Fighting Terror and Being Labeled a Terrorist: A Review of a How Black Lives Matter Memoir

when they call you a terrorist

This searing, critically important book has just been released as a paperback.


The news came on July 13, 2013. A young woman named Patrisse was outraged. The man who killed an unarmed 17-year-old African American boy in Miami Gardens, Florida, was exonerated in the name of self-defense. “In what f*** world does this make sense?” she cried out. And having grown up with and known other young black men, she cried. “We learn that the man believed he had to do what he did. A right to stand ground that wasn’t being challenged by a boy carrying iced tea and Skittles. He believed that his assumed rights superseded this child’s right to walk home to his own house to bring his little brother a treat.” And the jury agreed. Yet, what happened did not even make the news. Patrisse’s friend Alicia wrote these words in a Facebook post: “btw stop saying that we are not surprised, that’s a damn shame in itself. I continue to be surprised how little Black lives matter. And I will continue that … stop giving up on black life, black people. I will NEVER give up on us. NEVER. Patrice responded with a hashtag: #BlackLivesMatter.


It did not take long for this movement to demand accountability from authorities who accept the systemic racism of police action against people of color, and the institutions of society that built and maintain that system. “Most middle-class whites have no idea what it feels like to be subjected to police who are routinely suspicious, rude, belligerent, and brutal,” said Dr. Benjamin Spock, who Patrisse quotes. And it is critical to continue re-reading Dr. Martin Luther King’s criticism of white moderates in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. But things were to get much worse. Public discourse took a decidedly ugly turn when Bill O’Reilly of Fox News famously labeled Black Lives Matter a terrorist group. (Since then, that a charge that has since been echoed by others in the news.) Patrisse’s book addresses that spurious and racially charged label head on. She provides vivid examples from both her life growing up in a racially segregated neighborhood in California and articles in the news, especially the shootings of Michael Brown and other young black men. Especially searing is the life and fate of Monte, an elder sibling with a mental illness in a bleak jail, before Michelle Alexander publicized mass imprisonment in The New Jim Crow, and Bryan Stevenson in Just Mercy


The work of Black Lives Matter continues. In the wake of the increased terrorism of White Supremacy, it must. Patrisse’s voice is one that must continue to be heard, and heeded.


Haben Girma Deafblind Memoir

With humor and a very positive outlook, Haben Girma tells how she became a disability advocate and self-advocate. Her fight for disability rights and accessibility benefits not just those who are disabled, but everyone.


Haben Girma has been in the news a great deal. And with good reason. A notable piece recently appeared in The Guardian. She was also featured in a BBC interview. Last year, she published a remarkable memoir, Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law. With her thoughtful memoir, Haben invites anyone who will “listen” into her life. Throughout her memoir, Haben’s positive outlook shines. “At some point in my childhood, I discovered the goodwill of bringing laughter into people’s lives,” says Haben. “Humor draws people in, paving the way for meaningful connections.”


It was my pleasure to write a review for the Advancing Opportunities website blog, where my full review appears.


Girma, Haben. Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law. New York: Twelve, 2019.
277 pages
ISBN: 978-1-5387-2872-7 (hardcover), 978-1-5387-2871-0 (ebook)

Join the Interfaith Unity Vigil, Morris Area, New Jersey



On Sunday, January 12, 2020, there will be an interfaith vigil at Temple Adath Shalom,
841 Mountain Way, Morris Plains, NJ 07950. The event was organized by the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, an organization creating a bond between members of the Muslim and Jewish faiths. They seek “to build bridges and fight hate, negative stereotyping and prejudice.”


Members of both faiths, and others, will gather to affirm one other in a show of strength and courage.


“Join us as we reflect on our traditions and teachings and create a welcoming space for all. The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom Unity Vigil is an opportunity to affirm the harmony that we experience when we celebrate the dignity and diversity we see in one another. This vigil will be a call for prayer and readings to offer courage and hope to one another.”


For more information, please contact Rabbi Debra Smith of Or Ha Lev, Jewish Renewal Congregation, at 908-303-8374



Grounded Planes Take Flight in Congo

Fantasy Planes in Congo


In this remarkable Telegraph photo essay, children in a bleak landscape have little but to play in, around, and on a series of abandoned jetliners. Evidently, these airplanes provide a flight of fancy, a respite, however fleeting. Many of these photos were in an earlier Daily Mail piece.


Toy and model airplanes have been part of my youthful fantasy. In fact, planes like the DC-8 shown, were those Space Age miracles that I flew on. Still in touch with my childhood self, these planes still evoke emotion.


In this portrayal, however, innocence has but all been lost.


Rethinking Stimming in Autism

Spectrum Article on Stimming - Screen Shot

Rethinking repetitive behaviors in autism. Once seen as not socially appropriate behavior, stimming is gaining acceptance. Awareness of the benefits these actions offer autistic individuals in their quest to participate fully in society is increasing. “It’s important [for researchers] to recognize that it’s the way autistic people move through our world and engage with it,” says Raya, one of the subjects of this article. “It’s part of the way we learn and process information, and it’s a way we express our feelings and communicate.”

To read the full article and download a copy, click here.