This memoir depicts Patrisse Khan-Cullors life growing up in a poor neighborhood in Los Angeles, where her family and community were under constant surveillance and harassment from the police. Her father was in and out of prison and her mentally ill brother was also imprisoned and tortured by the police. As Cullors grows older she also deals with her disillusionment with her mother’s church, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and grows to understand her queer identity. She became an artist and an activist in her teenage years, advocating for reform and abolition of prisons. In 2013, responding to her friend Alicia Garza’s post about Treyvon Martin, she created the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and has been active in shepherding the movement. This memoir is both harrowing and hopeful in depicting the lives of people of color and LBGT people in America that is under assault, but also the positive gains that come when people stand up for their rights, equality, and dignity. This is definitely required reading for all Americans in 2018.
“I cannot help think that the drug war, the war on gangs, has really been no more than a forced migration project. From my neighborhood in LA to the Back Bay to Brooklyn, Black and Brown people have been moved out as young white people build exciting new lives standing on the bones of ours. The drug war as ethnic cleansing.”
Recommended books: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates