When They Call You a Terrorist: A #BlackLivesMatter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & asha bandele #Review @OsopePatrisse @ashabandele @StMartinsPress

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

When I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. Like so many others, I have often watched the news in horror when yet another African-American man or woman (or worse, a child) has been killed without provocation, when they were doing nothing wrong. It was horrible enough when the killer was just a regular citizen, but the horror I felt increased ten-fold when their deaths came at the hands of police officers—someone who is meant to serve and protect all of us, regardless of race. (I guess I’m a bit naive, because I always expect justice to be served, punishment meted out for the guilty party—and I’m stunned when it doesn’t happen.)

I remember suddenly hearing “Black Lives Matter” being talked about on the news, seeing the hashtag on social media, and—almost as quickly—seeing negative opinions about it on Facebook. I wanted to know what Black Lives Matter was about, and—rather than take some random naysayer’s opinion as fact—I looked it up. Their mission statement begins:

The Black Lives Matter Global Network is a chapter-based, member-led organization whose mission is to build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.

The entirety of the mission statement can be read on the Black Lives Matter website.

I won’t pretend to have a deep understanding of what African-American’s daily lives are like when it comes to racism and all that it encompasses. I don’t, and as a white woman,  I can’t—but I am aware of it. And while I will never understand how people can feel that way about someone of a different race, I do want to understand how it impacts the lives of the people targeted by that hatred. I want to understand the anger, the fear, that they feel as a result of being treated in unacceptable—and often terrible—ways.

When They Call You a Terrorist is more than just the story of how Black Lives Matter began. It tells the story of Patrisse Khan-Cullors, sharing significant events that happened throughout her childhood—either to herself or a loved one—that shaped her into the community organizer and social activist she would become.  There are many things she shares about her life, but one part that left me feeling especially heartbroken and outraged was reading about how her mentally ill brother, Monte, was abused while in jail. I won’t go into the details in this review, but suffice to say it’s something I doubt I’ll ever be able to forget.

As I always do when reading a book for review, I wondered what words I would use to describe the book. All the way through, I kept coming back to three words:

Raw.

Emotional.

Powerful.

You can’t help but feel the undercurrents of anger and pain as you read this book. There are many passages where I had to take a moment, stop reading, and reflect on what I’d just read. I wanted to deeply consider the the events that were described. How might I have felt, if the police came to my door—without a warrant, without a reason—and made me stand in my yard, with multiple guns pointed at me and my loved ones, while they spent three or four hours searching my house? Afraid to so much as gesture with my hand as I spoke, for fear they might shoot me? How might I feel, if that happened to me, with a child present who was treated with the same cold disregard as I?

I would feel terrorized. I would feel that they didn’t think my life mattered.

The rallying cry of “Black Lives Matter” will not go down in history as words spoken by terrorists, but rather words spoken by a people who have been made to feel that their lives don’t matter at all—who had the courage to do something about it.

The year has barely begun, but I have a feeling When They Call You a Terrorist will be one of the most important books published in 2018.

If you read only one nonfiction book this year, I urge you to read this book, particularly if you don’t understand what the Black Lives Matter movement is all about. It will open your eyes to a lot of things that—like me—you probably didn’t know about.

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of St. Martin’s Press.

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Authors: Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele

Title: When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir

Genre: Memoir, Social Activism, Social Justice

Published: January 16th, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

book worth reading

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

About the Book

The emotional and powerful story of one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter and how the movement was born.

From one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement comes a poetic memoir and reflection on humanity. Necessary and timely, Patrisse Cullors’ story asks us to remember that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love. Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have been called terrorists, 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. In this meaningful, empowering account of survival, strength, and resilience, Patrisse Cullors and asha bandele seek to change the culture that declares innocent black life expendable.

About the Authors

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.

ASHA BANDELE is an award-winning author and journalist. A former features editor for Essence magazine, asha is the author of two collections of poems, the award-winning memoir The Prisoner’s Wife and its follow-up Something Like Beautiful, and the novel Daughter. She lives in Brooklyn with her daughter.

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Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson #Review

Just Mercy cover

Through the years, I’ve seen several news reports of imprisoned men and women being released after they were proven to be wrongly convicted of various crimes. I was left with two strong feelings: relief that their innocence had been proven, and angry that they had spent years (even decades, in some cases) of their lives behind bars when they shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I would only know the little that was reported about their wrongful convictions—usually that their conviction was overturned by DNA evidence or whatever—without knowing how they came to be tried and convicted in the first place. After reading this book, I’m certain that knowing those details would like have left me feeling horrified, as well.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption is a memoir about Bryan Stevenson’s work in the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization he founded in 1994.

The Equal Justice Initiative (or EJI) is a non-profit organization, based in Montgomery, Alabama, that provides legal representation to prisoners who may have been wrongly convicted of crimes, poor prisoners without effective representation, and others who may have been denied a fair trial. It guarantees the defense of anyone in Alabama in a death penalty case.

Source: Wikipedia

Several cases are discussed in the book, such as the case of an African-American man named Walter McMillian. Accused of murdering a white woman, Walter was held on death row PRIOR to being tried and convicted in a trial that lasted less than two days, despite having a solid alibi during the time of the murder—a fact ignored by the jury, who imposed a sentence of life in prison. The Alabama judge disagreed and sentenced Mr. McMillian to death instead. It took six long years of dedicated work for the EJI to prove McMillian’s innocence.

In another case, Marsha Colbey was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment after giving birth to a stillborn child. She spent 5 years in an Alabama prison before her conviction was overturned and she was released.

Several other cases are discussed in the book and, unfortunately, not all of them had successful outcomes.

After I finished reading this book, I couldn’t help but wonder how many more innocent men and women are in our prisons. However many there are, I can only hope they find someone like Mr. Stevenson who is willing to fight for them.

