This book was a very difficult but necessary read. It belongs in college curricula and book clubs. Your racist family members should read it but never will, though you can get a couple of fact bombs from the book to drop in the middle of an awkward Thanksgiving dinner. This memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors will give a deeper understanding of the often fraught nature of modern Black life in America and firsthand account of the #blacklivesmatter movement. One of the most significant activist groups of the 21st century so far.
Ms. Khan-Cullors grew up in Van Nuys, California as part of the “post Reagan, post social safety-net generation.” She describes a childhood marred by constant police surveillance. At nine years old she witnessed the police rolling up on her brothers and his friends as they merely hung out in an alleyway (because there were no parks or community centers where they could go), roughly patting them down roughly as they spewed profanity and racial slurs at them. She experienced culture shock after entering a mostly white private middle school, where she saw a world not constantly monitored by police and entrances not blocked by metal detectors. Her white counterparts took things like marijuana possession, which could cause a life-ruining entrance into the criminal justice system for kids like Patrisse, completely for granted. The sections that focus on her brother who suffers from Schizoaffective disorder (not diagnosed until adulthood) and his treatment by the criminal justice system are especially rage inducing.
This slim volume is by no means an easy read, but the writing is powerful and lyrical. She gives a compelling voice to those who have been continually overlooked by the country at large. It is every bit as important and necessary as books like The New Jim Crow, The Warmth of Other Suns and anything by James Baldwin.