BLM co-founder talks terrorism in an anti-Black world

BLM co-founder talks terrorism in an anti-Black world

Alessandra Roggero


Patrisse Khan-Cullors’ face has been plastered all over the College’s walls in the past two weeks, and that’s because she’s coming to Whittier on May 3, to lead a talk in the Ruth B. Shannon Center. The Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) will be hosting Khan-Cullors, one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. The movement started both a national and an international dialogue on state violence against people of color. 

An artist and organizer herself, on top of being the topic of many conversations and much pushback since the group’s birth in 2013, Khan-Cullors is expected to speak about her latest book,  When They Call You a Terrorist: a Black Lives Matter Memoir. She co-wrote the book with award-winning author and journalist Asha Bandele. 

The event is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and will include a book signing after the lecture and Q&A session. Many students are looking forward to it, including third-year Whittier Scholars Program Sustainable Development and Social Responsibility major Mikaela Malsy. “I remember the fallout that occured when Black Lives Matter first started to emerge as a very dominant social movement, and I remember them being represented in the news as terrorists, blocking freeways, and the outrage that was associated with them.” 

Malsy, like many students on campus, wants to get a better understanding of Khan-Cullors’ perspective. “I’ll be honest,” Malsy said, “I don’t know enough about [the movement]. I really want to know more about the organization, rather than just hearing others call them terrorist. There’s two sides to everything, and often, the media twists around the intentions of a social movement like this.”

The term “terrorist” holds enough weight as it is to those who are classified blatantly as such. However, it holds more implications than one might assume or catch from their local 9 p.m. news station. In recent post-colonial literature and post-9/11 theory, specifically,  the word “terrorist” is discussed as holding a similar meaning to racial slurs, as it becomes more and more racialized with its everyday use in mainstream media. 

In celebration of her new book, and of the lecture itself, Khan-Cullors will be offering the first 70 attendees of the lecture a free copy of When They Call You a Terrorist. Students are encouraged to bring questions for the Q&A session that will follow, and of course, an open and critical mind.