When They Call You a Terrorist
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.

When They Call You a Terrorist Details

TitleWhen They Call You a Terrorist
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 16th, 2018
PublisherSt. Martin's Press
ISBN-139781250171085
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Race, Social Movements, Social Justice, Politics

When They Call You a Terrorist Review

  • Dawn Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    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
    more
  • Victoria Schwab
    January 1, 1970
    Oh man, a difficult, but powerful book.
  • Kate Olson
    January 1, 1970
    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. **
    more
  • MissFabularian
    January 1, 1970
    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.
    more
  • Raymond
    January 1, 1970
    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.
    more
  • Stacie C
    January 1, 1970
    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.
    more
  • Barbara (The Bibliophage)
    January 1, 1970
    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.
    more
  • Kend
    January 1, 1970
    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.
    more
  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    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.
    more
  • J Beckett
    January 1, 1970
    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.
    more
  • Erica
    January 1, 1970
    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’s the author's perso 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’s 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, the introduction of new characters late in the game and not revisiting old characters introduced earlier, the use of overwhelm as a feeling or a noun but not a verb or adverb.It's a difficult read, both technically and emotionally, and, yet, I felt distant and impassionate while reading; I mean, 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 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 had sounded so quiet, timid, head down. The last chapter was a roar.The entire book was worth the read because of the end.
    more
  • Chanda Prescod-weinstein
    January 1, 1970
    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 starsHistory: 3-4 starsWriting style (this is really not terribly important at the end of the day for a book with this kind of content): 4 starsThe 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 starsHistory: 3-4 starsWriting style (this is really not terribly important at the end of the day for a book with this kind of content): 4 starsThe 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.
    more
  • Lisa Kentgen
    January 1, 1970
    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.
    more
  • Gabriella
    January 1, 1970
    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.
    more
  • Megan Rogers
    January 1, 1970
    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?
    more
  • Alison Hardtmann
    January 1, 1970
    There's a lot of misinformation floating around about the Black Lives Matter movement, some of it clearly intended to discredit their push to hold law enforcement accountable and to draw attention to serious issues, but also some based on inadequate reporting and system bias. When They Call You a Terrorist is a memoir by one of the three women who founded Black Lives Matters and her account of her own life, as well as of the beginning months of Black Lives Matter is a good start to learning abou There's a lot of misinformation floating around about the Black Lives Matter movement, some of it clearly intended to discredit their push to hold law enforcement accountable and to draw attention to serious issues, but also some based on inadequate reporting and system bias. When They Call You a Terrorist is a memoir by one of the three women who founded Black Lives Matters and her account of her own life, as well as of the beginning months of Black Lives Matter is a good start to learning about what is really happening.Patrisse Khan-Cullors grew up in Van Nuys, California, a part of greater Los Angeles inhabited by low income and middle class Hispanic and black people. The father who was around during her childhood had had a good job at an auto manufacturing plant, a job which gave him both a solid paycheck and a sense of pride. When the plant closed, the only work he could find was intermittent and badly paid, which put strain on his family and he eventually left. When They Call You a Terrorist is both starkly honest and clear in depicting how policies and events had direct impact on her family -- here showing how changes in manufacturing hurt not just white people, but also other members of the working class. Throughout the book, Khan-Cullors shows through incidents that shaped her own life, how mental illness is treated when the person suffering is a young black man of limited means, how the policing of young black boys is harmful, how housing policy hurts families, how hard it is to navigate life as both a black woman and as a queer woman and how a person raised in this environment can nonetheless rise into becoming a community activist and how important that role is.I learned quite a bit from this book, but I also enjoyed reading about Khan-Cullors herself and how her life shaped who she is today.
    more
  • Lynecia
    January 1, 1970
    WOW.
