Book Review – When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele

Rating: 4star

Originally posted on Goodreads:

When They Call You a Terrorist takes readers into the mind of someone who was really “in it” in terms of what is considered modern oppression in America. Patrisse Khan-Cullors grew up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in L.A. during the advent of the War on Drugs. She’s witnessed firsthand the government-led and police-enforced oppression that shapes the lives of so many Black Americans today. This book serves as a testament to the brutal reality that the Black Lives Matter movement has been fighting against.

Alongside describing her personal experiences, Khan-Cullors is also an intellectual with a great sense of how social systems work, so her book contains important information about American society as well. The last half of When They Call You a Terrorist is filled with useful terms and descriptions of concepts like the prison-industrial complex, mental health, and police accountability. It also, of course, explains how the Black Lives Matter movement was founded.

Although there are segments of the book that bounce around in chronology (causing minor confusion in some areas), When They Call You a Terrorist is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand why the Black Lives Matter movement is so important.

Book Review – Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Rating4star

Originally posted on Goodreads:

Kindred tells the fictional story of an African-American woman named Dana — living in Los Angeles in 1979 — who one day finds herself suddenly transported into antebellum Maryland… where slavery is still a thing. Continually oscillating between present and past, Dana realizes that there’s a purpose to her visits, and it involves her own ancestral bloodline.

Author Octavia E. Butler combines sci-fi and historical fiction to bring slavery into a modern context. The time travel trope allows readers to experience the perceived backwardness of American society during slavery, while at the same time explore the nuanced reality of being a Black person during this time. Particularly interesting was how some of the slaves perceived Dana, who represents just how much society has (and has not) progressed post-Civil Rights era.

For better or for worse, the sci-fi element is not too strong, making it accessible and easily digestible. This is great for those looking for a good, non-convoluted story, but maybe not so great for those used to Octavia E. Butler’s more far-reaching books.

All in all, Kindred was fast-paced, engaging, and featured well-defined characters. It’s a great intro to Octavia E. Butlers writing style, and also works as a classic slave narrative with a modern twist; great for those seeking knowledge and perspective on the horrors of antebellum society.