Student Success

  • When They Call You A Terrorist book cover

    The 2021 Common Read

When They Call You A Terrorist: Faculty and Staff Resources

When They Call You A Terrorist book coverWhen They Call You A Terrorist, by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & asha bandele, will be CSUN's Freshman Common Reading for 2021-2022. During spring 2021, faculty and staff had the opportunity to join colleagues for a series of workshop-style book discussion exploring ways to teach and discuss the book.  Workshop notes and ideas from those discussions are available below.

We've got a deal for interested Faculty and Staff!

We will be giving away free copies of When They Call You a Terrorist, while supplies last. The deal is: you get one free copy in exchange for your promise to speak about the book with at least one new CSUN freshman in fall 2020. Some possible conversation starters:

"Have you read When They Call You a Terrorist yet?" Or:
"I see you are reading When They Call You a Terrorist. How do you like it so far?" Or:
"I read this book over the summer. I thought the most powerful part was __________. Have you read that part yet?" Or:
"Are you reading this book for a class? Which one?"

This is a limited offer, and will last only until we run out of books! Fill out this form to have us send you a copy by mail while supplies last. 

While you wait, or if our supplies run out, there are alternative ways to read the book. 

  • The CSUN University Library has a print copy of the book.
  • Los Angeles Public Library has the book in print, as an audiobook, and an ebook  (though you may have to place a hold for them).
  • The audiobook is available through Audible. If you haven't done so before, you can do a trial subscription for free, and choose When They Call You a Terrorist as your free book.


Resources for teaching and discussing the book

With your help (and contributions from book discussion leaders and participants), this collection of resources will continue to grow. Please suggest additions by emailing susanna.eng[at]

About the book: reviews and more

About Black Lives Matter (BLM)

Systemic Racism

History of Policing in the Us & Police violence

The Invention of the Police (The New Yorker)

The History of Policing in the United States, Part 1 (Eastern Kentucky University)

How the U.S. Got Its Police Force (Time Magazine)

History of Policing in America | Throughline  (npr, video)

Police brutality topic page (Opposing Viewpoints, log in with CSUN user id & password)

Police Reform topic page (Opposing Viewpoints, log in with CSUN user id & password)

Police Under Scrutiny (CQ Researcher,  log in with CSUN user id & password)

A short history of black women and police violence (The Conversation)

Study identifies how police violence contributes to mental health woes (University of Michigan)

Sweeping Change In US Views Of Police Violence, New Poll Finds (kpbs)

What the data say about police brutality and racial bias — and which reforms might work (Nature)


If you liked When They Call You A Terrorist, you may also like (further reading)

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates (CSUN 2017-2018 Common Read)

So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo

Minor Feelings: an Asian American Reckoning, by Cathy Park Hong (nominated for CSUN 2021 Common Read)

Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson

The purpose of power: how we come together when we fall apart, by Alicia Garza

Born a crime: stories from a South African childhood, by Trevor Noah (nominated for CSUN 2021 Common Read)

The Hate U Give, by Angie Tomas (nominated for CSUN 2021 Common Read)

Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine (nominated for CSUN 2021 Common Read)

The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead (nominated / finalist for CSUN 2021 Common Read)

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, by Richard Rothstein (nominated for CSUN 2021 Common Read)

G.I Bill

Notes from 4/28 discussion with Dr. Best & Dr. Augustin

Dr. Mechelle Best and Dr. Frankie Augustin hosted a discussion for faculty and staff on 4/28. They began their discussion by sharing some definitions of Intersectionality (by Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term 30 years ago). They introduced the Mapping Salient Identity activity ( - #equityNow, Dr. Sumi Pendakur). You can find this definition and their identity activity here. In speaking of identities, they shared that Black and African American people often get labeled as "strong." The ideas around strength are based on racist ideas and can lead to, for example, the false notion that Black people have a higher pain tolerance and therefore receive inadequate medical care. The discussion also centered on prison culture and incarceration, including the fact that prison culture is introduced to Black and Brown children far earlier than a majority of White children. We discussed police funding, and the idea that more funding could go to community based endeavors to make those communities safer. Finally we discussed whether or not the book has inspired people to take action, and that it's not enough just to read the book and be moved to tears. Some ideas included looking at how we teach and treat our students of color and diversifying where we send our charitable donations. 

They  discussion focused on the following questions

  • How did the book impact you? 
  • Having read the book, has your perception of incarceration changed?
  • Change is not about what you feel. It’s about what you do. Has reading this book inspired you to take action in any way? 

Notes from 4/30 discussion with Dr. Nancy Alonzo and Matt Soto

Dr. Nancy Alonzo and Matt Soto hosted a discussion on 4/30 that centered student voices. There was a panel of three Black CSUN students who shared their experiences at CSUN. One student shared that it took a while for a sense of belonging to kick in at CSUN, but that she felt better when she saw other Black students in her classes. She also shared that she has felt that there are definite stereotypes attached tp being a Black woman, for example that she may come across as being aggressive when she feels she is being passionate, and feels that she, like many Black students, needs to "code switch" and "tone down her blackness" in class. She also believes that at least one professor treated her differently because of the color of her skin, and accused her of cheating. She had another professor who went above and beyond when they noticed a change in her work and behavior, which was based on a precarious financial aid situation. She shared her story with the professor, who made her feel supported, and without whom she feels she might have dropped out. Students appreciate professors who go the extra mile, and check in on students if they notice them struggling. You never know what's going on with our students if you don't ask, and as professors, we shouldn't make assumptions about a student without checking in on them first. 

Another student shared an experience in which he did plagiarize a paper for a class he was taking. The professor could have simply reported him for plagiarism but instead checked in with him, as this was not normal behavior for him. She met with him, asked what was going on, listened to him, and ultimately gave him an extra week to do the assignment again. She "understood that one slip up didn't define him." 

When asked if they have encountered "business as usual / no change in deadlines" in the face of traumatizing events, one student said their world stopped with George FLoyd, and that there is a collective responsibility to take the time to reflect on them. Extend your hand to students who may be going through more than you know.

When asked, "What is something you wish all educators knew about their experiences as students, that could help them help other students?" they said to consider that the student might be a first generation student, and they may not come from a family with much support (financial or emotional). Check in on them, be concerned. In addition, mental health is so important, and students need professors with which they can connect.