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BOOK REVIEW: ‘A Black Lives Matter Memoir’

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By Terri Schlichenmeyer

Growing up as the third child in a family of four, Patrisse Khan-Cullors lived with her mother and siblings in a “multiracial” neighborhood near Sherman Oaks, California.

Even though her mother worked all day and into the night, Khan-Cullors was reared in a loving atmosphere. But she was only 12 years old when she was arrested for the first time.

By then, she’d witnessed her brothers being questioned by police just for hanging out with friends. She started truly noticing her surroundings.

Not long afterward, as Khan-Cullors came to understand that she was queer, she began to earnestly question many things in her life.

At 16, she became an “organizer” and an activist, and she doubled down on it after her brother was arrested and called a “terrorist” for yelling at a woman. She was driven to act when, following the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman, she sent out a message to her friends: “I hope it impacts more than we can ever imagine. #BlackLivesMatter”

Khan-Cullors gives her story an urgent hear-me-now outrage. That “done playing” feeling is what readers may come away with—a feeling that underscores Khan-Cullors’ activism. And that’s what this book is about: it’s a rallying cry wrapped in a memoir, tied in with a call to legal action. If you’re ready, When They Call You a Terrorist is worth a look.

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Terri Schlichenmeyer

Terry Schlichenmeyer is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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