  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    This is an excellent audiobook and a must-read for any feminist and activist out there. At times the writing gets a tiny bit repetitive -- probably only noticeable BECAUSE I was listening to it (Patrisse talks multiple times about being surprised to fall in love with a cishet man) but nothing that takes away from how Black Lives Matter arose to the movement it is today. A lot to think about here, too, in terms of the prison industrial complex and the US police state.
    more
  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    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.
    more
  • Lena Irish
    January 1, 1970
    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.
    more
  • Beverly
    January 1, 1970
    thoughts coming shortly
  • N.
    January 1, 1970
    Memoirs can be painful to read, light-hearted, or a blend. When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors is of the "rip your heart out and stomp on it" variety because, oh my gosh, what this book says about how we treat people in America is absolutely horrifying and heartbreaking. Beginning with her childhood in the Los Angeles area, the author describes what it was like to grow up impoverished, hungry, black, constantly dogged by law enforcement, and without much parental guidance. Wi Memoirs can be painful to read, light-hearted, or a blend. When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors is of the "rip your heart out and stomp on it" variety because, oh my gosh, what this book says about how we treat people in America is absolutely horrifying and heartbreaking. Beginning with her childhood in the Los Angeles area, the author describes what it was like to grow up impoverished, hungry, black, constantly dogged by law enforcement, and without much parental guidance. With a mother who worked 2 or 3 jobs constantly just to get by and a father who became unreliable when he lost his job and was unable to find comparable-paying work, Patrisse Kahn-Cullors looked up to her big brothers. At an early age, the author 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 (something I was well aware of in my children's schools, where a poster listing crimes and their likely punishments hangs on the office walls of middle and high schools -- I tried unsuccessfully to get them removed). The author is bisexual (her preferred description is "Queer"), her eldest brother has a severe mental illness that took years to treat, and the entire family has been impacted by the targeting of blacks that began during the "War on Drugs," so she's got a lot of different topics to tackle, but everything in her background leads into how she became an activist at a young age and the various movements that she participated in before she and two other women founded the Black Lives Matter movement. What an eye-opening read. I had no idea the Black Lives Matter movement was a women's movement -- founded by women, led by women, with male participants but no real male leadership. The author expressed her frustration that the press has overlooked the fact that BLM is a women's movement and I found myself nodding. I would never have realized it, if not for this book. In addition to the attempt to bring awareness to the fact that black people are treated differently by our justice system, the author talked about other efforts -- some of which were experiencing some measurable success before the recent election of our 45th president -- such as the attempt to minimize the building of prisons and funnel the building funds into programs that positively impact impoverished communities and demilitarize police forces. I found her brother's challenge with severe mental illness particularly interesting because his experience illuminates a subject that's not talked about enough: the fact that police officers are either not trained to discern the difference between mental illness and deliberate violence or too focused on racial profiling, both of which lead to the imprisonment and/or deaths of many young men who are mentally ill (often due to trauma related to their poverty, being targeted by police, having parents who are imprisoned, etc.). From the author's experience, the mentally ill are not even treated once they're imprisoned. It took quite a few terrifying years of dealing with her brother's mental illness on their own and two imprisonments before the family finally had an official diagnosis, and even then it has been a constant challenge to find the right medical treatment and keep him on his medication. That alone would be enough to traumatize an entire family, much less all the other challenges they face.I spent a good portion of my reading time with tears in my eyes. Much of the work of the community activists Khan-Cullors leads has been undone in a matter of months, and this is acknowledged in the final chapter of the book. One can only hope that this memoir will help open a few more eyes to the fierce inequalities faced by black American citizens in America, every day.
    more
  • Anna
    January 1, 1970
    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!
    more
  • Alison
    January 1, 1970
    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.
    more
  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)
    January 1, 1970
    The title of this book is a bit misleading- it isn’t really about the BLM movement so much as it is about her motivations in starting it. This is a memoir detailing her family’s struggles with the legal system and the police in particular. Some of it is heartbreaking, but it helps you get a better sense of what the movement is fighting for. A lot of her personal background with respect to her family relationships and her partners is also included.
