Black Lives Matter Memoir Reveals the Human Cost of America’s Drug War & Police Militarization

By January 7, 2018February 21st, 2018News & Current Affairs
When They Call You a Terrorist

From one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, who helped turn a hashtag into global movement, comes a poetic memoir and reflection on humanity co-authored with award-winning author, journalist and activist, Asha Bandele. Necessary and timely, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir (St. Martin’s Press; January 16, 2018; $24.99 hardcover), asks us to remember that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love. Patrisse and other leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have been called terrorists and a threat to America. But in truth, they are loving women whose life experiences have led them to seek justice for those victimized by the powerful.

When They Call You a Terrorist takes an intimate look at Khan-Cullors’ childhood in in Van Nuys, California—an epicenter of the drug war. Surrounded by a devoted family and supportive friends, Khan-Cullor’s experience is woven into a larger narrative about the constant and hostile presence and actions of law enforcement against primarily young Black and Latino people. From the harsh actions of the police, to the lack of basic social and medical services, Khan-Cullors and bandele show how the absence of personal security and dignity makes daily life an act of survival.

When They Call You a TerroristThe book is garnering extensive praise – chosen as one of the “Best Books of the Month”by Amazon, selected as one of “13 books to read in January” by Entertainment Weekly, and highlighted as one of the “most anticipated books of January 2018” by Vogue.

In When They Call You a Terrorist, Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele seek to change the culture that declares innocent Black life expendable.

“In America, we incarcerate pain and trauma, rather than treat it. That’s what was done to my family and so many others. In many ways, this book is about exposing these kind of unacceptable choices and suggesting another way is possible,” said Patrisse Khan Cullors.

“The hope I have in telling this story, is that people will finally locate pathology where it belongs – with our nation’s drug war and criminal justice policies. They make us less safe, cause more harm than good, and have been used as tools to destabilize, rather than undergird, Black, Brown and poor people,” said asha bandele, a senior director at the Drug Policy Alliance.

About Authors

Patrisse Khan-cullors

Patrisse Khan-cullors is an artist, organizer, and freedom fighter from Los Angeles, CA. Co-founder of Black Lives Matter, she is also a performance artist, Fulbright scholar, popular public speaker, and an NAACP History Maker. In 2016, Patrisse received the Defender of the Dream Award from the AFL-CIO Executive Council Committee on Civil and Human Rights, the Revolution Award for Freedom from ImageNation Cinema Foundation, the Justice Award from National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Community Change Agent Award from BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Inc., and the Glamour Women of the Year Award for The Justice Seekers. In 2017, Khan-Cullors received the Sydney Peace Prize.

Asha Bandele

Asha Bandele, author of the best-selling and award-winning memoir, The Prisoner’s Wife, and four other works, has been honored for her work in journalism, fiction, poetry, and activism. A mother and a former senior editor at Essence magazine, Asha serves as a senior director at the Drug Policy Alliance.


“Steeped in humanity and powerful prose … This is an eye-opening and eloquent coming-of-age story from one of the leaders in the new generation of social activists.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

“With great candor about her complex personal life, Khan-Cullors has created a memoir as compelling as a page-turning novel.” — Booklist, starred review

“This searing, timely look into a contemporary movement from one of its crucial leading voices belongs in all collections.” — Library Journal Review, starred review

“To call the founders of BLM terrorists is an unconscionable lie. This strikinglybeautiful memoir puts the lie to the notion that Black Lives Matter comes from anything other than a place of love–love of self, community, people, and,ultimately, the very soul of a democraticnation. BLM seeks to acknowledge thetruth, and Patrisse Cullors’ story is a moral example to th enation.” — Michael Eric Dyson, New York Times bestselling author of Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America

“This remarkable book reveals what inspired Patrisse’s visionary and courageous activism and forces us to face the consequence of the choices our nation made when we criminalized a generation.This book is a must-read for all of us.” — Michelle Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of The New Jim Crow

“I admire Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele’scourage not to stay silent about what matters in our world. Responsible, awakening and powerful.” – Nick Cannon

“Patrisse Khan-Cullors is a leading visionary and activist, feminist, and civil rights leader who has literally changed the trajectory of politics and resistance in America.” — Eve Ensler, bestsellingauthor

“This book tells why we all share the responsibility to move those three words from an aspiration into a new reality.” – American Book Award Winner Jeff Chang

“Withgreat candor about her complex personal life, Khan-Cullors has created a memoiras compelling as a page-turning novel.” – Booklist Starred Review

“With assistance from bandele, Khan-Cullors synthesizes memoir and polemic … an important account of coming of age within today’s explosive racial dynamic.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“This searing, timely look into a contemporary movement from one of its crucial leading voices belongs in all collections.” — Library Journal Starred Review


When They Call You a Terrorist: Asha Bandele on the War on Drugs


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


About IBW21

IBW21 (The Institute of the Black World 21st Century) is committed to building the capacity of Black communities in the U.S. to work for the social, political, economic and cultural upliftment, the development of the global Black community and an enhanced quality of life for all marginalized people.