly designed to subjugate black people. Khan-Cullors quotes John Ehrlichmann, Nixon’s Head of Domestic policy: “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be … black, but by getting the public to associate the … blacks with heroin … and then criminalizing [them] heavily, we could disrupt [their] communities … Did we know we were lying? Of course we did.” This linguistic strategy has become an integral part of American culture, virtually a theological principle, “a God gone astray in the flesh” as Paul Valery called this sort of linguistic abuse. Nixon turned regional racial prejudice into a national political force. He injected the virus of racial hatred that had thrived in the former slaves states into the body of the entire country. He did it more or less openly - not through the courts, which had been constrained by legislation, but through the police, which became the tools of what other writers have called the New Jim Crow, a regime of barely legalised persecution, including unwarranted and unjustifiable death. Crucially, he defused the rage, he made it suspect. Nixon’s political genius has stood the test of time. He knew his audience. He successfully alienated black America from the rest of society and neutralised its political power. The fabric of communities was systematically destroyed, and with that their threatened electoral importance. The system of marginalisation worked even better than it had during the period of Reconstruction after the Civil War because it could be carried out under the headline of Crime Reduction - the ideal rationalisation for a racism that no longer needed to justify itself. Justice had become the dialectical opposite of Law & Order. Racial hatred is the central political and sociological fact in America. Race is not a sideshow; it is, and always has been, the main event. Nixon and his successors have provided political excuses and distractions in order to ignore race. Black Lives Matter makes that less possible by bringing back the rage which is the only ethical response appropriate to the situation.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Shirley Revill

    A book that everyone should read because it carries such a strong but equally sad message. I find it sad that people can be treated differently by some people just because of the colour of their skin. To me we are all the same and what really matters is the love we have for each other, that's the important thing. All lives matter but till the day arrives that people realise this I can only live in hope that one day this will become a reality.

  7. 5 out of 5

    PattyMacDotComma

    4.5★ #BLM #Juneteenth “I also think about men like Brock Turner, the Stanford star swimmer, who raped a woman and got six months. Six months because the judge said Turner couldn’t make it in prison, that prison wasn’t for him. But it was made for Richie? For Monte? For my father? My God. Is that not reason enough to shut it down? . . . I wonder if any of our kids ever get the proverbial slap on the wrist. The ‘C’mon son. You can do better than this.’ The ‘Let’s go talk to his parents. Maybe he ne 4.5★ #BLM #Juneteenth “I also think about men like Brock Turner, the Stanford star swimmer, who raped a woman and got six months. Six months because the judge said Turner couldn’t make it in prison, that prison wasn’t for him. But it was made for Richie? For Monte? For my father? My God. Is that not reason enough to shut it down? . . . I wonder if any of our kids ever get the proverbial slap on the wrist. The ‘C’mon son. You can do better than this.’ The ‘Let’s go talk to his parents. Maybe he needs therapy.’ Did anyone in law enforcement ever say about one of our kids, ‘Jail would destroy him, so let’s find another way to help.’ Did we ever get a first chance, let alone a second? If only. No chances at all, to speak of. The author, Patrisse Khan-Cullors is the co-founder of Black Lives Matter. She is passionate, committed, proud and loud. She and #BLM will not be overlooked! Her memoir of a poor, black childhood in Van Nuys, California, is compelling and uncomfortable reading. She was pretty happy through grade school, but like other kids in her neighbourhood, her family had members in and out of prison, often for offenses for which a middle-class white person would have been acquitted or given a milder sentence. “For my brothers, and especially for Monte, learning that they did not matter, that they were expendable, began in the streets, began while they were hanging out with friends, began while they were literally breathing while Black. The extraordinary presence of police in our communities, a result of a drug war aimed at us, despite our never using or selling drugs more than unpoliced white children, ensured that we all knew this.” To complicate matters, Patrisse’s family lives in a predominantly Mexican neighbourhood, so they identify a lot with their friends there. But once you’re picked up and put in prison, here’s what happens. Note that being white just changes which gang adopts you. “My Black brother who had grown up around Mexicans and sought to identify with them behind the wall, finds that in prison the lines are different. Blacks are only allowed to stay with Blacks. Mexicans with Mexicans. Whites with whites. Even young white boys who go to prison—they are forced to join Aryan gangs no matter what they really believe. It is how you stay alive.” There does come a point when a lot of young Blacks wonder if it’s worth trying to stay alive. They are targets form the time they are born, and it's not just the boys. “Black girls are rendered disposable in schools, unwanted, unloved. Twelve percent of us receive at least one suspension during our school careers while our white (girl) counterparts are suspended at a rate of 2 percent. In Wisconsin the rate is actually 21 percent for Black girls but 2 percent for white girls.” The author delves into her own very personal story of growing up queer-or-maybe-bi-or-maybe . . . She’s never quite sure, but we meet her various partners, both lovers and activists, sometimes the same thing. She also reveals the difficulties of being raised by a mother who worked three jobs, “from can’t see in the morning until can’t see at night.” Her neighbourhood was right next door to upmarket Sherman Oaks, so she knew who needed to be lobbied. When she decided to hit the streets for real on behalf of Trayvon Martin and all the innocent kids and others who have been killed for no reason at all with no perpetrators jailed, she started in the rich neighbourhoods. I will let her tell it in her own words but will edit out much of the excellent description in the interests of brevity. (I know - I’m never brief.) “We decide, for that first march, to go to Beverly Hills, to Rodeo Drive, where the wealthiest and mostly white people shop and socialize. All the other marches had been in Black communities, but Black communities know what the crisis is. We want to say before those who do not think about it what it means to live your whole life under surveillance, your life as the bull’s-eye. . . . in the meetings we have in the Village, . . . we, mostly women, talk about what we deserve. We say we deserve another knowing, the knowing that comes when you assume your life will be long, will be vibrant, will be healthy. . . . We deserve, we say, what so many others take for granted: decent food, . . . And shelter. We deserve that too. Not the shelter that’s lined with asbestos in the walls, or walls that are too thin to keep out the cold. Not the shelter with pipes that pour lead-based water onto our skin, down our throats in Flint, in North Dakota, in New York, in Mississippi. . . . We deserve to be our own gardeners and deserve to have gardeners. Mentors and teachers who bring the sunlight, the rain, the whispered voices above the seedling that say, Grow, baby, grow. . . . And we take that message to the people in Beverly Hills, on Rodeo Drive, . . . We say that this is what we mean when we say Black Lives Matter. . . I say that we were not born to bury our children. . . I ask the people who are lunching, perhaps spending more on a single lunch than many of us spend to feed our families for an entire week, to remember the dead and to remember that once they were alive and that their lives mattered. They mattered then and they matter now. And then I ask the people there on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills to please just stop for a moment, to hold space for Trayvon Martin, to hold space for his parents left in grief and an unspeakable pain. And when I do that it seems like the police are going to pounce; they move in closer and closer and I am scared. But I ask again for a moment of remembrance for Trayvon, and as far as I can tell, every single person within reach of my voice, and all of them white as far as I can see, puts down their champagne glass and their silver fork and stops checking their phone or having their conversation and then every last one of them bows their head.” We should all bow our heads. And then we should all support Black Lives Matter - because they do.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    What a powerful memoir, both about a movement and a woman's strength in the face of absolute racism and horror. Patrisse Khan-Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, shares her story about growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in Los Angeles in a poor and loving family. We learn about the intimacies of her childhood, about how her mother worked multiple jobs and still struggled to make a living wage, the development of her queer identity, her brother's unjust and devastating What a powerful memoir, both about a movement and a woman's strength in the face of absolute racism and horror. Patrisse Khan-Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, shares her story about growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in Los Angeles in a poor and loving family. We learn about the intimacies of her childhood, about how her mother worked multiple jobs and still struggled to make a living wage, the development of her queer identity, her brother's unjust and devastating imprisonment, and more. My heart broke for Khan-Cullors when she wrote about how the police terrorized her family. She does an excellent job of connecting the personal with the political, by describing her emotional reactions with raw, vivid language while also holding systems, like white supremacy and the police state, accountable. The second part of the book delves more into the development of the Black Lives Matter movement. As a non-black person of color, I know I need to interrogate my anti-black racism and the various privileges I had growing up in the United States without black skin, and I must do more to support the BLM movement. I hope that others non-black people of color - and white people, of course - will do this work as well. While Khan-Cullors shows phenomenal resolve in her dedication to justice through the formation of this movement and others, we all should do more to fight for black lives (the movement's website looks like a good place to start.) Overall, recommended to everyone. My Goodreads friend Gabriella voices some nuanced criticism of the book in her review; I agree with her the points raised in her review generally and recognize she is in more of a position to speak about these critiques than me. I feel grateful for Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele yet heartbroken and angry for what the racism that thety, and black lives collectively, must endure.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gabriella

