While we’re unable to meet in the theater, we’re taking our book club online. Join us on Friday, July 10 from 5-6pm on Zoom. We’ll be reading and discussing one of the texts from the NYU Office of Global Inclusion and Diversity’s Anti-Black Racism Education Resource ListRSVP here to receive the Zoom link.


A poetic memoir and reflection on humanity. Necessary and timely, Patrisse’s 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.


Patrisse Khan-Cullors is an artist, organizer, and freedom fighter from Los Angeles, CA. Cofounder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network and Founder of the Los Angeles-based grassroots organization Dignity and Power Now, she is also a performance artist, Fulbright scholar, popular public speaker, and a Sydney Peace Prize recipient. For 20 years, Patrisse has been on the frontlines of criminal justice reform and is currently leading Reform L.A. Jails, a ballot initiative that will be voted on in March 2020. Patrisse is currently the Faculty Director of Arizona’s Prescott College new Social and Environmental Arts Practice MFA program, which she developed nesting a curriculum focused on the intersection of art, social justice and community organizing that is first of its kind in the nation.

asha bandele is the award-winning author of The Prisoner’s Wife and several other works. Honored for her work in journalism and activism, asha is a mother, aformer senior editor at Essence and asenior director at the Drug Policy Alliance.

Talking Points

If you’re not sure where to start a conversation in a breakout room during Book Club, find an example in the text related to one of these themes. Or, pick a passage that stood out to you and share it with the group.

  • The entrenched connections between history and lived experience
  • The importance of chosen family and biological family, intentional community, intimacy, and networks of care
  • Spirituality
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Personal responsibility vs. collective responsibility
  • “We are a generation called to action” (210) in relation to “We are a generation that has been written off” (248)
  • Black Lives Matter guiding principles (p. 202-203)
  • “Are we pushing ourselves in each conversation we have to really imagine the world we want to live in, rather than beginning with the compromise position?” (251)

Get Into It

TED Women 2016

An interview with the Founders of Black Lives Matter

Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi in conversation with Mia Birdsong

The New York Times

Review: When They Call You A Terrorist

There’s a persistent longing that threads through this book — not so much for the consumerist dream represented by Sherman Oaks, but for the secure relationships she saw her wealthy, white classmates taking for granted.

Close Reading

Surviving vs Thriving

I was not expected or encouraged to survive. My brothers and little sister, my family—the one I was born into and the one I created—were not expected to survive. We lived a precarious life on the tightrope of poverty bordered at each end with the politics of personal responsibility that Black pastors and then the first Black president preached—they preached that more than they preached a commitment to collective responsibility. (5)

The first time I am arrested, I am twelve years old. … It started the year I turned twelve. That was the year that I learned that being Black and poor defined me more than being bright and hopeful and ready. I had been so ready to learn. So willing. … Twelve, and out of time. (18, 27-28)

We rent a car and drive to Ferguson, which is like driving into an occupied zone. Law enforcement from multiple municipalities is there. The National Guard is there. There are tanks on street corners. Even Los Angeles with its constant cop drive-bys and helicopters does not prepare me for this. My God, I think. All the money put in to suppress a community. We’d need far less to ensure it thrived. (213)



My father. Gabriel Brignac who loved me deeply and fiercely. Who spent every moment with me telling me how my Black life mattered. This was my father, the bones and the blood and the soul of him. This was Gabriel Brignac and I hold that flag that had covered his casket, this man who died of a broken heart in this nation of broken promises, and I think that if my father could not be possible in this America, then how is it that such a thing as America can ever be possible? (108)

Has my mother ever been allowed to lose herself in the laughter of her children, the silly baby games, the simple adolescent struggles—do your homework, do your chores? I do not remember ever going to a movie with my mother, window shopping. I do not remember us together as relaxed, as humans being. We have always had to be humans doing. (124)

For a long time and for all the structural analysis I was learning about race and the world, at the end of the day, I was still just a teenager with a heart left broken. (145)

Soon after the day that my brothers were set upon in the alley by cops, a new cycle begins: they start getting arrested on a regular basis, and it happened so often that my mother is eventually forced to move us to another part of Van Nuys. But there is nowhere that they can be or feel safe. No place where there are jobs. No city, no block, where what they know, all they know, is that their lives matter, that they are loved. We try to make a world and tell them they are important and tell ourselves we are too. But real life can be an insistent and merciless intruder. (16)



