We were under no illusions that this book would be an easy read, nonetheless, When They Call You A Terrorist, A Black Lives Matter Memoir, should be on your reading list. Our literary contributor, Vanessa Thomas shares her review.

I began this book completely aware that I was going to be blown away, and that doesn’t even cover it. When They Call You A Terrorist is a moving and harrowing memoir by the phenomenal co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele. This highly anticipated book chronicles Khan-Cullors journey to Black Lives Matter, involving every nuance of the horrific police brutality and systemic racism that aims to quite literally tear her family apart.

When they call you a terrorist
Authors; (centre) Patrisse Khan-Cullors and (right) Asha Bandele

From childhood to adulthood, Khan-Cullors details her experiences of the abhorrent and violent ways through which racism rears its ugly head. From under funding schools in predominantly black areas, to police finding reasons to stop and search black children with no justifiable cause, to the radically different treatment black and white substance abusers receive.

“My father who got cages instead of compassion”.

Despite every set back or loss of life, Khan-Cullors, initially at community level, set about bringing people together, challenging local police departments, ensuring people were held to account and basically getting on the establishments damn nerves! However, it’s the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin, a 14 year old Black boy walking home from the corner shop, that gives life to the Black Lives Matter movement as we know it today.

To me, the term Black Lives Matter, doesn’t need clarifying or explaining, but it has come up against a lot of criticism for being divisive *eye roll* and violent. Through Khan-Cullors personal experiences and decades of statistics and facts, the book details why the movement is crucial and what it aims to do.

Captured perfectly in the foreword by none other than formidable activist Angela Davis;

“The seemingly simple phrase “Black Lives Matter” has disrupted undisputed assumptions about the logic of equality, justice, and human freedom in the United States and all over the world. It has encouraged us to question the capacity of logic, Western logic, to undo the forces of history, especially the history of colonialism and slavery.”

When They Call You A Terrorist is an essential read, and the double AA batteries needed to charge you up to navigate these murky waters that we find ourselves in today.

Buy the book here.



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