    So, I want to start this review by saying how much I appreciate the incredible dedication Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele have to black people both in and outside of this country. I had the pleasure of hearing Khan-Cullors speak back in my freshman year of college, and so when I found out she was releasing a memoir, it was quickly added to my TBR. When They Call You a Terrorist is an incredibly brave book, filled with deeply personal experiences I’m sure took years to process. Nowadays, pe So, I want to start this review by saying how much I appreciate the incredible dedication Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele have to black people both in and outside of this country. I had the pleasure of hearing Khan-Cullors speak back in my freshman year of college, and so when I found out she was releasing a memoir, it was quickly added to my TBR. When They Call You a Terrorist is an incredibly brave book, filled with deeply personal experiences I’m sure took years to process. Nowadays, people often talk about doing the therapeutic “work” they need to thrive in this world, as well as the movement “work” that helps ensure others can do the same. In this memoir, it is clear that Khan-Cullors has done both, probing her life’s challenges, heartbreaks, and joys for their greater purpose and for her greater calling (BLM activism.) This dual “work” allows Khan-Cullors to seamlessly travel between her personal experiences and systemic issues, in a way that made this memoir seem like her own story, but also so much more than just that. For example, she’ll begin with an anecdote about her her harsh punishment in a local school, and then extend it to the educational plights of black girls across the country, referencing books like Monique Morris' Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools. Though she has a formal acknowledgments section, I felt like this whole book was an extended one—she is always citing her intellectual and political sources, as well as her emotional support systems throughout different stages of her life. I was most moved by seeing all the ways she learned to not just care for others, but to be cared for and supported by her chosen family members. With that said, I didn’t really find this book to be a great start to my challenge for Pride month. I’ve always been inspired and encouraged to know all of the founders of Black Lives Matter are black queer women, and so I expected a BUNCH more from her memoir where sexuality is concerned. To be so very reflective in many other places, I felt like her discussion of sexual identity was pretty lukewarm—she constantly mentions how many of her co-organizers are queer, but she rarely delves into their experiences of oppression with equal energy. To be honest, I was really shocked to find that the romantic relationship she most passionately and extensively describes is her marriage to a cishet man. I understand that this is a memoir, and she can’t change her life story, but it just felt a bit disjointed, since her current marriage (to a genderqueer activist from Canada) gets much less attention. I found this (cishet) male centrism in many other places in the memoir, and I think a couple of times, it really felt like she was becoming an apologist for some inexcusable behavior. When discussing her brother’s struggles with mental illness, she casually mentions how it caused him to become abusive towards his girlfriend and child (once destroying many objects in the woman’s home in a fit of rage), but doesn’t really focus on the wrong in his actions. She takes a lot of care to explain to us that her brother, Monte, is led to such actions because of very traumatic and unjust violence inflicted upon him while incarcerated, but I think she doesn’t account for the fact that he still harmed people, even while being a victim himself. There are many other places where it seems like she’s once again overlooking toxic masculinity and the pain it causes black women, in order to show sympathy for black men (“calling the cops is a worse option than getting your ass kicked.”) Due to Khan-Cullors’ extensive work on behalf of black women and queer folks, it was just really strange to feel this memoir prioritizing black cishet men in this way. One of the biggest internal critiques of BLM is how the movement has been co-opted away from its feminist origins. Many times, I don’t think Khan-Cullors addresses the ways in which the (predominantly) cishet men she organizes this book around don’t necessarily return the favor. While still incredibly powerful, I don’t feel that her story really embraced the complexities and harm black organizers who are also queer, (or female, or gender non-conforming, etc.) experience within their own activist circles. I would’ve loved to hear more about what she had to say about these issues, but sadly, I didn’t this time around. I want to end by focusing on some other BLM activists who are releasing memoirs soon. One thing I appreciate about the current black literary scene is that more than one activist’s story can be published, so we have more than one opportunity to delve into these topics. Darnell Moore’s No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America came out earlier this week, and Charlene Carruthers' Unapologetic: A Black, Queer and Feminist Mandate for Our Movement drops in August, so maybe they’ll pick up where Khan-Cullors and bandele left off.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    When They Call You a Terrorist is a soon to be classic in black literary thought and canon. This is a stunning memoir that poignantly captures the vitality of Patrisse and her family's strong spirit and determination struggling against brutal and relentless injustice. bandele's signature writing style is prevalent and gives Khan-Cullors narrative an almost poetic feel. This memoir packs all of the fire, all the receipts and brings down the full weight of harm perpetuated in the black community. When They Call You a Terrorist is a soon to be classic in black literary thought and canon. This is a stunning memoir that poignantly captures the vitality of Patrisse and her family's strong spirit and determination struggling against brutal and relentless injustice. bandele's signature writing style is prevalent and gives Khan-Cullors narrative an almost poetic feel. This memoir packs all of the fire, all the receipts and brings down the full weight of harm perpetuated in the black community. To read more of this review, see some of my pictures from Tampa's MLK Day Parade, and to see a book trailer about this stunning memoir CLICK HERE.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Raymond

