When they call you a terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir (Review)

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‘I hope it impacts more than we can ever imagine.’

– Patrisse Khan-Cullors, one of the founders of #BlackLivesMatter

The #BlackLivesMatter movement is one of the most prominent modern movements coming out of the United States. After the recent coverage of race-based violence by white folks from police officers to people on the street against African-Americans, Patrisse Khan-Cullors writes a first-hand account on why she co-founded along with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi the Black Lives Matter movement, a chapter-based group formed in the US whose mission is to “build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”

The memoir, co-written by asha bandele, is a short memoir (257 pages) but it is engaging from start to finish. As a white cis-female reading this, it made me think the privilege I have of being born white – I don’t have to worry about being stopped by police or coming from a race that has a large incarceration rate. Reading this memoir made me think about the similar race problem that we have in Australia. According to Amnesty International, Indigenous children make up 1 in 15 kids in Australia and half of all children in Australia’s youth detention centres. As of 10th May 2019, 89 children (half of them were Indigenous, and three were 10 years of age) in the Brisbane City Watch House, a facility for adults.

The memoir moved me to be a better ally to people of colour (POC for short) and to acknowledge that because I am white, I come from the place of privilege. One part of the memoir moved me. This part was about Mike Brown, an 18-year old African-American who was gunned down by police on August 9th, 2014.

“But here in Ferguson, Mike Brown was part of the fabric of a community not sectioned off by gates. He was known here. Here, he was loved. We see people out in the streets, in small groups, in larger ones, sometimes by themselves. They are wearing Mike Brown t-shirts. They are hosting small protests or teach-ins. One person holds a Prosecute Darren Wilson sign. There is graffiti on walls that reads simply and bodly: We Love Mike Brown.”

The memoir is a must-read. It certainly checks your privilege and makes you understand the reason as to why Patrisse and others start this powerful movement. To create equality and to put an end to the injustice of African-Americans and other POCs when it comes to feeling safe and protected.

Iesha Evans in the famous photo. Photograph: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

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