    more
  • Morgan Gayle
    January 1, 1970
    Audiobook listen
  • Betty
    January 1, 1970
    When I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. Like so many others, I have often watched the news in horror when yet another African-American man or woman (or worse, a child) has been killed without provocation, when they were doing nothing wrong. It was horrible enough when the killer was just a regular citizen, but the horror I felt increased ten-fold when their deaths came at the hands of police officers—someone who is meant to serve and protect all of us, regardless of race. (I guess When I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. Like so many others, I have often watched the news in horror when yet another African-American man or woman (or worse, a child) has been killed without provocation, when they were doing nothing wrong. It was horrible enough when the killer was just a regular citizen, but the horror I felt increased ten-fold when their deaths came at the hands of police officers—someone who is meant to serve and protect all of us, regardless of race. (I guess I'm a bit naive, because I always expect justice to be served, punishment meted out for the guilty party—and I'm stunned when it doesn't happen.)I remember suddenly hearing "Black Lives Matter" being talked about on the news, seeing the hashtag on social media, and—almost as quickly—seeing negative opinions about it on Facebook. I wanted to know what Black Lives Matter was about, and—rather than take some random naysayer's opinion as fact—I looked it up. Their mission statement begins:The Black Lives Matter Global Network is a chapter-based, member-led organization whose mission is to build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.The entirety of the mission statement can be read on the Black Lives Matter website.I won't pretend to have a deep understanding of what African-American's daily lives are like when it comes to racism and all that it encompasses. I don't, and as a white woman, I can't—but I am aware of it. And while I will never understand how people can feel that way about someone of a different race, I do want to understand how it impacts the lives of the people targeted by that hatred. I want to understand the anger, the fear, that they feel as a result of being treated in unacceptable—and often terrible—ways.When They Call You a Terrorist is more than just the story of how Black Lives Matter began. It tells the story of Patrisse Khan-Cullors, sharing significant events that happened throughout her childhood—either to herself or a loved one—that shaped her into the community organizer and social activist she would become. There are many things she shares about her life, but one part that left me feeling especially heartbroken and outraged was reading about how her mentally ill brother, Monte, was abused while in jail. I won't go into the details in this review, but suffice to say it's something I doubt I'll ever be able to forget.As I always do when reading a book for review, I wondered what words I would use to describe the book. All the way through, I kept coming back to three words:Raw.Emotional.Powerful.You can't help but feel the undercurrents of anger and pain as you read this book. There are many passages where I had to take a moment, stop reading, and reflect on what I'd just read. I wanted to deeply consider the the events that were described. How might I have felt, if the police came to my door—without a warrant, without a reason—and made me stand in my yard, with multiple guns pointed at me and my loved ones, while they spent three or four hours searching my house? Afraid to so much as gesture with my hand as I spoke, for fear they might shoot me? How might I feel, if that happened to me, with a child present who was treated with the same cold disregard as I?I would feel terrorized. I would feel that they didn't think my life mattered.The rallying cry of "Black Lives Matter" will not go down in history as words spoken by terrorists, but rather words spoken by a people who have been made to feel that their lives don't matter at all—who had the courage to do something about it.The year has barely begun, but I have a feeling When They Call You a Terrorist will be one of the most important books published in 2018.If you read only one nonfiction book this year, I urge you to read this book, particularly if you don't understand what the Black Lives Matter movement is all about. It will open your eyes to a lot of things that—like me—you probably didn't know about.I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of St. Martin's Press.