    This memoir is beautifully written. Patrisse Khan-Cullors is one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. This book is her story. It is about the effects of mass incarceration and the war on drugs, all on this one woman and her family. Patrisse lived under all these pressures. It is not surprising that she became an activist when you see what she lived through. This book is not a story of a terrorist as some have called BLM activists. It is a story of survival, perseverance, and the e This memoir is beautifully written. Patrisse Khan-Cullors is one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. This book is her story. It is about the effects of mass incarceration and the war on drugs, all on this one woman and her family. Patrisse lived under all these pressures. It is not surprising that she became an activist when you see what she lived through. This book is not a story of a terrorist as some have called BLM activists. It is a story of survival, perseverance, and the endless pursuit of freedom.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    A really interesting and passionate memoir by one of the founders of Black Lives Matter movement. Patrisse Khan-Cullors' story is weirdly both traumatizing and full of love. Maybe not so weird for a low income, African-American family in an urban environment. Of course Cullors' family fulfills none of the stereotypes with which they are victimized . In fact that's a huge part of what this book is: the stripping of labels and stereotypes. Within this memoir is the story of a very intelligent, art A really interesting and passionate memoir by one of the founders of Black Lives Matter movement. Patrisse Khan-Cullors' story is weirdly both traumatizing and full of love. Maybe not so weird for a low income, African-American family in an urban environment. Of course Cullors' family fulfills none of the stereotypes with which they are victimized . In fact that's a huge part of what this book is: the stripping of labels and stereotypes. Within this memoir is the story of a very intelligent, articulate, complex woman dealing with the effects of cultural and systemic racism and bigotry. Never given opportunities for advancement or redemption. The worst is always assumed to awful results. The systemic racism here is from multiple sources. Of course an American economic structure that denies opportunity to people of color through poor/underfunded schools. The dominoes fall, low education equals little economic independence or security. A system of law enforcement that assumes that black men are guilty of whatever criminal intent crosses their minds. Every action considered hostile. A system of laws that conclude that black men convicted of crimes do not deserve any mercy or government support. Nor do their families. A system that attacks not just physically but with words and laws. Her unarmed brother who suffers from mental illness was having a manic attack was charged with terrorism. Add to that the cultural and religious stigmas that compound her life. She identifies as a lesbian and her extended family (led by a single mother who had children out of wedlock) are very devout Jehovah Witnesses. Very unforgiving of a multitude of life challenges and what people must do to overcome them. Cullors' compelling story that exemplifies a lived experience that keenly illustrates the principles behind much of the Black Lives matter movement. Towards the end, the book started to suffer when Cullors begins casually mentioning very pointed political statements and assessments without context or supporting information. A youthful indulgence that impacted my overall impressions of the book. I thought this was a worthwhile, valuable and important memoir. Through Cullors' life, people can understand the passion, the injustice, the unfairness of the system currently in place and the need for immediate change. Cullors provides much needed perspective; I can only hope that our national leaders are receiving the message. 4+ Stars Listened to the audio book. Narrated by the author; Patrisse Khan-Cullors was excellent!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stacie C

    When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele We live in a world where we need to tell people that Black Lives Matter. It’s not meant to say other lives don’t matter, we simply need to address that Black lives do in fact matter and their deaths, murders and killings should be addressed, their lives should be whole and they shouldn’t be forced to live in fear. This book isn’t a discussion on whether you should believe or even appreciate that When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele We live in a world where we need to tell people that Black Lives Matter. It’s not meant to say other lives don’t matter, we simply need to address that Black lives do in fact matter and their deaths, murders and killings should be addressed, their lives should be whole and they shouldn’t be forced to live in fear. This book isn’t a discussion on whether you should believe or even appreciate that stance. This book is about the life of the one of the women who started the Black Lives Matter movement. This book is split into two parts. The first reveals Patrisse’s upbringing in a poor neighborhood in Los Angeles. She describes how she witnessed her brothers being approached by the police for doing nothing more than playing outside. She details her experiences going to different schools outside of her community in affluent neighborhoods during both middle school and high school and the affect that had on her upbringing. Patrisse also talks about her parents: the mother who was ostracized from her parents and her religion for having sex and becoming pregnant outside of marriage and her father who struggled with addiction most of his adult life. Patrisse also talks about being Queer, coming out and the family’s struggle with her brother’s mental illness and stints in jail. The second part of the book brings with it many of the topics introduced in the first part but it delves deeper into the organizer that Patrisse has become. Her personal experiences dealing with law enforcement and the criminal justice system with her father and brother’s cases helped drive her to make a change. She works with different organizations working directly with youth, and eventually is called to even more action after the killing of Trayvon Martin and the decision made to let his killer go free. Patrisse, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi would eventually begin the Black Lives Matter movement, an organization that would eventually have over 40 chapters across the globe. I was automatically drawn to this book after reading the title. I was well aware of the Black Lives Matter movement after the marches in Ferguson after Michael Brown’s death, but I feel like there was a lot of confusion and no credit was given to the original founders Patrisse, Alicia and Opal. It wasn’t until recently that I learned their names and heard some of their actual story. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read a memoir written by one of the founders. It centers the narrative of someone who throughout her life has been part of a world that was actively working against her and the people she had in her life, because she was black and poor. Khan-Cullors has created with this memoir a passionate, well written, documentation of the abuses she has personally experience. It is heartbreaking and sobering and grounded in reality. Not everyone will share these same experiences with her but that does not take away how valid each of these experiences are and how they need to be addressed. This is such a relevant book in this political climate. This is a book that will make people stop and think before they try to center themselves and utter All Lives Matter. This is a book that will force people to rethink the way the criminal justice system in the U.S. really works. This is a book that will make you question how people are taught to police and carry out their duties. This is a book that will make you think about mental illnesses, how they are discussed and treated throughout the U.S. And it will make you think about the roles of women and what it means to be Queer or Trans in this continual fight for change. Necessary, well thought out, emotional and direct. This is a book I highly recommend.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Bea

