When They Call You a Terrorist

by

Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele

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Richie Character Analysis

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 racism, sexism, and healing, and Richie stood out to Patrisse as the intellectual and the artist in the group. He even made news when, as editor of the school paper, he published a picture of a vulva on the front page along with an article by a young woman about ending sexual assault. After graduation, Richie found a good job working with youth like him in the LA County school system. But after his hours were cut and he wasn’t able to make enough money for rent, he robbed someone. After he was arrested and sentenced to a decade in prison, Patrisse visited him on the day that Trayvon Martin’s killer went on trial. When Patrisse found out that the killer had been acquitted, she couldn’t help but think of Richie sitting in prison for 10 years for committing one nonviolent crime in order to survive, while Trayvon’s killer got to go free. In this way, Richie, like Trayvon, symbolizes Patrisse’s belief that Black lives do not matter to U.S. policymakers or the criminal justice system.
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Richie Character Timeline in When They Call You a Terrorist

The timeline below shows where the character Richie appears in When They Call You a Terrorist. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11: Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
Prisons and Policing Theme Icon
External Forces vs. Personal Responsibility Theme Icon
...trial—Patrisse drives 11 hours with Mark Anthony and a few of their friends to visit Richie, an 18-year-old who is serving a decade in prison for a nonviolent robbery (Patrisse wonders... (full context)
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
Prisons and Policing Theme Icon
Intersectionality of Identity Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
...They sat in circle with the boys, talking about racism and sexism, addiction, their dreams. Richie was the intellectual and the artist in the group and, after becoming both a feminist... (full context)
Prisons and Policing Theme Icon
Intersectionality of Identity Theme Icon
External Forces vs. Personal Responsibility Theme Icon
Then the district cut Richie’s hours, leaving him without a living wage. He couldn’t find another job given his erratic... (full context)
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
Prisons and Policing Theme Icon
Patrisse, Mark Anthony, and Richie’s friends sit with Richie in the prison visiting room and talk about what will happen... (full context)
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
Prisons and Policing Theme Icon
...is because of the Dream Defenders and Al Sharpton. Against all odds, Patrisse, Mark Anthony, Richie’s friends, and Richie hold onto hope. The visit with Richie ends, and they go to... (full context)
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
Prisons and Policing Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Healing Theme Icon
Patrisse and Richie’s friends pick up microwavable dinners. Back at the motel, Patrisse checks Facebook and sees updates... (full context)
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
Prisons and Policing Theme Icon
Intersectionality of Identity Theme Icon
Patrisse and Richie’s friends all weep together—and then Patrisse gets angry. It makes no sense that Richie could... (full context)