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

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  21,694 ratings  ·  2,839 reviews
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
Hardcover, 257 pages
Published January 16th 2018 by St. Martin's Press
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Average rating 4.47  · 
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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
Victoria Schwab
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh man, a difficult, but powerful book.
Mario the lone bookwolf
A very important work, using shocking autobiographical experiences to show and transport what it means to be systematically discriminated against throughout one´s whole life, opening the eyes of the privileged ones who have the potential and influence to help boosting a change after half a century of deliberately diminishing the quality of life, chances, and potential of black people.

„You are fighting for your rights after centuries of unspeakable atrocities, mass impoverishment, a lack of dist
Kate Olson
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Rage Against Poverty and Police

Racial hatred is the root evil of society. It is the emblem and model for all other kinds of prejudice and exclusion. Its core is in language which is used to degrade and ostracise. Where it exists it poisons society against itself. When it is tolerated, it dominates the life of society. When such tolerance is rationalised as a matter of personal right or necessary for social stability, any attempt to eliminate it is perceived as an act of terrorism. This is the ca
Shirley Revill
A book that everyone should read because it carries such a strong but equally sad message.
I find it sad that people can be treated differently by some people just because of the colour of their skin.
To me we are all the same and what really matters is the love we have for each other, that's the important thing.
All lives matter but till the day arrives that people realise this I can only live in hope that one day this will become a reality.
4.5★ #BLM #Juneteenth

“I also think about men like Brock Turner, the Stanford star swimmer, who raped a woman and got six months. Six months because the judge said Turner couldn’t make it in prison, that prison wasn’t for him. But it was made for Richie? For Monte? For my father? My God. Is that not reason enough to shut it down?
. . .
I wonder if any of our kids ever get the proverbial slap on the wrist. The ‘C’mon son. You can do better than this.’ The ‘Let’s go talk to his parents. Maybe he ne
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a powerful memoir, both about a movement and a woman's strength in the face of absolute racism and horror. Patrisse Khan-Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, shares her story about growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in Los Angeles in a poor and loving family. We learn about the intimacies of her childhood, about how her mother worked multiple jobs and still struggled to make a living wage, the development of her queer identity, her brother's unjust and devastating ...more
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
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
A really interesting and passionate memoir by one of the founders of Black Lives Matter movement. Patrisse Khan-Cullors' story is weirdly both traumatizing and full of love. Maybe not so weird for a low income, African-American family in an urban environment. Of course Cullors' family fulfills none of the stereotypes with which they are victimized . In fact that's a huge part of what this book is: the stripping of labels and stereotypes. Within this memoir is the story of a very intelligent, art ...more
Stacie C
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Rachel Bea
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 ...more
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
A fast-moving and powerful look into the life of one the most prominent anti-racist activists working in America today. Khan-Cullors seamlessly embeds bits of social history and policy into her account of her life, which she’s always sure to frame as representative; the work’s ideal as an introduction into the fight for racial justice, though the writing feels rushed at times.
"This is what that cop did to him. He shot bullets into the top of his head as he knelt on the ground with his hands up."

In a perfect world, this book would not have been written. It would not have been written because it wouldn't have needed to be written. In a perfect world, there would be no Black Lives Matter movement. There would be no such movement because Black lives truly would matter. In a perfect world, there would be no inequality, injustice, hatred, or violence. There would be no
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 follows the author's
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I'd been wanting to read this for a while and my hold at the library for the audiobook finally came through, just at a time where the book seems particularly important. Then again, reading it and other books, listening to conversations that are going on about race and prejudice and privilege, I am realizing it, or rather it's message, has been important for hundreds of years. While this book was more memoir than I realized it would be, it was still interesting and highlighted aspects of the Blac ...more
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
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
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: african-american
What a Wonderful World

I did not want to read a book like this; instead, while I wanted to read a book about the lives of blacks, I wanted one like “Mama Day” by Gloria Naylor, a fun read, a good life. I loved her book, but most of all, I wanted to believe that her book was mostly true, that their lives were better, were normal. I wanted the Jim Crow Laws behind us, the slavery, and all the cruelty. But I knew that the Jim Crow laws were still here, just that I did not know the complete extent of
J Beckett
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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 ...more
Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This memoir is so raw and personal. I had to keep reminding myself that this isn’t fiction, this is real, this happened — is happening to so many innocent Black lives.

How can someone striving for equality and freedom be labelled a terrorist? With no violence, no threatening behaviour and no harm towards another human being at all? “They rewrote the laws, but they didn’t rewrite white supremacy." Patrisse Khan-Cullors highlights her fears and what growing up in a community where police patrol yo
Chanda Prescod-weinstein
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 stars
History: 3-4 stars
Writing style (this is really not terribly important at the end of the day for a book with this kind of content): 4 stars

The 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
Megan Rogers
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, own
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.
Lisa Kentgen
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.

Never Without a Book
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Mariah Roze
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this Goodreads' book club for the Diversity in All Froms! If you would like to participate in the discussion here is the link:

"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 Amer
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Why I Recommend Bumping This UP On Your TBR:
The author is a black queer woman whose father was diagnosed with Substance Use Disorder and whose brother was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder. I thought that the author handled the topics of race, queerness, SUD, and mental health perfectly. I especially enjoyed how she wrote about what it was like before she had knowledge and insight, and immediately compared it to what she knows now, never leaving the reader with any harmful messages. I appr
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Patrisse Cullors is a artist, organizer, and freedom fighter from Los Angeles, CA. Cofounder of Black Lives Matter, she is also a performance artist, Fulbright scholar, popular public speaker, and an NAACP History Maker. She’s received many awards for activism and movement building, including being named by the Los Angeles Times as a Civil Rights Leader for the 21st Century and a Glamour 2016 Woma ...more

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