When They Call You a Terrorist

by

Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele

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Cherice Character Analysis

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, attending church every week and working to be accepted back into the community (which she achieved when Patrisse was in high school). After Alton left the family, Cherice worked 16-hour days at low-paying jobs in order to provide for her four children. She was not an affectionate mother, which Patrisse sees as resulting from the fatigue of single motherhood; she was just trying to make sure her family survived. Still, there were moments when she let her emotions out, such as when Monte was brought strapped to a gurney to his hearing in the midst of a full-on manic episode and shouted out for her before they rolled him out. Patrisse saw Cherice’s tears and shame as evidence that she felt responsible for Monte’s mental illness and current predicament, but Patrisse believed that oppressive social structures were really to blame. Cherice and Patrisse together raised the funds to pay for Monte’s legal fees when the rest of the family stepped away. Cherice also attended some of the organizing events that Patrisse helped to plan when she was involved with Strategy Center, which led to Patrisse feeling closer to her. After Monte was released from prison the second time and struggling to stay mentally stable or find work, Cherice moved herself and Monte to Las Vegas, where the cost of living was lower.

Cherice Quotes in When They Call You a Terrorist

The When They Call You a Terrorist quotes below are all either spoken by Cherice or refer to Cherice. 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 8 Quotes

Is this my mother who is gripped, albeit wrongly, with guilt? Is she in this moment wondering what she did or did not do to ensure her baby, her Monte, be kept safe from the nightmare he's been cast into? Is my mother the fallout, the collateral damage in the battle to elevate personal responsibility over everything, over all those decisions that were made about state budget priorities, about wages, about the presence of police, and even about damn grocery stores and access to quality food?

Related Characters: Patrisse Khan-Cullors (speaker), Cherice, Monte Cullors
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:
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Cherice Character Timeline in When They Call You a Terrorist

