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

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

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...

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Title:When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir
Author:Patrisse Khan-Cullors
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When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir Reviews

  • 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

    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

    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

    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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • Barbara

    Khan-Cullors is a co-founder with Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza of the Black Lives Matter movement. She was already deeply involved in community movements fighting oppression including police violence. I finished this book 6 days after it was released. It was compelling and exceptional. It is so fitting that the story of Black Lives Matter be told through the life of Patrisse Khan-Cullors. It carries a force that can only be conveyed through a first person account. The story of Khan-Cullors belov

    Khan-Cullors is a co-founder with Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza of the Black Lives Matter movement. She was already deeply involved in community movements fighting oppression including police violence. I finished this book 6 days after it was released. It was compelling and exceptional. It is so fitting that the story of Black Lives Matter be told through the life of Patrisse Khan-Cullors. It carries a force that can only be conveyed through a first person account. The story of Khan-Cullors beloved brother whose mental illness put him into the path of police again and again, in jail and prison. There were so many times reading her accounts that I found myself reacting strongly, as unbelievable event piled on top of unbelievable event. You will learn that the title "When They Call You a Terrorist" refers to an incident between her brother and the police.

    The author never hits readers over the head with statistics or horror stories. While there are a number of stories, each one intensifies understanding of what Black Lives Matter means and why it continues. Statistics are provided that provide a context for the actions of BLM activists. Details of the protests in Ferguson were new to me, and this community, more than any other example, depict the militarization of American police forces that has escalated in recent years.

    Black Lives Matter was founded by women. Khan-Cullors identifies as Queer and her story as a Queer woman was very revealing to me. She describes also that the movement also did not initially recognize the tremendous work and involvement of African American Trans women. This community is one of the most targeted for extreme violence, particularly murder. Khan-Cullors' story is one of the strength of women, particularly her own mother. It is infused with love for her community. It is a book to be read by those who want to understand Black America, and everyone interested into insights into resistance movements.

  • MissFabularian

    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

    .

  • Kate Olson

    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. **

  • 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 in 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

  • Lena Irish

    I got so much life from reading this book! It reads as a memoir but also very informative account of how Black Lives Matter got started as a result of how the author's brother with special needs was treated by the prison system in L.A. County. That was the catalyst to her being made aware of all the injustice that is felt in the black community by some members of law enforcement and the judicial system. I was made more aware of how corporate America benefits from the prison system and why it's o

    I got so much life from reading this book! It reads as a memoir but also very informative account of how Black Lives Matter got started as a result of how the author's brother with special needs was treated by the prison system in L.A. County. That was the catalyst to her being made aware of all the injustice that is felt in the black community by some members of law enforcement and the judicial system. I was made more aware of how corporate America benefits from the prison system and why it's only getting worse because of the billions of dollars that are funneled into by those that benefit. Wow. Just wow. My mind is racing.

  • Lynecia

    WOW.

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