Title: When They Call You a Terrorist
Author: Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele
Format: ARC Paperback, 257 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: January 16, 2018
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I received this ARC from St. Martin’s Press for free in return for providing my honest and unbiased review.
When They Call You a Terrorist is heartbreaking. I don’t usually read nonfiction, but this year is all about expanding my horizons and diversifying my reading. So, when I saw this pop up I knew I had to read it; especially with the current climate in the U.S.
When I first started reading I wondered when Khan-Cullors was going to get to the terrorist calling bit, but then I realized that she’d been talking about it from Chapter 1. She talks about seeing her brothers and their friends, all under the age of 14, thrown against the wall by the police and searched. And all they were doing was standing around laughing, talking, minding their business. Kahn-Cullors tells us this will not be the last time that they are subjected to this type of harassment by police and it’s done all under the guise of The War on Drugs.
Kahn-Cullors continues her tale by telling the reader how her mentally ill brother Monte was treated by not only the police, but the justice system and while he was incarcerated. She relates that with his first stint in prison he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and bipolar; however these diagnoses didn’t warrant proper treatment. Her brother, Monte, was often put in solitary, strapped down, beaten to submission, and left to deteriorate further into his psychoses. She talks about how her brother was charged with Terrorism when he was in a full blown psychotic episode. How he was labeled a gang member for just hanging out with friends.
I know from watching television that there is a relatively large population of mentally ill patients in the prison system and I know that law enforcement is ill-equipped and not adequately trained in recognizing and dealing with persons with mental illness, but to read this not only shocked me to my core. It disgusted me.
In Part II, I was surprised to learn the real foundation of #BlackLivesMatter. It is not only committed to ending the violence against black people, but it was also founded to support Black Trans folk, especially women. It was also founded to assert that all Black Lives Matter regardless of sexuality.
So, why should #BlackLivesMatter be labeled as a Terrorist group? Why was there a petition circulated and signed by over 140,000 people to label this organization a Terrorist group? Why do we choose to ignore the disenfranchised and blame them for all of their problems?