    I liked it, but I wanted more. Just when I thought it was going to get really deep, I felt like the substance pulled back. The writing was pretty and poetic, and at times brought tears to my eyes, but also at certain points became choppy and repetitive. The memoir was organized in a haphazard way, jumping back and forth through time. That may not bother another reader. When I got to the end of the book, I wanted more detail about the Black Lives Matter movement. I was less interested in her love I liked it, but I wanted more. Just when I thought it was going to get really deep, I felt like the substance pulled back. The writing was pretty and poetic, and at times brought tears to my eyes, but also at certain points became choppy and repetitive. The memoir was organized in a haphazard way, jumping back and forth through time. That may not bother another reader. When I got to the end of the book, I wanted more detail about the Black Lives Matter movement. I was less interested in her love life, which did take up a chunk of the book. I think the most moving parts for me were the stories she told about other people in her life - for example her fathers, her brother, and victims like Trayvon Martin. All that said, I think this book should be required reading in schools.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A fast-moving and powerful look into the life of one the most prominent anti-racist activists working in America today. Khan-Cullors seamlessly embeds bits of social history and policy into her account of her life, which she’s always sure to frame as representative; the work’s ideal as an introduction into the fight for racial justice, though the writing feels rushed at times.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    "This is what that cop did to him. He shot bullets into the top of his head as he knelt on the ground with his hands up." In a perfect world, this book would not have been written. It would not have been written because it wouldn't have needed to be written. In a perfect world, there would be no Black Lives Matter movement. There would be no such movement because Black lives truly would matter. In a perfect world, there would be no inequality, injustice, hatred, or violence. There would be no "This is what that cop did to him. He shot bullets into the top of his head as he knelt on the ground with his hands up." In a perfect world, this book would not have been written. It would not have been written because it wouldn't have needed to be written. In a perfect world, there would be no Black Lives Matter movement. There would be no such movement because Black lives truly would matter. In a perfect world, there would be no inequality, injustice, hatred, or violence. There would be no need to stand up and demand equality and justice, to demand respect, dignity, and safety. People would not be denied these things merely because of the colour of their skin. But we do not live in a perfect world. When They Call You a Terrorist is a powerful memoir by co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Patrisse Khan-Cullors. It is a book I wish every person would read. Patrisse writes openly and movingly about her childhood, growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in LA where she was often hungry even though her mother worked 3 jobs. Where police patrolled their neighborhood, treating them all, even the little children, as though they were terrorists and thugs. Where she watched her mentally ill brother be taken by police, thrown into a prison where he was abused and tortured. Where young black men and boys were routinely rounded up and thrown into the vast prison-industry where human rights do not exist, especially not if you're Black or Brown. She chronicles the experiences, often traumatic, that led her to become an activist, that led her to create Black Lives Matter. She tells of the early days of the movement, and talks about many, many of the black lives that have been stolen, the women and men and children who were murdered because of the colour of their skin. She tells us why we need Black Lives Matter. I cried many times reading this book. Tears of compassion and tears of anger. We are in desperate need of change in this country. We cannot, we MUST NOT, allow the atrocities that take place daily all over this country, to continue to happen. White people cannot stand by any longer and let our sisters and brothers be murdered, merely because they have more melanin in their skin. We must become enraged and demand that change happens, but in order to do this we first need to educate ourselves about what exactly it is like to be a person of colour in America. This book focuses on many of the issues and injustices Michelle Alexander wrote about in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. This book is more personal, but equally important. If you don't understand the need for the Black Lives Matter movement, please, PLEASE!, read this book! I don't usually quote other books when writing a review of another, but the following lines from Leslé Honoré's brilliant Fist & Fire: Poems that Inspire Action and Ignite Passion kept coming to mind whilst reading this book: ""When you say to me all lives matter I simply ask will your son die with the world on his back mine will."

  17. 4 out of 5

    Malia

    I'd been wanting to read this for a while and my hold at the library for the audiobook finally came through, just at a time where the book seems particularly important. Then again, reading it and other books, listening to conversations that are going on about race and prejudice and privilege, I am realizing it, or rather it's message, has been important for hundreds of years. While this book was more memoir than I realized it would be, it was still interesting and highlighted aspects of the Blac I'd been wanting to read this for a while and my hold at the library for the audiobook finally came through, just at a time where the book seems particularly important. Then again, reading it and other books, listening to conversations that are going on about race and prejudice and privilege, I am realizing it, or rather it's message, has been important for hundreds of years. While this book was more memoir than I realized it would be, it was still interesting and highlighted aspects of the Black experience in America which I admit I did not truly grasp before. I think the author could have gone further in certain areas, but it's definitely pushed me to seek out more books to learn about race in America and to consider how I can contribute to positive change, which is so long overdue. Recommended! Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com