    more
  • Nadine
    January 1, 1970
    This memoir is infuriating, emotional, and thought provoking because Khan-Cullors is unapologetic in her writing of events that have happened to herself and those around her. When They Call You a Terrorist is a stark look at what it looks like to grow up in a society that sees your skin colour first and implements every trick in the book to disenfranchise you and everyone who looks like you.I went into this memoir thinking it would be a detailed account of the creation of the Black Lives Matter This memoir is infuriating, emotional, and thought provoking because Khan-Cullors is unapologetic in her writing of events that have happened to herself and those around her. When They Call You a Terrorist is a stark look at what it looks like to grow up in a society that sees your skin colour first and implements every trick in the book to disenfranchise you and everyone who looks like you.I went into this memoir thinking it would be a detailed account of the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement and the work they’ve accomplished thus far. Though, When They Call You a Terrorist does touch upon the genesis and work, this memoir focuses heavily on Khan-Cullors’ life. The reader is privy to intimate knowledge of her upbringing, familial relationships, romantic relationships, and sexual identity and how all of her experiences converged to create the passionate and intelligent person she is today.I like to think of myself as someone who isn’t ignorant to the injustices and institutional racism that black and brown folks are subjected to everyday. However, every time I read a book similar in topic I’m flabbergasted and infuriated at the horrible experiences these people are forced to endure.When They Call You a Terrorist highlights all of this and more as Khan-Cullors walks you through a very real and very alive culture that thrives on disenfranchising whole segments of people because it’s based on the notion that people are not all created equal.
    more
  • Rebecca McPhedran
    January 1, 1970
    An amazing reflection of the state of our union. Told with poetry and heart. This is Patrisse Khan-Cullors monitor, and her call to action. This is her love story to absent fathers, absent brothers, who from their youth are punished and sent through the criminal justice system because of the color of their skin. This is her love story to hardworking mothers, who are seen as disposable, work three jobs, and are unable to provide for their children. This is her call to arms. To hold the criminal j An amazing reflection of the state of our union. Told with poetry and heart. This is Patrisse Khan-Cullors monitor, and her call to action. This is her love story to absent fathers, absent brothers, who from their youth are punished and sent through the criminal justice system because of the color of their skin. This is her love story to hardworking mothers, who are seen as disposable, work three jobs, and are unable to provide for their children. This is her call to arms. To hold the criminal justice system accountable for the tragedies that take place within their walls. This is the call to action to hold the police officers who kill unarmed black men on the street, because they “fit the description” of an unknown subject. So honest, humbling and sad. She speaks about the dog whistle politics, the pervasive and yet unspoken racism and classism that is all throughout our country. A must read. You owe it to yourself to read this. Check out my initial thoughts on this book on my blog! https://bexsbookshelf.wordpress.com/
    more
  • Ariel ✨
    January 1, 1970
    I read this in one day. Patrisse Khan-Cullors does an excellent job of honoring the people in her life who impacted her and made a movement like the one she helped create possible.I expected to learn a lot when I picked up this book, and I did. I didn't know people who lived in Section 8 housing weren't allowed to live with individuals with felony convictions even of those individuals were family members who were unable to care for themselves , which would make it hard for the author's mother t I read this in one day. Patrisse Khan-Cullors does an excellent job of honoring the people in her life who impacted her and made a movement like the one she helped create possible.I expected to learn a lot when I picked up this book, and I did. I didn't know people who lived in Section 8 housing weren't allowed to live with individuals with felony convictions even of those individuals were family members who were unable to care for themselves , which would make it hard for the author's mother to care for her brother with mental illness. I studied the impact of the drug war in my graduate classes, but there were things about its history and spread I still didn't know.Khan-Cullors has a gift for recounting events in a way that are vibrant and gripping. Her life and political awakenings made for a very compelling read. She misses no opportunity to remind the reader that she's queer, that she identifies as queer, that bisexual is the old word but queer is what we call it now. I'm sure that repetition, along with other repeated declarations, is absolutely intentional. She doesn't want that part of herself, or the movement, to be erased. After sitting on it, I came to the realization that these repetitions were not editorial oversights, they were statements. I appreciated how much she included her romantic relationships and recognized how they shaped her life and journey. The story of how she connects with her current partner is beautiful (and some would say unconventional, but that's part of why I loved it).I would love to donate enough reader copies of this book to fill an entire shelf of my old high school library. I think everyone could benefit from reading this book, but teens especially would benefit from reading Patrisse Khan-Cullors's story. I'll certainly be passing my copy along.
    more
Write a review