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When They Call You A Terrorist

A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir is by far one of the best book I’ve read in awhile. It is an easy and poetic read with immense intensity. The author, Patrisse Khan-Cullors is one of the three #BlackLivesMatter founders, along with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. This is Khan-Cullors’ memoir of growing up in LA during the height of the war on drugs, and the ever present war on Black and Brown people in the US.

Throughout the book we meet Khan-Cullors’ family. At one point Khan-Cullors is with her biological father at one of his lowest points:

“I have never seen him high before but I refuse to turn away. If he matters to me at all then he has to matter to me at every moment. He has to matter to me at this moment. Seeing him like this feels like my soul is being pulled over shards of glass but I do not turn away. His life is not expendable. Our love is not disposable. I will not be to him what the world has been to him. I will not throw him away. I will not say he has nothing to offer.”

Acting with the premise that every life is valuable and important, Khan-Cullors attempts to show love to those around her while dealing with the traumas of the racist prison industrial complex that surrounds her community. Her brother Monty struggles with schizoaffective disorder, and is in and out of the prison system instead of mental health institutions, at one point getting “strike three” and facing life in prison.

Experiences of seeing injustices growing up led Khan-Cullors to help ushed in #BlackLivesMatter and the Movement for Black Lives. However, Khan-Cullors reflects on how her story played out to the media:

“Opal, Alica and I never wanted or needed to be the center of anything. We were purposeful about decentralizing our role in the world. But neither did we want nor deserve to be erased. I could tell you it wass painful to watch the story of Black Lives Matter told without us, but the truth is that it was enraging.”

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© Copyright 2018 Annie Windholz

midwestern librarian, writer, activist. subscribe —

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