When They Call You a Terrorist Book Summary - When They Call You a Terrorist Book explained in key points
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When They Call You a Terrorist summary

Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele

A Black Lives Matter Memoir

3.8 (33 ratings)
17 mins

Brief summary

When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele chronicles Khan-Cullors experiences growing up Black and queer in America, founding the Black Lives Matter movement, and fighting for justice and equality for marginalized communities.

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    When They Call You a Terrorist
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    Patrisse Khan-Cullors’ childhood was marred by poverty and police persecution.

    For many American children, childhood is a time of innocence and security. Unfortunately for the author, her childhood wasn’t filled with particularly much of either. In fact, it was defined by two very different things: poverty and the police.

    The author’s impoverished upbringing in 1990s Los Angeles was typical of many Black American childhoods at the time.

    Her mother was a single parent and spent sixteen hours a day working multiple jobs. Despite all her hard work, she sometimes still couldn’t afford food for her children. The author recalls that there was often only cereal to be had. Indeed, for over a year, they didn’t even have milk for their cereal, because their slum landlord refused to replace their broken refrigerator. They made do with water.

    Even when they could afford more nutritious food, there were few places in the neighborhood to get it. In fact, the only place that sold groceries was a 7-Eleven convenience store. Other than that, the only outlets to buy food or drink were a liquor store and fast-food joints. In other words, with so little money and so few choices, the author’s mother struggled to keep her children supplied with enough healthy, nurturing meals.

    In addition to poverty, the author and her siblings were forced to contend with a continual police presence in their neighborhood. Whereas many white communities perceive the police as existing to protect and serve them, the author learned early on that the law enforcement’s objective in Black communities is to harass and control them. At the tender age of nine, the author witnessed her 12-year-old brother and his friends being thrown up against the wall by police officers, before being partially stripped and searched. What were the boys doing to warrant this suspicion? They were simply talking in an alleyway, next to the author’s house. After that incident, the police began arresting the author’s teenage brothers on a regular basis. Although her mother eventually moved her family to another area of the city to try to shield her sons from the attention of law enforcement, they were still regularly harassed by the police, and their mother realized there was very little she could do to protect her sons.

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    What is When They Call You a Terrorist about?

    When They Call You a Terrorist (2017) is the memoir of Black Lives Matter cofounder Patrisse Khan-Cullors. Full of shocking anecdotes and statistics concerning systemic racism and police brutality against Black Americans, the book details Khan-Cullors’ childhood deprivations, her family’s struggles and the events that led to the formation of the world’s most prolific modern-day civil-rights groups.  

    When They Call You a Terrorist Review

    When They Call You a Terrorist (2018) explores the life and activism of Patrisse Khan-Cullors, co-founder of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Through raw and powerful storytelling, it sheds light on systemic racism, social injustice, and the reality of being labeled a terrorist.
    • The book offers a deeply personal perspective, allowing readers to connect with the struggles, resilience, and determination of the author.
    • By addressing issues of racial profiling, mass incarceration, and the criminalization of black communities, it ignites important conversations about the need for social change.

    Who should read When They Call You a Terrorist?

    • Activists curious about civil-rights movements
    • Mindful citizens concerned about current affairs
    • Anyone interested in shocking true-life stories

    About the Author

    Patrisse Khan-Cullors is a founder and leader of the Black Lives Matter movement.

    Asha Bandele is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist.

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    When They Call You a Terrorist FAQs 

    What is the main message of When They Call You a Terrorist?

    The main message of When They Call You a Terrorist is an exploration of racism, police violence, and the power of activism and community.

    How long does it take to read When They Call You a Terrorist?

    The reading time for When They Call You a Terrorist varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is When They Call You a Terrorist a good book? Is it worth reading?

    When They Call You a Terrorist is a powerful and thought-provoking book that offers important insights into racial injustice. It is definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of When They Call You a Terrorist?

    The authors of When They Call You a Terrorist are Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele.

    What to read after When They Call You a Terrorist?

    If you're wondering what to read next after When They Call You a Terrorist, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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