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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

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  6,989 ratings  ·  1,254 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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4.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,989 ratings  ·  1,254 reviews

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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.
Kate ☀️ Olson
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
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.
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
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
Stacie C
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, e-book-arcs
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
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
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
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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 n
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
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
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
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
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
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.

Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bios-memoirs
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.
Alison Hardtmann
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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
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
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
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.
Morgan Gayle
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Audiobook listen
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 ...more
Lena Irish
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
thoughts coming shortly
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"And if ever someone calls my child a terrorist, if they call any of the children in my life terrorists, I will hold my child, any child, close to me and I will explain that terrorism is being stalked and surveilled simply because you are alive. And terrorism is being put in solitary confinement and starved and beaten. And terrorism is not being able to feed your children despite working three jobs. And terrorism is not having a decent school or a place to play. I will tell them that what freedo ...more
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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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
“What is the impact of not being valued?
How do you measure the loss of what a human being does not receive?”
“The binary that makes a person either good or bad is a dangerously false one for the widest majority of people. I am beginning to see that more than a single truth can live at the same time and in the same person.” 8 likes
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