  18. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    I put this on my YA shelf because it reads like a young adult biography, despite the horror and violence. I'd definitely recommend this to high school and college readers. Khan-Cullors is not a strong writer and I am not familiar enough with asha bandele to tell how much she guided the author through this endeavor. As a memoir, it is an emotional read, it’s lyrical and almost whimsical in the dreamy way it flows. As an insight of the BLM movement's beginning, it falls short. It follows the author's I put this on my YA shelf because it reads like a young adult biography, despite the horror and violence. I'd definitely recommend this to high school and college readers. Khan-Cullors is not a strong writer and I am not familiar enough with asha bandele to tell how much she guided the author through this endeavor. As a memoir, it is an emotional read, it’s lyrical and almost whimsical in the dreamy way it flows. As an insight of the BLM movement's beginning, it falls short. It follows the author's personal journey to become an organizer that leads to the inception and promotion of Black Life Matters rather than an overview of the movement, itself. If you're looking for something similarly non-academic but more comprehensive, maybe start with They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement and go from there. There are technical difficulties, here, as well: verb tense changes throughout, the timeline is all over the place, conversations are hard to follow, people are introduced but there's no follow-up so it's not clear who these people are or why they're important. This is more like a casual conversation, which is fun if you know the person you're talking to, but confusing if you don't. It's a difficult read, both technically and emotionally, and, yet, I felt distant while reading. There are so many powerful moments throughout the book but I never felt compelled to stop and think and really feel what the author was saying and that's definitely not the point of this memoir. Then I got to the end. The last chapter had the most impact on me, personally - it was strong and front-n-center. It was angry. It was a call to arms. Everything that came before sounded quiet, timid, head down in comparison. The last chapter was a roar and it was powerful. The entire book was worth the read because of the end. This has been a middle-class cishet white woman review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Barbara (The Bibliophage)

    Originally published at TheBibliophage. When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors absolutely gutted me. I couldn’t breathe in so many parts of the book. I was holding my breath in sorrow, anger, outrage. With all this, you should know that I’m not a particularly emotional reader. I cry while reading maybe once a year. And this book was a punch in the gut and a wake up call. It did the opposite of making me cry—it made me angry. Patrisse Khan-Cullors tells her deeply personal story wi Originally published at TheBibliophage. When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors absolutely gutted me. I couldn’t breathe in so many parts of the book. I was holding my breath in sorrow, anger, outrage. With all this, you should know that I’m not a particularly emotional reader. I cry while reading maybe once a year. And this book was a punch in the gut and a wake up call. It did the opposite of making me cry—it made me angry. Patrisse Khan-Cullors tells her deeply personal story with such eloquence. Her writing is direct and forthright, as I imagine she must be. But in her straightforward way, the love she feels for her family, friends, community, and the world is utterly palpable. But this book, and this movement, isn’t about just love. It’s about the anguish of loss. In Patrisse’s experience, there is loss of beloveds to drugs, prison, mental illness, and death come too soon. In some cases she has lost the beloved person to all four things. Khan-Cullors tells about her family life, with two brothers, a sister, and a mother working two or three jobs. She talks about the men in her mother’s life, including her own father. And as she develops connection with her father and his family, she learns about a world outside her Los Angeles hometown. Our school experiences also forge our identity. Khan-Cullors begins the journey that brings her into adulthood in a truly unique high school. The students study history and culture as it applies to them—with emphasis on challenging classism, racism, sexism, and heteronormative thinking. They read authors like James Baldwin, Nelson Mandela, bell hooks, and Emma Goldman. It shapes Khan-Cullors and gives her the connections that begin her journey to Black Lives Matter. Throughout all that she’s learning, Patrisse still lives with suffocating emotional pain. At least, I think I would suffocate. But she does not, because ultimately this is the only world she knows. There have always been problems, often without solutions. Her gentle brother descends deeper into mental illness. The world around her becomes harder, with the advent of the prison industrial complex fed by racist policing policies. As Khan-Cullors shares her story, I imagine a young woman wise beyond her years. Not because she wanted to be, but because she had no choice. The world forced this on her. Racism and classism forced this on her. I mourn for her lost childhood. A review of this book wouldn’t be complete without some discussion of Khan-Cullors’ writing on sexuality. As a teen attending a school that encouraged students to challenge heteronormative thinking, she also had a cousin who was an out gay teen. She tells what it was like to find her sexual identity, while also managing all the crises in her life. She is raw and vulnerable about the relationships she’s had along the way, including her current one. This experience also shaped the principles of Black Lives Matter, because LGBTQIA+ people of color are often subjected to tremendous brutality. As I began this book, I thought I had a fair understanding of the underpinnings of the Black Lives Matter movement. In fact, this book taught me just how limited my knowledge really was. Khan-Cullors improved my understanding with stories, history, herstory, and activism. She and her fellow founders are women pushing for change, in whatever way they can. Black Lives Matter has thrived under their guidance and passionate leadership. They have grown to include chapters in the U.S. and other countries. The work they do is needed more than ever. Perhaps Black Lives Matter has thrived because the pain is still a daily reminder for each activist. Khan-Cullors makes it clear that no one in the movement is likely to be untouched by pain. I would encourage everyone to make the time for this book. Not only is it an important record of the fight for social justice, it’s an amazing AF memoir. Thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and especially Patrisse Khan-Cullors for opening her heart and soul to the world in this book. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review the digital advance copy. I also listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author, and would recommend it as well. As always, my opinions are my own.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jessaka

