By Joanne Wright
Patrisse Khan-Cullors, author, artist, organizer, and Black Lives Matter co-founder, spoke at Seattle First Baptist Church on Wednesday, January 24. Third Place Books.
presented the event. Ms. Khan-Cullors appeared in conversation with C. Davida Ingram, an artist, curator, educator, and civic leader based in Seattle.
Ms. Khan-Cullors, with asha bandele, wrote When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir. The book is a beautiful, compelling memoir of the personal experiences of Khan-Cullors, which motivated the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The author began her discussion by urging the audience to listen to the voices of the marginalized to be moved by compassion into action. She read a book excerpt, an episode of her brother’s post-traumatic stress disorder due to incarceration and police brutality. The love, strength, and care of the men in her family for her brother during this crisis demonstrated the strength and resilience within her family and her community.
She described her own and her family’s experiences with state sponsored violence and the lack of advocacy to deal with racially motivated police brutality. Black Lives Matter was born after the racially motivated murder of Trayvon Martin, for which no one was held accountable.
I learned that Black Lives Matter is a movement born out of grief, love, community, humanity, strength, and resilience to transform the culture that treats black lives as unworthy and expendable. It is also a movement to strengthen and bind a community victimized by violence and racial profiling, as well as to hold other victimized communities across the globe in solidarity.
In contrast to the love and compassion that gave birth to this movement, the U.S. Government has condemned Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization and a threat to America. Ms. Khan-Cullors stated that this criminalizes and demonizes those that struggle for justice. She asked, what is “terror”? Police killings and traffic stops motivated by racial profiling are terrorism for the black community.
Ms. Khan-Cullors urged us, in cross-racial solidarity, to have conversations with rigor and debate, to sharpen analysis of issues of race and oppression, and to stay engaged for the long term. She also challenged the white people in the audience to ask ourselves what we are doing to benefit communities of color and reminded us of our accountability to this work.
I learned from conversation leader Ms. Ingram how to maintain boundaries to prevent my privilege, as a white woman, from interrupting space created for black people. Ms. Ingram reminded white people in the room to maintain humility, to lean into the stories, and to recognize the humanity of the black people in the room.
Lynn Gaertner-Johnston and I were moved by this event to hold a discussion of the book on Sunday, Feb. 25.
Joanne Wright and Lynn Gaertner-Johnston invite you to a book discussion of When They Call You a Terrorist:
A Black Lives Matter Memoir.
Sunday, Feb. 25, 12:30–2 p.m. in the SFBC Parlor
Please bring your lunch. Refreshments will be available at coffee hour.
The book is available at Third Place Books and other booksellers. If you would like to borrow one of two SFBC copies, contact Lynn or Joanne.
Some Black History Month Events:
There are several shows in Seattle featuring Black artists.
Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI)
Seattle on the Spot: The Photographs of Al Smith
Smith’s photography recorded Seattle’s vibrant Central District neighborhood and African American community for 65 years.
Through June 17, 2018
Seattle Repertory Theater
Two Trains Running by August Wilson
This play is celebrated playwright August Wilson’s portrait of a defining moment in American history.
Ends soon! Through February 11, 2018
Seattle Art Museum
Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas
This exhibit opens compelling perspectives on Black culture and representation in the changing social and political landscape.
Through May 13, 2018
African American Museum
This exhibit features contemporary portraits by photographers Jessica Rycheal and Zorn B. Taylor, showing the work of the artists as they explore intersections and identities that are held within blackness.
Through September 30, 2018
You're Not From Around Here, Are You?
This exhibit examines the complex, multifaceted experiences of Black people in the Pacific Northwest.
Through April 8, 2018
This blog includes thoughts from various contributors at Seattle First Baptist