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Book Review: When They Call You a Terrorist

Book Review: When They Call You a Terrorist
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    In today's "what I'm reading," we have When "They Call You a Terrorist" Black Lives
    Matter memoir by Patrice Kahn Cullors and Asha Bandele. Patrice is one of the
    cofounders of black lives matter and the reason why I picked up the book was
    because I met Patrice in 2015 and was really intrigued by their story and was
    curious what came before such a public life what fueled her to to do all that
    she's done and is doing and so I think if you read this book you get a sense of
    what politicized Patrice and why she has such a love for black people, why black
    lives matter, and how the love of black people fuels black lives matter one of
    the surprises of the book was that it wasn't just about Patrice's story and
    her development but how her brother Monty or father Gabriel, her mom so many
    people how their experiences shaped her thinking if you read this book you see
    people humanized. Gabriel her father isn't just a number in the prison
    industrial complex he's a full human being who struggles with addiction. her
    brother is a young man who struggles with mental illness. these men are so
    much more than their addiction in their mental illness, yet the book helps you
    understand how systems of oppression exacerbate their experiences negatively
    rather than support them or help put in preventive measures. and their stories
    are not singular. there are ways in which this book brings into view some of the
    basic and everyday ways that tragically black lives are targeted and impacted
    negatively this book made me feel heavy at times proud I cried I raged there
    were times where I put the book down and said to my partner like you won't
    believe this because I think as a as a psychologist Monty story just hit me
    hard that this young man didn't have an infrastructure to help
    identify what was happening with him support the family and navigating care
    that the police had so damaged his trust for authority and help that he was
    hesitant and it took a lot of work to get him to agree to go get help. that
    there were times that he went unmedicated or over medicated and it was
    all at the whim or what suited the people in authority, not what was best
    for him. and that disregard for his humanity and his dignity inherent in who
    he is made me angry and knowing that the largest mass of mental health patients
    is in the LA Jail that is maddening and for me as a psychologist I understand
    the depth of pain that individuals must be in and the like the callousness
    and disregard that we have for humanity if we don't support their health their
    mental health let alone all the other ways that the prison system breaks
    people I mentioned that black people aren't a monolith right so racism of
    course impacts us but also homophobia and heterosexism and classism and so
    Patrice's story brings in all of those intersecting identities and there's this
    moment where she's sitting at the table she had been plucked out of her
    neighborhood and chosen to go to a predominantly white school in a neighborhood
    nearby that was very different than her neighborhood and she's sitting at dinner
    with one of her friends and the family is all sitting down and the father's
    asking about their day and their dreams and she talked about how idyllic that
    scene was but then as he continues to talk she puts together the fact that
    HE'S their slum Lord. he's the one that allows the building they live in their
    apartment their appliances to be in disrepair and so sitting in that
    contradiction is it's messy it's messy and so to be witness to her reflection
    on all of those experiences was was really a gift and it made me think about
    how often we accept things as just the way they are that young black
    kids might in a way get plucked out of their neighborhoods to go to a "good
    school," and how it's seen as oh they're so lucky that they get to go to
    somewhere that's resourced. and we often don't stop to ask "don't all those other
    kids who aren't plucked out also deserve to be resourced?" why are we accepting that
    only a few should get to escape and even this idea that you escaped escaped from
    your neighborhood where your home is rather than how about we make an
    investment in neighborhoods and schools so that everyone can be in a place that
    they're healthy, safe, resourced, educated, and maybe think about the idea of
    appropriated oppression and how its those dynamics where it's easy to pick
    up 'oh well if I've been plucked out, I must be better than or
    these people must be worse than and if I am trying to get out of my neighborhood
    then there must be something wrong with it inherently rather than helping people
    understand the systemic ways in which neighborhoods are divested and people
    and whole groups are stripped of their humanity there are lots of messages that
    could be inferred right you have people who are left behind and aren't plucked
    thinking oh I'm not good enough. you have people looking on from the outside to
    say oh look only a few of them can cut it in these good schools so it messes
    everyone up to leave areas of our communities so divested. and as I was
    reading the book I really felt my kind of class privilege and I realized you
    know my parents are of the generation where they grew up in an under resourced
    district and chose to raise us in a problem white really resource district
    and yet they made sure that we knew that we were no different no better than
    other people in our family who didn't make the same choice or who couldn't
    make the same choice and so what might look like a good program the busing the
    the transfer programs still perpetuates an idea of inferiority of black people
    and I think it's worth us disrupting that and questioning that
    narrative because it's simply not the case. this book made me think about a
    lot of those dynamics and it's through Patrice's story that we see how black
    lives matter is not just a demand it's a plea it's a prayer it's a hope and yet
    it's the truth and her book does a beautiful job of helping us understand
    the intersecting and overlaying ways in which black people have been dehumanized.
    even though the truth is black lives matter we have yet to act in a way as a
    country like black lives MATTER. therefore, we have her story. and I won't
    ruin it but the wind they call you a terrorist is not just about her there's
    some other layers in there that make you understand how loosely and falsely
    people can be accused of terrorism simply for asserting themselves and
    their own dignity so I'll leave you with that hopefully that's a teaser enough to
    get you to pick it up and check out her Facebook live discussion of lv.1 March
    29th in the evening on Facebook live and probably some other ones I know she's
    also doing book tours but this is worth picking up and if you can hear her in
    first person talk about her life experience it is worth making happen
    thanks for listening if you've read the book let me know what resonated with you.
    what questions does it have you pondering? what did you want to discuss
    with your friends and family after reading it? let me know in the comments,
    subscribe to my YouTube channel, and we'll see
    you next time on "what I'm reading."
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