    What a Wonderful World I did not want to read a book like this; instead, while I wanted to read a book about the lives of blacks, I wanted one like “Mama Day” by Gloria Naylor, a fun read, a good life. I loved her book, but most of all, I wanted to believe that her book was mostly true, that their lives were better, were normal. I wanted the Jim Crow Laws behind us, the slavery, and all the cruelty. But I knew that the Jim Crow laws were still here, just that I did not know the complete extent of What a Wonderful World I did not want to read a book like this; instead, while I wanted to read a book about the lives of blacks, I wanted one like “Mama Day” by Gloria Naylor, a fun read, a good life. I loved her book, but most of all, I wanted to believe that her book was mostly true, that their lives were better, were normal. I wanted the Jim Crow Laws behind us, the slavery, and all the cruelty. But I knew that the Jim Crow laws were still here, just that I did not know the complete extent of them, the cruelty of the police, the prison guards. I wanted to believe that it was only a few bad cops that killed the blacks, that harmed them in any way. It was seven or so years ago when I first got my bubble popped. I was listening to the news, and Trayvon Marten had been killed, but that was only the beginning. I sat in front of our TV month after month, watching the videos that people had produced of the cop killings, my stomach tied in knots. One of my friends said that they were fake videos. I knew better. Now she says that they are true, but that it is only a few bad cops committing these crimes. I wish to believe her, but I do not know if I can. After reading this book, I thought of my own childhood, how I used to roam the streets of my town, going into stores, never being harassed. And this same friend that I mentioned, Mary, went with me into the Mercantile one day, and we were trying on men’s hats. A male clerk came over and asked us if he could help. I said, “No, we are just trying on hats because I want to buy one for my dad.” He knew better, but he left us alone. I think now, what if we had been black? It was the 50s, small town America. Did the blacks in our town feel safe? I like to think so. I know that I did. I did not worry about the police; they were our “friends.” I knew Black history; I had taken a class in college. I knew of the Civil Rights Movement. I knew a lot, I thought. I had read a few books on racism, but I wanted to believe that racism was in words only, that blacks were better off now. Then when the killing began, I felt that we needed another Martin Luther King, Jr., even a Malcolm X, but I knew if one arose, he or she might be killed, eventually. Then Black Lives Matter came on the scene, but they seemed to have no leader, and what is a group without a leader? I expected them to go away in a short period of time, but then in the last few months, they were in the headlines where they needed to be, but they were now called “terrorists.”. Then I found this book, and I devoured it. A woman had founded the group, Patrice, its author. It is her life story, not much of a Gloria Naylor book, not even a story like my own life, but a story that I did not wish to know. I learned that It is not just a few bad cops. It is so much more than that. Her neighborhood was not my own; it was terrifying, and the blacks are deprived of so much. Their grocery store was a 7-11, their playgrounds were the streets and the alleys. The kids hung out there, and the police would come to look for them, not to look for crimes being committed, but to look to start trouble, to beat them up, to torture them. Is it any wonder that a black man stole a cop’s taser gun and ran with it, knowing what a cop might do to him if he hadn’t? It may have been the only chance that he had to save his own life. He lost it anyway.Then there are the jails and the prisons, not just a place to lock a black person up, but a place where the guards torture them, even hang them. Do any blacks feel safe in America? No, not really. Are there any good cops? I do not know anymore. Who are the real terrorists? That I do know. How will this all end? I think I know. A few statues will come down, the confederate flag will end up on the lawns of the racists and in their pickup trucks, some names on buildings will be changed from racist ones to more acceptable ones, and the police will be nicer to the blacks on the streets, putting them in their patrol cars and taking them somewhere where they can do their dirty work in secret, and then the politicians will say, “We gave you what you wanted, so why are you still complaining?” And Black Lives Matter will be lucky if they are not all killed.

  21. 5 out of 5

    J Beckett

    When They Call you a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir isn't like most memoirs. The emphasis, despite the title, is not solely on the BLM movement, instead, it builds the reason for creation and existence BLM through the life experiences of the co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors. As it is not my practice, commonly, to give a synopsis of the book or provide spoilers that may deter interested readers, I will keep it simple and to the point. Khan-Cullors approach to the creation of this highly r When They Call you a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir isn't like most memoirs. The emphasis, despite the title, is not solely on the BLM movement, instead, it builds the reason for creation and existence BLM through the life experiences of the co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors. As it is not my practice, commonly, to give a synopsis of the book or provide spoilers that may deter interested readers, I will keep it simple and to the point. Khan-Cullors approach to the creation of this highly respected and equally controversial movement (funny how hue-man movements for the amelioration of a people is tainted with adjectives of anxiety) is in direct response to injustices that span beyond the color spectrum. When They Call You a Terrorist is larger than a title, it touches, without apology or stammer, the core of discrimination, both riotous and subdued, that affects the lives of nearly every life, deemed different, on the tree of humanity. It is said that we fear what we don't understand. Since the 1865 emancipation of enslaved Africans and people of African descent, there has been a consistent effort to eliminate the race or traces of them, by way of intimidation, deception, denigration, incarceration, and murder. For decades, even to this day, a sector of society is directly ostracized and openly isolated by some of the most abusive practices imaginable. Only the color of skin, their choice of who to love, and the God they understood was enough to make them the dregs of "proper Christian" society, by those who worshipped flags and burned crosses. Through the years, and one century later, the rights of people of African descent (and other who felt or were disenfranchised) came to a head and erupted for the world to see. Still, decades later, the rights of people considered different, remained in the forefront of the American psyche and the hue-man efforts branched off in directions the ruling parties were not prepared to deal with. This is what gave birth to Patrisse Khan-Cullors, whose memoir is revealing, exciting and sometimes confusing (in a nature versus nurture sort of way). And they called them terrorists. Khan-Cullors, who is a very talented writer, was able to seamlessly blend the complexities of being an emotional automaton and a formidable force. The killings of innocent people by police, the discrimination against the LBGTQ community, and the "turn the other cheek" decisions of elected officials started the clearly missioned but intentionally misrepresented (by those who wanted to besmirch the cause) organization/ movement, BLM. The book is magic even if its heavy biographical content dominates. It is a history lesson that may never appear in a textbook or on an SAT exam, but can never be hidden or destroyed. It is the single most recognized movement in current history and the reason that so many others, who remained silent for ions, are now raising their voices and donning warrior gear. Read When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, not for those things that are easily seen, but for the content that encourages you to think. Take from it more than Patrisse intended. Like Black Lives Matter, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, is the blueprint of what's to come.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kend

