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Check It Out: When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullor & Asha Bandele

This is Barb Gross with the Sioux City Public Library, and you’re listening to “Check it Out.” As a new year’s resolution – which now seems like a lifetime ago – a friend and I began a quest to read two books each month written by African American authors. By reading more diversely, we hope to increase our empathy for the experiences of black people in America. Little did we know how important this reading would be now. 

From our book list I’m recommending When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele. The book is a few years old, but more relevant today than ever. Khan-Cullors invented the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter in 2013, and is a co-founder of that organization.

Patrisse Khan-Cullors grew up in southern California. She writes that she was raised “between the twin terrors of poverty and the police,” in a place where she and her brothers and sister were always treated “like suspects” and crack cocaine “filled the empty spaces for a lot of people whose lives have been emptied out.” Her single mother worked three jobs to support the family, which meant Patrisse and her siblings rarely spent time with her. This was life in the “post-Reagan, post-social safety net generation.” 

Many issues are woven through this small book.  It is a poignant story that shares the life experiences of people behind a movement that is working to affect change in communities across America through positions of love, humanity, and justice.  

Check out this moving memoir, and other books by authors of color at the Sioux City Public Library.

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Avery Brothers.