The timeline below shows where the character Cherice appears in When They Call You a Terrorist. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction: We Are Stardust
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
External Forces vs. Personal Responsibility Theme Icon
...of stardust. Patrisse believes deGrasse Tyson because she has seen this magic in her mother, Cherice, who was disowned by her family for having children too young and worked 16 hours... (full context)
Chapter 1: Community, Interrupted
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Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
Patrisse is raised by her mother, Cherice, in a broken-down Section 8 apartment in Van Nuys, California, just outside Los Angeles. Patrisse... (full context)
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
External Forces vs. Personal Responsibility Theme Icon
Cherice works 16 hours a day between two or three working-class jobs. After the GM plant... (full context)
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Prisons and Policing Theme Icon
External Forces vs. Personal Responsibility Theme Icon
Monte and Paul get arrested so often that Cherice moves the family to a different part of Van Nuys, but there is no place... (full context)
Chapter 2: Twelve
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Prisons and Policing Theme Icon
External Forces vs. Personal Responsibility Theme Icon
...tell her what happened. Patrisse lies, and her mother takes her side.  Later, at home, Cherice does not ask her about it, tell her she loves her, or get angry. Patrisse... (full context)
Chapter 3: Bloodlines
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Prisons and Policing Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
External Forces vs. Personal Responsibility Theme Icon
...though it does relate 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... (full context)
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Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
External Forces vs. Personal Responsibility Theme Icon
Between this conversation and when Patrisse meets Gabriel a month later, she and Cherice do not talk about him. In that time, Alton comes to visit—as he has for... (full context)
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...still her father, and she says yes, of course. He explains that he didn’t want Cherice to tell her about Gabriel because he didn’t want her to feel like she wasn’t... (full context)
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Intersectionality of Identity Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
External Forces vs. Personal Responsibility Theme Icon
...centers, so what else is there to do? Patrisse’s brother Monte has even started selling Cherice’s things to buy crack and has started showing signs of schizoaffective disorder. This is the... (full context)
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A week after Patrisse meets Gabriel, Cherice takes her to Gabriel’s graduation from his Salvation Army treatment program. Gabriel’s extended family is... (full context)
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Gabriel’s family is poor, unlike Cherice’s family, who is middle class. (Cherice was kicked out of her community for getting pregnant... (full context)
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Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
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...leaving, and GM never apologized for closing the plant with no support for him. Even Cherice is secretive. But Gabriel is being in honest in public, thanking his family for standing... (full context)
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Gabriel eventually buys a car and drives Patrisse and her friends around, something Cherice can’t do because of her work schedule. He drives them wherever they want to go—pizza,... (full context)
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...in her own skin. But then, Gabriel suddenly disappears for weeks. After making some calls, Cherice tells Patrisse that Gabriel is going back to prison. Patrisse collapses, unable to picture her... (full context)
Chapter 4: Magnitude and Bond
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External Forces vs. Personal Responsibility Theme Icon
...time. It takes two months to even locate where he has been imprisoned and, when Cherice is finally allowed to visit him at Twin Towers Detention Center, she finds him emaciated,... (full context)
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...with Monte’s siblings and son, but Monte sits in the corner like a zombie while Cherice watches him with pain on her face. (full context)
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...doesn’t sleep or eat and acts erratically, rubbing toothpaste on the walls and shouting nonsense. Cherice eventually breaks down crying one day, which is not like her. Monte’s episode worsens to... (full context)
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Patrisse and Cherice decide there is no other choice and call the police, explaining Monte’s history to law... (full context)
Chapter 5: Witness
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...her since she has lived her whole life as a partial exile within the religion. Cherice was, after all, dissociated from the religion (and thrown out of the house) when her... (full context)
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Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
Twenty years after disavowal, Cherice argues for her reinstatement, and the Elders say yes. She is excited, but Patrisse feels... (full context)
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...changes and feels scared but also excited about finding her truest self. Patrisse learns of Cherice’s reinstatement mere moments before it happens and feels sick, deciding to hide in the bathroom... (full context)
Chapter 6: Out in the World
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...after being evicted with little notice. Bernard’s mother sleeps in the bedroom, and Patrisse, Jasmine, Cherice, and Bernard sleep in sleeping bags on the living room floor (Paul has moved out,... (full context)
Chapter 7: All the Bones We Could Find
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At the Center’s annual gala, Patrisse and Gabriel dance the night away while Cherice stays seated, smiling. She is happy just to watch. Patrisse moves back in with her... (full context)
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...her way back to the Canyon. When she gets home, her landline rings, and it’s Cherice—she tells Patrisse that people are saying Gabriel is dead. Patrisse refuses to accept this is... (full context)
Chapter 8: Zero Dark Thirty
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...2006, soon after Gabriel is taken to the fire camp prison, Patrisse wakes up to Cherice telling her that Monte has been arrested again. Patrisse is in college at the time,... (full context)
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Cherice tells Patrisse on the phone that Monte is in the hospital, though she doesn’t know... (full context)
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Patrisse and Cherice go to visit Monte several times over the next three weeks but are turned away... (full context)
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Cherice starts sobbing and says she feels guilty, which confuses Patrisse, since Cherice has done everything... (full context)
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A new hearing date is set. Patrisse and Cherice meet with the public defender and fire him after he says, with no concern, that... (full context)
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...Jasmine keep distance from the case due to overwhelm, so it’s up to Patrisse and Cherice to raise the funds. Patrisse refuses to be intimidated, though that’s what the system wants. (full context)
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...phone banks and letter-writing. In 10 days, they raise $6,000. After Patrisse pushes her to, Cherice asks her parents for the final $4,000, which they eventually provide. (full context)
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...know where to go, like so many prisoners with lengthy sentences. Then they drive to Cherice’s new Section 8 apartment for a barbecue. Chase greets his father half-heartedly—there’s no way to... (full context)
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...is what it means to work with mentally ill people. Monte becomes very depressed, and Cherice can’t support him since she’s also supporting Chase and Bernard. Jasmine and Alton now live... (full context)
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...returns to LA against Patrisse’s advice, moving in with Cynthia.  Less than a year later, Cherice calls Patrisse to tell her Monte is off his meds and is destroying Cynthia’s home.... (full context)
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Cherice and the re-entry team meet the others at Cynthia’s, and they all try to convince... (full context)
Chapter 10: Dignity and Power. Now.
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...not included, but he is a survivor, and so is their family. She remembers when Cherice desperately called the jails the first time Monte was arrested and how no one would... (full context)
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...the pages of the report up to 8 x 11 feet. She records audio of Cherice’s written notes on her phone calls to the jail and asks a local art space... (full context)
Chapter 14: #SayHerName
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...globe join biweekly calls. Meanwhile, Patrisse’s relationship with Mark Anthony is changing. She learned from Cherice that love is best expressed through labor rather than affection and, as she works around... (full context)