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

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

Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele. St. Martin’s, $24.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-17108-5

Activist Khan-Cullors, one of the cofounders of the Black Lives Matter movement, draws a clear line from her early life to her political activism in this potent memoir, co-written with Bandele (The Prisoner’s Wife). Over the course of the book, she plots the hardships she and her family experienced on a larger map of social and racial injustice in America. Steeped in humanity and powerful prose, Khan-Cullors’s memoir describes her brother’s battle with mental illness, her father’s drug addition, both of the men’s multiple encounters with the criminal justice system, and her own life in an economically disenfranchised Southern California community. She writes of how she “spent [her] childhood watching [her] brother get arrested” and of the ironies of inequity, as when, at the dinner table of a white schoolmate, she realizes that her friend’s nice father is her slumlord, “the very same man who allowed [her] family to subsist without a working refrigerator for the better part of a year.” She’s personally forthcoming, sharing the heartbreak she experiences as she loses her father and the healing she found among her community of activists. This is an eye-opening and eloquent coming-of-age story from one of the leaders in the new generation of social activists. (Jan.)

An earlier version of this review listed the incorrect ISBN.