When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir
by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele
Released January 16, 2018
St. Martin's Press
I had been wanting to read this book since hearing Rebecca Schinsky talk about it on the All The Books podcast earlier this year. I bought my copy from the museum gift shop at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
When They Call You a Terrorist is a memoir that follows Patrisse Khan-Cullors and her family as they experience police throughout their lives. She writes matter-of-factly about the times her brothers are detained by the police without merit, the time her partner is pulled from their bed in the middle of the night because he fits the description of some minor crime that just happened, her brother's experiences in and out of prison and how he is denied his mental health medication while there.
It all paints a vivid picture of how different people of color experience day-to-day life in the United States.
Khan-Cullors started the hashtag #blacklivesmatter during a written discussion with a friend. Along with a few others, Khan-Cullors went on to turn that into a movement with peaceful protests and speaking up at political events, on Rodeo Drive, and anywhere they could. By the time she builds to this part of her life, the reader is able to better understand why it was so necessary.
Khan-Cullors also describes her experiences as a queer black woman, as well as that of other people of color from the LGBTQ community.
This is an important book at a time when white people like me are trying to understand the deep-rooted anger and fear that our counterparts of color have experienced all along. Where have we been? How could we have missed this?
Whether you are interested in the Black Lives Matter movement (and you should be) or you just like a good memoir, this book is for you. It is not an easy read because of the content and the questions you will find yourself struggling with, but it is a necessary read.
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