I highly recommend reading this one. It’s definitely a Book Worth Reading.

I received a review copy of this book courtesy of Spiegal & Grau via Blogging for Books.

atg

Author: Bryan Stevenson

Title: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Genre: Memoir, Social Justice, Nonfiction

Published: August 18th, 2015 by Spiegel & Grau

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

book worth reading

 About the Book

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time
 
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

New York Times Bestseller | Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Seattle Times • Esquire • Time

Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction | Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction | Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award | Finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize | Finalist for the Kirkus Reviews Prize | An American Library Association Notable Book

About the Author

Author Bryan Stevenson
Bryan Stevenson

BRYAN STEVENSON is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, and a professor of law at New York University School of Law. He has won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, argued five times before the Supreme Court, and won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color. He has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant.

#BlogTour It’s Messy by Amanda de Cadenet @amandadecadenet @Harper_Wave @TLCBookTours

It's Messy cover

Apparently, I’ve been living under a rock, because I’d never heard of Amanda de Cadenet until I read this book. (Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say I’ve been living with my nose permanently stuck in one book after another.)

I made a decision earlier this year to broaden my reading horizons and read books I wouldn’t ordinarily have read in the past. This is the sort of book that, in past years, I would have been curious about and maybe even skimmed over a few pages before putting it back on the shelf. As a general rule, I’m not one to read essay collections and I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where one of the main topics is feminism, either. This book hit the spot twice over on broadening my reading horizons, so obviously I had to read it.

And I’m glad I did.

I really enjoyed the conversational feel of the book. It flowed as if I were reading a series of letters, rather than a collection of essays. (If I hadn’t been reading two other books at the same time, I have no doubt that I could have read the entire book cover to cover in less than two days.) In the book, de Cadenet shares stories of her life—childhood, marriages, motherhood, and career—and as the title suggests, some of it is, indeed, messy. She also discusses lessons she’s learned along the way, about the importance of friendship, standing up for what you believe in, and being true to yourself. One of the things that resonated most with me is when she talks about not listening to the negative voice inside your head when it tells you you’re not “enough” in some way. (Ladies, you know the voice I’m talking about: The one that says you’re not thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough… whatever.) That voice is a vicious bitch and hits on every insecurity a women has about herself. In speaking about body acceptance, Amanda says:

It’s better to accept yourself and your body than to beat yourself up.

Those thirteen little words have a huge amount of truth in them, and it made me pause for a moment of reflection. How much time have I spent, every single day, feeling unhappy about the way I look? How many times have I let depression to wash over me in waves as I made endless lists of everything that wasn’t “good enough” about me? Wasted time, all of it. Even more so when I think about how little time, in comparison, I’ve spent feeling content about any of those things.

Some essays are more difficult to read than others, due to the subject matter, but they all have important messages to get across. This is definitely a book that makes you think.

Now that I’ve broadened my reading horizons… won’t you broaden yours, as well? 🙂

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Harper Wave.

atg

Author: Amanda de Cadenet

Title: It’s Messy

Genre: Memoir

Publication Date: September 19th, 2017 by Harper Wave

Hardcover – 224 pages

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


About the Book

In this deeply personal collection of essays, creator of the The Conversation Amanda de Cadenet shares the hard-won advice and practical insights she’s gained through her experiences as businesswoman, friend, wife, and mother.

Amanda is on a mission to facilitate conversations that allow all women to be seen, heard, and understood. Through her multimedia platform The Conversation, she interviews some of today’s most bad ass women—from Hillary Clinton to Lady Gaga—in no-holds-barred conversations that get to the heart of what means to be female. Now, in It’s Messy, Amanda offers readers an extension of that conversation, inviting them into her life and sharing her own story.

From childhood fame to a high-profile marriage (and divorce) to teen motherhood to the sexism that threatened to end her career before it started, Amanda shares the good, the bad, and the messy of her life, synthesizing lessons she’s learned along the way. Through it all, she offers an original perspective as a feminist on the front lines of celebrity culture. Edgy, irreverent, poignant and provocative, It’s Messy addresses the issues, concerns, and experiences relevant to women today.


About the Author

Amanda-de-Cadenet-AP
Author Amanda de Cadenet

Amanda de Cadenet is a creative force with a lifelong career in the media. She began as a host on British television at the age of fifteen and became a sought-after photographer shortly after—as a result her impressive photography career already spans nearly twenty years. She is the youngest woman ever to shoot a Vogue cover and has photographed many of the most influential figures in popular and political culture. As a media entrepreneur, Amanda is the creator of The Conversation, a series that showcases her in-depth interviews on real topics with celebrated women. Whether it’s in conversations with Lady Gaga, Sarah Silverman, Zoe Saldana, Chelsea Handler, or Gwyneth Paltrow, or in discussions with devoted followers of her social channels, Amanda delivers an honest and authentic voice. The series has aired in eighteen countries and is featured online, with over ten million viewers. In January 2016, Amanda conducted an exclusive one-on-one interview with presidential candidate Secretary Clinton. In February 2016, Amanda launched #Girlgaze, a digital media company utilizing user submitted content and highlighting the work of women Gen Z photographers and directors.

Find out more about Amanda at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


TLC Book Tours The Sky's The Limit

Tour Stops

Tuesday, August 22nd: A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, August 23rd: Lit and Life

Thursday, August 24th: A Bookish Way of Life

Monday, August 28th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, August 29th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, August 30th: Comfy Reading

Thursday, August 31st: Book Hooked Blog

👉 Friday, September 1st: The Geeky Bibliophile 👈

Tuesday, September 5th: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, September 6th: Wining Wife

Thursday, September 7th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Friday, September 8th: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Monday, September 11th: Literary Quicksand

TBD: Books & Tea