Khan-Cullors’ “When They Call You a Terrorist” and Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow”

The issue of race has always been one of the most problematic aspects of intercultural communication due to the incessant prejudices that continue to affect the development of the dialogue and the promotion of cultural competence across the globe. With the baggage of slavery as one of the most horrendous blights on the history of humankind and the notion of colonialism being baked into every facet of world history, the problem of racial discrimination remains in its place even nowadays despite the active promotion of culturally sensitive policies.

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In their books, When They Call You a Terrorist and The New Jim Crow, Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Michelle Alexander prove that the past injustice affects the current intercultural relationships, shaping people’s attitudes and encouraging the use of the stereotypes that affect the lives of race minorities drastically. Providing the sociocultural context to the legal principles that underlie the “New Jim Craw” regulations as explained by Michelle Alexander, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, and Asha Bandele, introduce the idea of protecting the most vulnerable groups by respecting their rights and showing appreciation for their needs and feelings.

Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele argue that the problem of victimization is intrinsically connected to the phenomenon of power and its distribution within society. The observed imbalance of power has set the platform for the creation of the “new Jim Craw” principles that have been integrated into the social justice system and are likely to be interwoven into the fabric of the U.S. legal system soon.

The creation and the further growth of the Black Lives Matter movement can be seen as a possible counteraction toward the current increase in the promotion of social and cultural stereotypes that affect a wide range of cultural minorities, particularly African Americans. The movement has set the precedent that has allowed to take the plight of African American people seriously and recognize the fact that the identified ethnic group is being consistently marginalized in modern American society.

In her book, Khan-Cullors and Bandele make a very valid statement regarding the impact that the Black Lives Matter movement has produced: “At some point, sisters began to talk about how unseen they have felt. How the media has focused on men, but it has been them – the sisters – who were there” (Khan-Cullors and Bandele 218).

Simultaneously, the author emphasizes that the problem of racial discrimination continues due to the unwillingness of the dominant culture to consider redistributing power in a manner that will provide greater opportunities for African American people and other ethnic minorities in the United States. According to the author, the current justice system is just as flawed as the one that existed before (Khan-Cullors and Bandele 211).

The problem of power distribution that has created a vast platform for segregation does not stop at the legal level. According to Khan-Cullors and Bandele, it also trickles into schools, creating the power dynamics that cements the notion of injustice as the basis for cross-cultural communication. As the authors explain, “I learned I didn’t matter from the very same place that lifted me up, the place I’d found my center and voice: school” (Khan-Cullors and Bandele 26).

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The appeal to the issue of power and the way in which it corrupts people at the earliest stages of their social and cultural development can also be noticed in work by Alexander: “The nature of the criminal justice system has changed. It is no longer primarily concerned with the prevention and punishment of crime, but rather with the management and control of the dispossessed” (188). Alexander provides the theoretical foundation for the argument, whereas Khan-Cullors and Bandele contextualize it, placing the reader in the environment of a racially insensitive community where the principles of equality are overlooked due to the persistence of racial stereotypes originating from the era of slavery.

However, the idea of power issues affecting the current status quo suggests that the problem of racism in the United States needs to be managed in a way that incorporates both legal changes and alterations in the social perception of intercultural communication. While the necessity to address the described concerns at the legal level, primarily by reducing the threat of African American people being wrongly accused and exploited, is at the forefront of the needed change, altering the social perception of race and interracial relationships should also be integrated into the change.

The fact that the resurgence of the movement that supports the rights of African Americans has been viewed and feared as a terrorist raises questions regarding the perception of the specified group in the community (Alexander 116). The necessity of eliminating social biases and promoting the relationships based on the idea of equity runs across both works, allowing the creation of a homogenous approach toward handling the problem of racial discrimination and inequality in modern American society.

The appeal to the general sense of justice and the description of insecurity experienced by African Americans in the contemporary U.S. setting is another issue in the focus of both works. The legal aspects thereof covered by Alexander indicate that the current levels of racial profiling in the justice system shape the general safety of African Americans (Alexander 182).

The drug laws that are so reminiscent of the infamous Jim Crow legislation imply that the current social perception of African Americans as potentially dangerous and involved in drug peddling is degrading and dehumanizing. In addition to creating the impression that African American people are inherently prone to crimes, it also deprives the legal system of its rehabilitation aspect, focusing on punishment as its ultimate goal. As a result, instead of providing a chance for correction, the regulations described by Alexander create premises for restructuring the hierarchy in modern American society and rebuilding the principles of cross-cultural relationships based on the idea of equality.

The argument that Alexander makes also raises the question of whether the term “color-blindness” in its pure form is reasonable to use when participating in a multicultural team. In the context of contemporary society, it is critical to creating the premises or a multicultural dialogue with a profound understanding of the needs and specifics of each participant. In addition, addressing the concerns of disadvantaged groups is essential, with a detailed analysis of the issues that lead to the creation of the said social disadvantages.

However, the application of the notion of colorblindness as the platform for structuring a cross-cultural conversation implies dismissing any characteristic that makes a particular cultural group unique. Therefore, in the instances that require high cultural sensitivity, it is essential to see color and recognize the implications of one’s cultural and ethnic heritage. The introduction of cultural sensitivity allows building the rapport based on emotional involvement and cultural sensitivity, creating the setting in which addressing the needs of African American citizens, as well as people belonging to different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, in general, will become possible.

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In addition, both authors provide a subtle yet impressive description of the resilience of the African American community. Alexander’s message is more direct, with the depiction of the efforts that African American people have made in order to introduce changes to the legal system. Khan-Cullors and Bandele, in turn, offer a more implicit yet, nonetheless, impressive description of the resilience and strength of African Americans in the face of discriminatory regulations and huge biases in the contemporary social justice framework.

Thus, the authors of the books contribute to the dialogue extensively, making the idea of a social change possible. The portrayal of the journey that African American people had to make in their fight for justice is vivid in both When They Call You a Terrorist and The New Jim Crow, each summarizing the challenges of these efforts in their own way yet creating a long-lasting impression.

While Alexander’s book provides an in-depth introspect into the legal framework of the new regulations that are evidently infringing upon the rights of ethnic minorities, Khan-Cullors and Bandele in their book offer a unique yet simple way of addressing the concern by incorporating emotional and cultural competence into the cross-cultural dialogue. With the focus on both aspects of the problem, each of the works provides a unique standpoint to consider while comprising a comprehensive evaluation of the current situation when viewed together.

The issue of racial discrimination persists in modern society, and it needs to be addressed as one of the crucial concerns due to the vastly negative impact that it produces on the cross-cultural dialogue and the provision of rights to vulnerable groups. According to the authors, the analysis of the problematic aspects of the past relationships and the assessment of the current cross-cultural conversation patterns may contribute to building a healthier environment for a multicultural conversation.

Works Cited

Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The New Press, 2012.

Khan-Cullors, Patrisse, and Asha Bandele. When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir. Canongate, 2018.

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"Khan-Cullors’ “When They Call You a Terrorist” and Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow”." StudyCorgi, 1 June 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Khan-Cullors’ “When They Call You a Terrorist” and Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow”." June 1, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Khan-Cullors’ “When They Call You a Terrorist” and Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow”." June 1, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Khan-Cullors’ “When They Call You a Terrorist” and Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow”." June 1, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Khan-Cullors’ “When They Call You a Terrorist” and Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow”'. 1 June.

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