We are a generation called to action. (210)

Ida B. Wells … the Deacons of Defense … the Black Panthers … We were and are their progeny, called to pick up a torch no generation wants to or can ignore. Police, the literal progeny of slave catchers, meant harm to our community, and the race of class of any one officer, nor the good heart of an officer, could change that. No isolated acts of decency could wholly change an organization that became an institution that was created not to protect but to catch, control, and kill us. (185-186)

[On the Freedom Ride to Ferguson] There’s  a van organized by Black Transwomen who live in Ohio. … Later, they will tell us we did little to ensure their visibility, to life up the fact that our work is being advanced by an extraordinary number of Transwomen and men. The most criminalized people on the planet are Black Transwomen who cannot pass. We resolve, as a movement, to ensure that that never happens again. … Black Lives Matter is pushed to follow the leadership of Black Transwomen. Sometimes we fail and sometimes we succeed. After Ferguson, we affirm that we must always have an evolving political framework, that Black people are evolving so our work—and each of us—must be evolving too. (215-216)

We are a forgotten generation. Worse, we are a generation that has been written off. We’ve been written off by the drug war. We’ve been written off by the war on gangs. We’ve been written off by mass incarceration and criminalization. We’ve been written off by broken public schools and we’ve been written off by gentrification that keeps us out of the very neighborhoods we’ve helped build. We actually don’t give a fuck about shiny, polished candidates. We care about justice. We care about bold leaders and actions. We care about human rights and common decency. (248-249)


“What We Deserve”

Are we pushing ourselves in each conversation we have to really imagine the world we want to live in, rather than beginning with the compromise position? (251)

In my home, we, mostly women, talk about what we deserve. We say we deserve another knowing, the knowing that comes when you assume your life will be long, will be vibrant, will be healthy. We deserve to imagine a world without prisons and punishment, a world where they are not needed, a world rooted in mutuality. We deserve to at least aim for that. We agree that there is something that happens inside of a person, a people, a community when you think you will not live, that the people around you will not live. We talk about how you develop an attitude, one that dismisses hope, that discards dreams. (199)

We deserve to be our own gardeners and deserve to have gardeners. Mentors and teachers who bring the sunlight, the rain, the whispered voices above the seedling that say, Grow, baby, grow. We deserve love. Thick, full-bodied and healthy. Love. … In this place and in this time, when hate and the harshest version of living dominate, when even the worst assaults are blamed on the victims, when bullying has become ever present, limitless, we have come to say that we can be more than the worst of the hate. We say that this is what we mean when we say Black Lives Matter. (200-201)

We know that if we can get the nation to see, say and understand that Black Lives Matter, then every life would stand a chance. Black people are the only humans in this nation ever legally designation, after all, as not human. Which is not to erase any group’s harm or ongoing pain, in particular the genocide carried out against First Nation peoples. But it is to say that there is something quite basic that has to be addressed in the culture, in the hearts and minds of people who have benefitted from, and were raised up on, the notion that Black people are not fully human. (205)

Women, all women, Transwomen, are roughly 80 perfect of the people who are standing down the face of terror in Ferguson, saying We are the caretakers of this community. It is women who are out there, often with their children, calling for an end to police violence, saying We have a right to raise our children without fear. But it’s not women’s courage that is showcased in the media. One sister says, when the police move in, we do not run. We stay. And for this, we deserve recognition. (218-219)

The first time there is coverage of Black Lives Matter in a way that is positive it is on Melissa Harris-Perry’s show. She does not invite us. It isn’t intentional, I’m certain of that, and about a year later, she does. But in this early moment, and despite the overwhelming knowledge of people on the ground who are talking about what Alicia, Opal and I have done—and despite it being part of the historical record that it is always women who do the work, even as men get the praise—it takes a long time for us to occur to most reporters in the mainstream. Living in patriarchy means that the default inclination is to center men and their voices, not women and their work. … Opal, Alicia and I never wanted or needed to be the center of anything. We were purposeful about decentralizing our role in the work. But neither did we want nor deserve to be erased. I could tell you it was painful to watch the story of Black Lives Matter told without us, but the truth is that it was enraging. (219-220)