When They Call You a Terrorist


Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele

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When They Call You a Terrorist Characters

Patrisse Khan-Cullors

Patrisse is—along with Alicia and Opal—one the founders of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. She is a self-identified queer Black woman who grew up in Van Nuys, California, during the 1990s, the height… read analysis of Patrisse Khan-Cullors

Monte Cullors

Monte is Patrisse’s older brother, the son of Cherice and Alton. He is a gentle and loving man who loves animals and started struggling with schizoaffective disorder as a teenager, experiencing destructive manic… read analysis of Monte Cullors

Gabriel Brignac

Gabriel was Patrisse’s father, a loving Black man who was in and out of prison for selling drugs before dying from a heart attack. Patrisse didn’t learn that Gabriel was her biological father until… read analysis of Gabriel Brignac

Mark Anthony

Mark Anthony is Patrisse’s friend whom she ended up marrying. They met when Patrisse is a senior at Cleveland High School and Mark Anthony was a junior. Though Patrisse had never before been attracted… read analysis of Mark Anthony


Cherice is Patrisse’s mother. Cherice’s middle-class Jehovah’s Witness family disowned her when she revealed she was pregnant with Paul at 16 years old. Despite this, she didn’t give up on the Jehovah’s Witness tradition… read analysis of Cherice
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Future is a genderqueer Black Lives Matter Toronto leader. After Patrisse stopped seeing JT, Future became Patrisse’s romantic partner. Given their geographic distance, Future and Patrisse developed a deep friendship virtually for a year… read analysis of Future


JT is a Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles organizer and Patrisse’s long-time friend. After Patrisse’s divorce with Mark Anthony, he became her romantic partner and the father of their child, Shine. JT… read analysis of JT

Alicia Garza

Alicia, along with Patrisse and Opal, is one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Patrisse met Alicia at a political gathering in Rhode Island, where they danced together all night… read analysis of Alicia Garza


Carla is a friend Patrisse made during her sophomore year at Cleveland High School. She was loud, energetic, and queer, and Patrisse was immediately drawn to her. They ended up developing a deep friendship that… read analysis of Carla

Donna Hill

Donna Hill was Patrisse and Carla’s art history teacher at Cleveland High School. She let Patrisse and Carla move in with her after graduation to give them more stable lives after over a year… read analysis of Donna Hill


Naomi is Patrisse’s cousin who attended Cleveland High School at the same time as Patrisse and came out as queer before Patrisse did. Naomi was a beautiful and charismatic track star, well-loved by all… read analysis of Naomi

Alton Cullors

Alton is the man Patrisse believed to be her father until Cherice told her at 12 years old that Gabriel was her biological father. Alton had not been a consistent presence in Patrisse’s life since… read analysis of Alton Cullors


Vina is Gabriel’s mother and Patrisse’s grandmother. The first time she and Patrisse met at Gabriel’s graduation ceremony from a sobriety program, she hugged Patrisse and welcomed her into the family. Vina is… read analysis of Vina


Paul is Patrisse’s oldest brother. After Alton left their family when Patrisse was six years old, Paul stepped in as the man of the house. When a friend asked Patrisse why Paul didn’t end… read analysis of Paul


Jasmine is Patrisse’s younger sister. After Patrisse moved out of their family’s one-bedroom apartment when she was a junior in high school, she did not interact much with Jasmine. Jasmine became overwhelmed when Monteread analysis of Jasmine


Cheyenne was Patrisse’s first girlfriend. She was a basketball player from an unstable home who ultimately dropped out of school because she didn’t have money to pay for the bus to get there. They… read analysis of Cheyenne


Richie was one of Patrisse’s students when she ran a restorative justice program at Cleveland (her former high school) for young Black men who had repeatedly gotten into trouble. The group met to discuss… read analysis of Richie

Opal Tometi

In addition to Patrisse and Alicia, Opal is one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. She runs the Black Alliance for Just Immigration in New York and is also skilled… read analysis of Opal Tometi

Trayvon Martin’s Killer

Trayvon Martin’s killer is George Zimmerman, the white-presenting Latinx man who shot and killed17-year-old Trayvon while Trayvon was walking home to his gated community in Florida. Patrisse does not mention George Zimmerman by name… read analysis of Trayvon Martin’s Killer

Darnell Moore

Darnell is an activist and professor who helped Patrisse, Alicia, and Opal plan the Freedom Ride to Ferguson in the wake of Michael Brown’s death. As part of a discussion on patriarchy… read analysis of Darnell Moore

asha bandele

asha is the co-author of When They Call You a Terrorist and a writer for Essence magazine. After the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement gained momentum, she was one of the few journalists who wanted… read analysis of asha bandele


Cynthia was Patrisse’s neighbor when she was growing up and also Monte’s on-again, off-again partner. A low-income Black woman who was shot in a drive-by shooting while at a party and paralyzed from… read analysis of Cynthia


Chase is Cynthia and Monte’s son and Patrisse’s nephew. He was primarily raised by Cherice when Monte was in prison. When Monte returned from prison after six years, Chase greeted him halfheartedly, and… read analysis of Chase

Michael (Mike) Brown

Michael Brown was the 18-year-old Black man killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014. Michael was shot several times for an unknown reason while standing in the street and then… read analysis of Michael (Mike) Brown

Sandra Bland

Sandra was a 28-year-old Black woman who was found hanging in a jail cell in Texas in July 2015 after being pulled over and arrested for a routine traffic stop. While local officials ruled her… read analysis of Sandra Bland

Donald Trump

Donald Trump was elected president of the U.S. in 2016, when Patrisse was still in the early years of establishing the Black Lives Matter network. His election terrified and angered Patrisse because she believed that… read analysis of Donald Trump


Shine, Patrisse and JT’s son, was born in March 2016. Patrisse and JT split up before Shine was born, so Patrisse and Future cared for him together during the first few months of his… read analysis of Shine
Minor Characters
Darren Wilson
Darren Wilson is the white Ferguson police officer who killed Michael Brown in August 2014, sparking the start of massive protests. Patrisse joined the uprising and called for Darren Wilson to be charged and indicted, though he never was.
Peter Corn
Peter Corn is the lawyer Patrisse and Cherice hired to take on Monte’s case when he was threatened with life in prison. Though Peter initially made Patrisse uncomfortable, he was successful in decreasing Monte’s sentence to only six years.
Bernard is Cherice’s husband whom she started to date when Patrisse was in high school. Patrisse is not particularly close to Bernard, but he was close with Monte when Monte returned from prison. When Cherice was evicted, she moved with Bernard, Patrisse, and Jasmine into Bernard’s mother’s one-bedroom apartment.