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Library Journal Review
As the Black Lives Matter movement marks its five-year anniversary, community organizer Khan-Cullors and Bandele (The Prisoner's Wife) tell the story of how it all began. Khan-Cullors cofounded the movement with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi in 2013. The memoir isn't a manifesto for the movement but instead a heartfelt narrative about Khan-Cullors's experiences with police, prisons, poverty, and the lack of community resources that marginalize black (and brown) people. The memoir brings to life the terror black people face, but it also highlights the spirit of today's civil rights leaders. Black Lives Matter may have been born at a time of anger, but it's a movement rooted in love. That's the undercurrent flowing through Khan-Cullors's stories: her mother working day and night to provide for her family, her father showing that her black life mattered, her friends supporting her through life's challenges, her father's unexpected death, and her brother's struggles with his mental illness. Khan-Cullors narrates, the sincerity in her voice drawing listeners in so they see through her eyes and hear through her own words what it's like to grow up black and poor in America. Listeners gain an intimate understanding of who she is and what inspired her role in the movement. VERDICT A relevant memoir in today's times; recommended for all library collections. ["Khan-Cullors's prose is dynamic; a rhythmic call to action that deftly illustrates the impact of living in a place that systematically demeans black person-hood through neglect and aggressively racist state policy.... [A] searing, timely look into a contemporary movement from one of its crucial leading voices": LJ 12/17 starred review of the St. Martin's hc.]-Gladys Alcedo, -Wallingford, CT © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Black Lives Matter cofounder Kahn-Cullors brings an earnest and heartfelt tone, if not always a consistent delivery style, to the audio production of her memoir. Over the course of the book she describes how her early experiences growing up in public housing in Los Angeles led to her political activism. She reads in a conversational manner that in no way belies the emotional weight of the hardships her family endured. The most memorable portions of the narrative are about her mentally ill older brother Monte, who was in and out of prison for years. Kahn-Cullors provides a more wistful tone in describing her immediate and extended families and their devotion to work and self-improvement in the midst of worsening economic and social conditions. In the second half of the book, the narrative addresses the motivations for and tactics of the Black Lives Matter movement. Kahn-Cullors's pacing here is choppy and harder to follow. Still, the audiobook is well worth it for the first half in which listeners are privy to hearing Kahn-Cullors's personal experiences as a black person in America read in her own voice. A St. Martin's hardcover. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Khan-Cullors, one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, was raised in a family and community impacted by poverty. Her parents worked multiple jobs, and the family struggled with job, housing, and food insecurity. At age nine, she saw the police beat and arrest her brother Monte. Although Monte has schizoaffective disorder, he was placed in solitary confinement without access to necessary medication. This interaction, as well as her time at a predominantly white school, forced Khan-Cullors to see the different ways blacks and whites experience the world. She contrasts Monte's story with the police's treatment of white mentally ill inmates who receive better treatment. The brutality her brother endured, along with the acquittal of George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin's killer, made her realize that the fight for change needed to begin within her own community. This insightful firsthand account of the creation of BLM deftly exposes the injustices of the United States' social structures and calls for an end to a judicial system that leaves black men and women unprotected and their families broken. VERDICT An excellent look at the history of this movement, especially for those who appreciated the social commentary of Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me.-Desiree Thomas, Worthington Library, OH © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Khan-Cullors, a self-described artist, organizer, freedom fighter as well as a Fulbright scholar and recipient of the Sidney Peace Prize, recounts, with coauthor bandele, her personal experiences and those as a founder of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Khan-Cullors delineates the harsh realities she faced growing up in Los Angeles in the late 1990s and early 2000s, from her mother working three jobs and still not able to earn a living wage to the grievous harm the war on drugs did to so many young black men, including her relatives and friends. She focuses on her fight to support one of her brothers, who showed signs of mental illness and received no professional help until after he endured multiple school suspensions, criminal arrests, and police torture. Khan-Cullors credits her success to the education she received in charter arts schools and with community activist groups. She then chronicles how she, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tomrti use social media, the arts, and civil activism to respond to the killings of two young black men, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, and how that led to the founding of Black Lives Matter. With great candor about her complex personal life, Khan-Cullors has created a memoir as compelling as a page-turning novel. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This topical and unique look inside the Black Lives Matter movement will be supported by a major marketing effort and a 250,000 first print run.--Jackson-Brown, Grace Copyright 2017 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
A founder of Black Lives Matter chronicles growing up sensitive and black in a country militarized against her community.With assistance from Bandele (Something Like Beautiful: One Single Mother's Story, 2009, etc.), Khan-Cullors synthesizes memoir and polemic to discuss oppressive policing and mass imprisonment, the hypocrisy of the drug war, and other aspects of white privilege, portraying the social network-based activism of BLM and like-minded groups as the only rational response to American-style apartheid. She argues repeatedly and powerfully that mechanisms have evolved to ensnare working-class people of color from childhood, while white Americans are afforded leniency in their youthful trespasses. She learned of such hidden codes early, and she documents her hardscrabble but vibrant upbringing in segregated, suburban Los Angeles during the 1980s. The drug war's resurgence, and a newly punitive attitude toward the poor, cast a shadow over the lives of her endlessly working mother and her male relatives: "[My brother] and his friendsreally all of uswere out there trying to stay safe against the onslaught of adults who, Vietnam-like, saw the enemy as anyone Black or Brown." Her perspective was amplified by attending segregated, gifted schools in adjoining white suburbs, where she explored the arts and acknowledged her queer sexuality while developing a passion for social organizing. Later, her outrage over the unpunished killings of Trayvon Martin and others led her and two friends to brainstorm a new, viral social justice movement: "We know we want whatever we create to have global reach." The author's passion is undeniable and infectious, but the many summary-based passages sometimes feel repetitive, and the concrete narrative of BLM's expanding activism is underdeveloped. Since she emphasizes her organizational focus as prioritizing the role of women of color and LBGT or gender-nonconforming individuals, the audience for this socially relevant jeremiad may be limited.Not without flaws but an important account of coming of age (and rage) within today's explosive racial dynamic. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.