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When They Call You a Terrorist Review

Updated: Jan 6, 2021

A memoir by one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, this book details Cullors’ life from when her brothers are routinely harassed by police, to one of her brother’s incarceration leaving him unable to receive treatment for his mental health, to her father being imprisoned time and again, to her founding of the BLM movement.


Antiracism, memoir, queer, nonfiction


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 Patrisse, the most vulnerable people in the country are Black people. Deliberately and ruthlessly targeted by a criminal justice system serving a white privilege agenda, Black people are subjected to unjustifiable racial profiling and police brutality. In 2013, when Trayvon Martin’s killer went free, Patrisse’s outrage led her to co-found Black Lives Matter with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi.

Condemned as terrorists and as a threat to America, these loving women founded a hashtag that birthed the movement to demand accountability from the authorities who continually turn a blind eye to the injustices inflicted upon people of Black and Brown skin.

Championing human rights in the face of violent racism, Patrisse is a survivor. She transformed her personal pain into political power, giving voice to a people suffering inequality and a movement fueled by her strength and love to tell the country―and the world―that Black Lives Matter.


This is raw emotion, providing a true account of the kind of life many people face due to policing. It’s a difficult book but hopeful, as Cullors believes change can be made if people organize. She fights the oppression around her and joins with others to create a movement that would affirm the value of Black lives.

If anyone doubted the severe impact the police and incarceration system have, let those doubts be dispelled. Cullors writes of how this unforgiving system tears families apart and keeps people trapped and unable to improve, no matter how much they want to.

Her brother has a mental health crisis and their only choice is to call the police, the same group who have tortured and imprisoned him and immediately threaten to tase him. Her dad works for years on his drug addiction, yet when he suffers an inevitable relapse as many people with illnesses do, he is ripped from his life once more.

Cullors struggles to even have a family, when immigration systems prevent her significant other from joining her and she lives in fear for her newborn child. When she fights back, she is labeled a terrorist, like so many other BLM activists.

Yet she continues to fight and organize despite threats to her life, and remains a committed activist to destroy a system which treats Black lives like nothing. She and others like her don’t give up, even after hundreds of years of oppression, in imagining and creating a better world.

A beautiful memoir of resilience and resistance in the face of a brutal, inhuman system.

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