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

Contributors

Reviewer (text)

Maya Gittelman

With grace and rage, through devastation and resilience, Patrisse Khan-Cullors shares the makings of her own personhood and activism, as well as the origins of Black Lives Matter. WHEN THEY CALL YOU A TERRORIST is a book both exquisite and harrowing. In reading what Khan-Cullors endured, and what she and the movement works so hard to defend and protect, you think: It shouldn't have to be like this. It shouldn’t be like this. She shouldn’t have to do this. But here we are. And she did. And she does.

This is the memoir of a single woman and of a movement. Khan-Cullors and award-winning author asha bandele begin and end with calls to hope and action. They detail Khan-Cullors’ childhood, and her relationships with her parents and other family members. The heart of the book is their discussion of what it’s like to grow up Black in America --- on its streets, in its schools, under threat and non-protection of its justice system. For Khan-Cullors, growing up Black in America is inextricably linked to growing up a woman in America, and queer in America. She is intersectional in her memoir and in her activism, not only because she knows it is necessary, but because it is how she navigates the world.

"Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele have crafted an urgent, direct, informed and compassionate volume. I deeply encourage everyone to read it."

She is also consciously inclusive of health and mental health issues. The book details the experiences of her father, who struggled with cycles of addiction, and her older brother, Monte, who would come to be diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Before his diagnosis, he was arrested, for behavior that comes out of untreated mental illness. He was never violent or a threat to anyone. He served years, without receiving treatment, in a prison that later would be sued for torture.

Khan-Cullors has been organizing nearly all of her life and is well aware of the stakes. She understands the mechanics of systems of poverty, policing and intersectional inequality. When Trayvon Martin’s killer was acquitted on all charges, her friend Alicia Garza wrote a Facebook post about how she refused to give up on Black life. And Khan-Cullors wrote back: #BlackLivesMatter. They began to brainstorm a pattern of resistance, and Garza reached out to organizer Opal Tometi. This trio became the mothers of Black Lives Matter. They spent months, even years, being pushed to the background of the narrative they themselves created as the media focused on Black men. But Khan-Cullors, Garza and Tometi are the true creators of the movement. They work, as Khan-Cullors emphasizes in her book, to ensure it continues to be woman-led, queer-inclusive, trans- and gender-non-conforming inclusive, health-conscious and accessible. They want the movement to become bigger than the three of them, and it has.

This is a book about one woman’s capacity to love herself and her family and friends so hard she knows the power in that love. This is a book about one woman’s journey into a deeper, fuller love and her journey to spread that love --- to teach it, to work towards kindness, peace and breath, to work to get to a place where she doesn’t have to live in fear for herself or her loved ones, but can put all her bountiful energy towards creation and positivity. This is a book about an inclusive movement of visibility and justice. This is not a book that can be pinned down easily. It’s a memoir, a story of living history. This is not a book that I have any right to tell you about. It speaks for itself.

Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele have crafted an urgent, direct, informed and compassionate volume. I deeply encourage everyone to read it.

Teaser

From one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement comes a poetic memoir and reflection on humanity. Patrisse Cullors’ story asks us to remember that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love. Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have been called terrorists, a threat to America. But in truth, they are loving women whose life experiences have led them to seek justice for those victimized by the powerful. Here, Patrisse Cullors and asha bandele seek to change the culture that declares innocent black life expendable.

Promo

From one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement comes a poetic memoir and reflection on humanity. Patrisse Cullors’ story asks us to remember that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love. Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have been called terrorists, a threat to America. But in truth, they are loving women whose life experiences have led them to seek justice for those victimized by the powerful. Here, Patrisse Cullors and asha bandele seek to change the culture that declares innocent black life expendable.

About the Book

The emotional and powerful story of one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter and how the movement was born.

From one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement comes a poetic memoir and reflection on humanity. Necessary and timely, Patrisse Cullors’ story asks us to remember that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love. Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have been called terrorists, a threat to America. But in truth, they are loving women whose life experiences have led them to seek justice for those victimized by the powerful. In this meaningful, empowering account of survival, strength and resilience, Patrisse Cullors and asha bandele seek to change the culture that declares innocent black life expendable.

Audiobook available, read by Patrisse Khan-Cullors