    I received an ARC of this book yesterday morning in the mail, thinking that I would just take a peek inside before finishing my homework last night. Well, I didn't finish my homework. But I did finish this book, and while I'm not in any position to comment with authority on the Black Lives Matter movement (I'm blindingly white), I needed this book. After all, there are loads of misconceptions about what it means to grow up black—and female, and queer—in America, and no matter how far I've come I I received an ARC of this book yesterday morning in the mail, thinking that I would just take a peek inside before finishing my homework last night. Well, I didn't finish my homework. But I did finish this book, and while I'm not in any position to comment with authority on the Black Lives Matter movement (I'm blindingly white), I needed this book. After all, there are loads of misconceptions about what it means to grow up black—and female, and queer—in America, and no matter how far I've come I still feel as though I have a long way to go. Yes, I'm female and queer, but I am also a child of privilege. And Patrisse Khan-Cullors does a fantastic job helping her readers recognize such things. There's a time and a place to weaponize the language of resistance, and while that's not Khan-Cullors' central goal in this book, she does a fantastic job of elevating a whole chorus of voices—of both those who protest peacefully and those who are driven by circumstance to more aggressive attempts at reform—by naming them, recognizing their contributions, and welcoming them into her own narrative of self-evolution. This is a work of contextualization—Khan-Cullors' own contextualization within a world most of us can barely begin to imagine, a family shaped by systemic abuses of power, and a literature of protest—and the contextualization of the Black Lives Matter movement within an America which has seen a whole litany of civil rights protested, achieved, and often undone. Patrisse Khan-Cullors is strikingly, profoundly, even unmeritedly gracious. She calls out wrongdoing when she sees it, yes, but her righteous anger is tempered by an enormous capacity for empathy. This book, like much of her life's work as a community organizer, is a kindness in and of itself. We—whether the Republicans voters who elected a man who singles out black activists as "sons of bitches," the Democrats who failed to represent and advocate for our black, queer, and female fellow citizens, or those who recused themselves from the polling booth altogether—do not deserve forgiveness for upholding a broken system. But Khan-Cullors offers us a way forward anyway. To combat police violence and the unmerited (not to mention disproportional) search, seizure, and surveillance of black communities. To combat violence against queer (especially Trans) people of color. To combat our own worst selves, which have allowed this to become the norm. Khan-Cullors' memoirs may not be perfect, but they are necessary. And good. Damn good. The kind which embrace a good and actionable empathy we need in 2017.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Serena

    This memoir is so raw and personal. I had to keep reminding myself that this isn’t fiction, this is real, this happened — is happening to so many innocent Black lives. How can someone striving for equality and freedom be labelled a terrorist? With no violence, no threatening behaviour and no harm towards another human being at all? “They rewrote the laws, but they didn’t rewrite white supremacy." Patrisse Khan-Cullors highlights her fears and what growing up in a community where police patrol yo This memoir is so raw and personal. I had to keep reminding myself that this isn’t fiction, this is real, this happened — is happening to so many innocent Black lives. How can someone striving for equality and freedom be labelled a terrorist? With no violence, no threatening behaviour and no harm towards another human being at all? “They rewrote the laws, but they didn’t rewrite white supremacy." Patrisse Khan-Cullors highlights her fears and what growing up in a community where police patrol your every move does to a person’s mental health. They aren’t given help or support; they are labelled guilty when innocent. It is unjust, unfair and disgusting. This is a book for everyone. Everyone should read this. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to educate themselves more on the Black Lives Matter movement. It is so important. I understand that I will never understand. However, I stand with you. #BlackLivesMatter.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chanda Prescod-weinstein

    I think this book is critically important, and I especially want every white person to read it. But my feelings about it were also complicated. Message: 5 stars History: 3-4 stars Writing style (this is really not terribly important at the end of the day for a book with this kind of content): 4 stars The message is incredibly important: the #BlackLivesMatter movement came into existence because American white supremacy is effectively a Black Lives Don't Matter movement. I think Patrisse and asha do I think this book is critically important, and I especially want every white person to read it. But my feelings about it were also complicated. Message: 5 stars History: 3-4 stars Writing style (this is really not terribly important at the end of the day for a book with this kind of content): 4 stars The message is incredibly important: the #BlackLivesMatter movement came into existence because American white supremacy is effectively a Black Lives Don't Matter movement. I think Patrisse and asha do a really good job of using Patrisse's own story to highlight the brutality of the American establishment. But I worry a little that people will take the history of movement making as it is told here as gospel. I don't think they are at all fair to the Black women-led organizing during the 80s and 90s that set the stage for the Black Lives Matter organization to come together. Maxine Waters is mentioned as maybe the only leader who cared about Black communities during that era. From this text, you'd think there was an organizing vacuum between the end of the Black Panthers and the movements that rose up after Trayvon was murdered. I disagree, pretty fundamentally, with this movement history. And I think that the writing style that they chose -- first person present tense randomly mixed with first person past tense -- lends itself to not really doing justice to the history of the movements that fed into creating the conditions in which Patrisse began organizing. I found the mixing of present and past tense confusing, couldn't find a pattern to it. While I hope people won't take the text as accurately portraying broader movement history, I do believe this is a really important contribution to ongoing discussions about where we go from here.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Megan Rogers

    when they call you a terrorist is a recounting of the life of one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, and many of the experiences that led up to BLM and subsequent actions that the movement has participated in and led thus far. I consider myself to be fairly aware of BLM, and black history but I have learned so much from this memoir. I have realized even more of my privilege as a white woman in the US. Even in my times of poverty, I've never been as impoverished as these brave men and women. when they call you a terrorist is a recounting of the life of one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, and many of the experiences that led up to BLM and subsequent actions that the movement has participated in and led thus far. I consider myself to be fairly aware of BLM, and black history but I have learned so much from this memoir. I have realized even more of my privilege as a white woman in the US. Even in my times of poverty, I've never been as impoverished as these brave men and women. I've never cowered in my home in fear of the police. I've never had to worry about getting my mentally ill family members to the hospital myself because they had previously been tortured (literally) in a prison. This book is not to be taken lightly. This is not just a list of facts to fill in the gaps of your knowledge. Patrisse Khan-Cullors shares the joy and the pain that she has experienced, but there is more pain than most of us (white people) have ever known. Yet in the midst of this pain is such love and bravery and truth. The intentional family and community is beautiful, and I almost wish that I could know that for myself, but I dont know that I'm strong enough to endure what this community has endured. Every single white person needs to pre-order (or request from the library) this book. I don't care how much you think you know, or how much you deny the necessity of the black lives matter movement, I beg you to give this book a chance. I dare you to read it. I guarantee that it will make you uncomfortable. Sit in that discomfort and imagine it was you, your children, loved ones and community. What would you do? What would you want others to do?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Kentgen

