Despite being founded as a resource to help people of color in the wake of several concerning deaths at the hands of law enforcement, Black Lives Matter has still drawn its share of criticism from people. While the organization most certainly has its share of supporters and champions, many feel they could be better managed while others flat out call them a hate group and anti-police. This week they came under fire for some shady business practices done by their founder.
Patrisse Cullors (born June 20, 1983) is the American artist and activist who co-founded the Black Lives Matter movement in July of 2013. The group originated as a social media hashtag around the time of Trayvon Martin’s passing at the hands of neighborhood watch person George Zimmerman. The movement became nationally recognized for street demonstrations following the 2014 deaths of two African American men, Michael Brown and Eric Garner. This resulted in demonstrations throughout Ferguson, Missouri, a city near St. Louis.
Cullors began drawing negative attention after reportedly purchased four high-end homes, including a $1.4 million property in the mostly White area of Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles County. Considering the purchases and BLM reportedly bringing in $90 million in donations last year, Hawk Newsome called for a probe into Cullors’ finances.
“If you go around calling yourself a socialist, you have to ask how much of her own personal money is going to charitable causes,” Newsome said. “It’s really sad because it makes people doubt the validity of the movement and overlook the fact that it’s the people that carry this movement.”
Reports state that Cullors and her wife Janaya Khan own 3.2 acres customized ranch in Georgia. The ranch features an airplane hanger and was purchased for $415,000 last year. Cullors published a book called When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir. The BLM co-founder also agreed to a multi-platform deal with Warner Bros. Television Group to help produce content for “black voices who have been historically marginalized.”
“She had a lot of options on where to live. She chose one of the whitest places in California,” tweeted sports journalist Jason Whitlock. “She’ll have her pick of white cops and white people to complain about. That’s a choice, bro.”
Cullors released a statement refuting claims that she used the organizations money to make her purchases.
“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.”
She went on to list her various other roles outside of BLM including being a college professor, a TV producer, a published author and a YouTube creator. Cullors said all of her income “comes directly from the work that I do” before adding that “organizers should get paid for the work that they do.”
In regards to her multiple homes she says “I’m not renting them out in some Airbnb operation. Black women take care of their families, especially when they’re in a position to.”