As seen on Black Enterprise
Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors held back tears while addressing the public scrutiny she’s been under over a NY Post report on her alleged “real-estate buying binge” in wealthy affluent neighborhoods.
It was Khan-Cullors’s most recent purchase of a $1.4 million home in a predominantly white Los Angeles community that brought attention to her four homes worth a reported $3.4 million. A real-estate outlet first revealed the mini compound Khan-Cullors purchased in LA’s semi-remote Topanga Canyon. But, somehow that news spiraled into an exposé on the four properties Cullors owns in the US. There were also claims that she expressed interest in a beachfront condo in the Bahamas worth anywhere between $5 million to $20 million.
While leaders within the Black community are typically praised for leveling up in life, the BLM activist became the target of harsh judgment from many who took issue with her high-priced living amid ongoing Black Lives Matterdemonstrations. Khan-Cullors addressed the speculation around her real estate investments during an appearance on the Black News Channel (BNC) with Marc Lamont Hill on Thursday.
“I have never taken a salary from the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation,” Cullors stated. “That’s important because the right-wing media is trying to say donations for BLM went toward my spending. That is categorically untrue and incredibly dangerous.”
On Tuesday, April 13, Khan-Cullors first broke her silence on the “buying binge” accusations in a lengthy statement posted to her Instagram page. “There’s a false and defamatory article about me being amplified by media right now, and I want to make some things clear,” she said in the post’s caption.
“I’ve worked multiple jobs across many organizations my entire life,” she explained in the statement. “I’m also a published author, writer, producer, professor, public speaker, and performance artist. I love my work in all of these areas and I work hard to provide for my family,” she continued.
Among her work outside of Black Lives Matter, Khan-Cullors most recently signed “a multi-platform” deal with Warner Bros. Television Group in October. She’s also raked in earnings from her consultant work, as well as being an adjunct professor of the Social Justice and Community Organizing program at Arizona’s Prescott College. One thorough look at her portfolio, and it’s clear that Cullors has successfully secured her own bag outside of the Black Lives Matter Foundation.
“I do not receive a salary or benefits from Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. Period,” she said in her Instagram statement. “This effort to discredit and harass me and my family is not new nor is it acceptable. It has taken away from where the focus should be — ending white supremacy.”
While speaking with Hill, Khan-Cullors clarified how her money “comes directly from the work that I do.” She noted her roles as a teacher, producer, author that secured two book deals, in addition to her deal with YouTube and Warner Bros.
When it comes to her owning four homes, the LA native cleared up the mixed reporting. “I’m not renting them out in some Airbnb operation,” she explained. “Black women take care of their families, especially when they’re in a position to.” She also denied reports of her eyeing property in the Bahamas. “I haven’t been to the Bahamas since I was 15 years old,” she declared. “I don’t know where that lie came from.”
As an activist, Khan-Cullors acknowledged how “organizers should get paid for the work that they do,” she told Hill. “They should get paid a living wage.” Back in February, the Black Lives Matter Global Foundation released financial reports for the first time in its eight-year history. The organization took in just over $90 million in 2020 and shared its plans to “uplift Black joy and liberation.”
“One of our biggest goals this year is taking the dollars we were able to raise in 2020 and building out the institution we’ve been trying to build for the last seven and a half years,” Khan-Cullors told the LA Times.
It was December 2020 when Khan-Cullors released a YouTube video confirming her Marxist identity and providing further context into the lifestyle choice. She admitted that she does believe in Marxism and explained how it became “a philosophy that I learned really early on in my organizing career.”
“I’m working on making sure that people don’t suffer. I’m working to make sure that people don’t go hungry,” she declared. However, her identity with Marxism has seemingly been used against her. As a self-described Marxist, there are some who find it hypocritical of Khan-Cullors to promote advocacy for the less fortunate while living the good life in Topanga Canyon. Like Michael Brown Sr., the father of Michael Brown who was killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.
“Why hasn’t my family’s foundation received any assistance from the movement?” Michael Brown Sr. asked in a statement last month, Yahoo Newsreports. While speaking with Hill, Khan-Cullors revealed the “really amazing conversation” she had with Brown “about what is needed and how we can actually support.”
“Our community members do need resources, they do need support,” Khan-Cullors told Hill. However, she cautioned: “We are not a charity. We are a power-building body. It’s important that people understand the difference.”
When looking at the initial NY Post report and Khan-Cullors’s interview on BNC, there’s much to question. But her passion for the movement she helped to create shouldn’t be one of them.“We are an organization that has always fought for Black lives and we will always fight for Black lives,” Khan-Cullors said. “The role of a community organizer is to help build power.”