    I could not recommend this book more highly. Because it was evocative on so many levels, it is difficult to review. Maybe the best way is to acknowledge that I read it with trepidation because, while I felt like it was important to read, I have felt overwhelmed with how broken and wounded our country is in general. Yet from the first few pages of the introduction I knew how important this book is to read. I thought I was pretty aware of the impact of anti-black racism but this book woke me. Readi I could not recommend this book more highly. Because it was evocative on so many levels, it is difficult to review. Maybe the best way is to acknowledge that I read it with trepidation because, while I felt like it was important to read, I have felt overwhelmed with how broken and wounded our country is in general. Yet from the first few pages of the introduction I knew how important this book is to read. I thought I was pretty aware of the impact of anti-black racism but this book woke me. Reading about the treatment of her mentally ill brother was agonizing. As a psychologist I'm struggling with the inability of my profession to have a collective voice against the warehousing and abuse of the mentally ill and vulnerable. That Patrisse could hold those feelings around what she witnessed with her brother, and write about it, is remarkable. The author is an amazing human being. The book is beautifully written. Of course it is memoir but it is also a collective memoir. We can't heal as a country until we come to terms with the cancer of systemic racism and its impact. Again, it needs to be read. I saw a review by Kirkus which said something about how the narrative could drag on and might be for a select audience - and I thought that the reviewer could not have read the same book that I just finished.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    This is a really important book, but by the end I had to force myself to finish it because the writing style drove me up the damn wall. It's overly fancy - everything is mystical and beautiful and that gets really boring - and yet also written in choppy sentences that make it hard to follow. And I got really tired of the stories of her love life; I appreciated much more the beginning of the book, detailing the life and effects of growing up poor and black in America; the magical connections she This is a really important book, but by the end I had to force myself to finish it because the writing style drove me up the damn wall. It's overly fancy - everything is mystical and beautiful and that gets really boring - and yet also written in choppy sentences that make it hard to follow. And I got really tired of the stories of her love life; I appreciated much more the beginning of the book, detailing the life and effects of growing up poor and black in America; the magical connections she made with various partners didn't advance the narrative. I know it's a memoir but... There was no focus. Things repeated, were out of order, and ugh, it was just really disappointing how such a good and important work was so frustrating to read. I love what Patrisse has done and respect the hell out of her, but I hope other voices get amplified as well because I want to read something a little better. I hate leaving this review, especially as a white, cis, hetero woman but I want to be clear that I respect the work and the message.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mariah Roze

    I read this Goodreads' book club for the Diversity in All Froms! If you would like to participate in the discussion here is the link: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/... "A poetic and powerful memoir about what it means to be a Black woman in America—and the co-founding of a movement that demands justice for all in the land of the free. Raised by a single mother in an impoverished neighborhood in Los Angeles, Patrisse Khan-Cullors experienced firsthand the prejudice and persecution Black Amer I read this Goodreads' book club for the Diversity in All Froms! If you would like to participate in the discussion here is the link: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/... "A poetic and powerful memoir about what it means to be a Black woman in America—and the co-founding of a movement that demands justice for all in the land of the free. Raised by a single mother in an impoverished neighborhood in Los Angeles, Patrisse Khan-Cullors experienced firsthand the prejudice and persecution Black Americans endure at the hands of law enforcement. For Patrisse, the most vulnerable people in the country are Black people. Deliberately and ruthlessly targeted by a criminal justice system serving a white privilege agenda, Black people are subjected to unjustifiable racial profiling and police brutality. In 2013, when Trayvon Martin’s killer went free, Patrisse’s outrage led her to co-found Black Lives Matter with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. Condemned as terrorists and as a threat to America, these loving women founded a hashtag that birthed the movement to demand accountability from the authorities who continually turn a blind eye to the injustices inflicted upon people of Black and Brown skin. Championing human rights in the face of violent racism, Patrisse is a survivor. She transformed her personal pain into political power, giving voice to a people suffering in equality and a movement fueled by her strength and love to tell the country—and the world—that Black Lives Matter."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Never Without a Book

    Patrisse Khan-Cullors gives you the horrifying truth and heartbreaking reality of how we people of color are treated in America in her memoir When they call you a terrorist. Split into two parts we start off with Patrisse's childhood in Los Angeles. She provides a view of what it was like to grow up impoverished , black, consistently bullied by law enforcement, and being a latchkey kid. With a mother working multiple jobs just to get by and a father who became unreliable when he lost his job, P Patrisse Khan-Cullors gives you the horrifying truth and heartbreaking reality of how we people of color are treated in America in her memoir When they call you a terrorist. Split into two parts we start off with Patrisse's childhood in Los Angeles. She provides a view of what it was like to grow up impoverished , black, consistently bullied by law enforcement, and being a latchkey kid. With a mother working multiple jobs just to get by and a father who became unreliable when he lost his job, Patrisse looked up to her older brothers for guidance. At an early age, Patrisse became aware of how black people were targeted by police, treated differently in court, and how even the school system treated black children like potential criminals. Though she tackles different topics, everything in her background leads into how she became an activist at a young age and how she and two other women founded the Black Lives Matter movement. The second part of the book dives deep into how and why Patrisse Khan-Cullors , Alicia Garza and Opal Tomet started the Black Lives Matter movement which was a women's movement founded by women, led by women, with male participants and over 40 chapters across the globe. I highly recommend this book!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sylwia (Wish Fulfillment)

    Why I Recommend Bumping This UP On Your TBR: The author is a black queer woman whose father was diagnosed with Substance Use Disorder and whose brother was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder. I thought that the author handled the topics of race, queerness, SUD, and mental health perfectly. I especially enjoyed how she wrote about what it was like before she had knowledge and insight, and immediately compared it to what she knows now, never leaving the reader with any harmful messages. I appr Why I Recommend Bumping This UP On Your TBR: The author is a black queer woman whose father was diagnosed with Substance Use Disorder and whose brother was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder. I thought that the author handled the topics of race, queerness, SUD, and mental health perfectly. I especially enjoyed how she wrote about what it was like before she had knowledge and insight, and immediately compared it to what she knows now, never leaving the reader with any harmful messages. I appreciated how frequently she included information and guided the reader toward corrective actions. I learned a lot and I was validated frequently. Her passion for these subjects, as well as her love for people was clear. On the more technical levels, this was a thrilling memoir. It was well-paced and well-organized. Every aspect of her life that she choose to share with us made sense within the context of the chapters and the goals of the novel as a whole. If she were a fictional character, I would say that I love her, because getting to know her in this memoir inspired a lot of love. I enjoyed every moment of this book and I strongly recommend it!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.