When They Call You a Terrorist

by

Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele

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Alton Cullors Character Analysis

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 she was six years old and he was laid off from his job on the line at the GM auto plant. As an adult, Patrisse understands that his inconsistency is likely the result of never again being able to find a job that would allow him to provide for his family. Still, he and Patrisse care for each other, and when Alton learned that Cherice told Patrisse about Gabriel, he took Patrisse out for tacos and assured her that she was still his child.

Alton Cullors Quotes in When They Call You a Terrorist

The When They Call You a Terrorist quotes below are all either spoken by Alton Cullors or refer to Alton Cullors. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the St. Martin's Griffin edition of When They Call You a Terrorist published in 2020.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Alton got a series of low-wage jobs that had no insurance, no job security and no way to take care of us, his family, which is why I think, looking back now, he left, and while he visited and was always there, it was never the same again. In the 1980s, when all this was going down, unemployment among Black people, nearly triple that of white people’s, was worse in multiple regions of the United States, including where I lived, than it was during the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

Related Characters: Patrisse Khan-Cullors (speaker), Alton Cullors
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
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Alton Cullors Character Timeline in When They Call You a Terrorist

The timeline below shows where the character Alton Cullors appears in When They Call You a Terrorist. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Community, Interrupted
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
...Monte) and younger sister (Jasmine) are all tall, a trait they get from their father, Alton. Alton works at the General Motors plant nearby. Although he stops living with the family... (full context)
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
External Forces vs. Personal Responsibility Theme Icon
...16 hours a day between two or three working-class jobs. After the GM plant closes, Alton also works a series of low-wage jobs and is unable to provide for their family,... (full context)
Chapter 3: Bloodlines
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
Prisons and Policing Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
External Forces vs. Personal Responsibility Theme Icon
...to poverty, policing, and Blackness. At the end of sixth grade, Cherice tells her that Alton is not her biological father. He is her siblings’ father, but while they were temporarily... (full context)
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
External Forces vs. Personal Responsibility Theme Icon
...Gabriel a month later, she and Cherice do not talk about him. In that time, Alton comes to visit—as he has for six years since leaving—and adult Patrisse reflects that she... (full context)
Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
They get tacos at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant nearby and, as they eat, Alton starts crying. He asks Patrisse if he is still her father, and she says yes,... (full context)
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
External Forces vs. Personal Responsibility Theme Icon
...power in public accountability. This is possibly the first time she’s heard an adult apologize. Alton never apologized for leaving, and GM never apologized for closing the plant with no support... (full context)
Intersectionality of Identity Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
...every Friday to see their sports-loving extended family at Vina’s house. Patrisse sometimes worries what Alton and her siblings think of her being with her new family, but she also starts... (full context)
Chapter 4: Magnitude and Bond
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
Prisons and Policing Theme Icon
Intersectionality of Identity Theme Icon
...in the criminal justice system only because he wasn’t allowed to be a kid; after Alton left, he took over all of the house responsibilities and couldn’t participate in normal teenage... (full context)
Chapter 8: Zero Dark Thirty
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
Prisons and Policing Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
...with him. He makes her uncomfortable and charges $10,000, but they don’t have another choice. Alton has money but doesn’t share it, and Paul and Jasmine keep distance from the case... (full context)
Prisons and Policing Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
...Monte made up of their chosen family. When he is released in October of 2011, Alton, Paul, and Patrisse drive three hours to pick him up. Patrisse notices all of the... (full context)
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
Intersectionality of Identity Theme Icon
...depressed, and Cherice can’t support him since she’s also supporting Chase and Bernard. Jasmine and Alton now live in Las Vegas and convince Cherice to bring Monte and join them—housing is... (full context)
Chapter 9: No Ordinary Love
Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
External Forces vs. Personal Responsibility Theme Icon
...forces (job loss and the war on drugs) rather than personal failings led to both Alton and Gabriel’s struggles. (full context)