Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors is a trained Marxist who loves the blessings of capitalism. Her recent million-dollar home purchase adds to a portfolio of high-priced real estate and a growing financial empire.
Who said social justice doesn’t pay?
Black people should learn from Cullors’ actions rather than her rhetoric and embrace capitalism and the wealth-building strategies she employs. They, too, may find their path to the life of their dreams.
This week, the New York Post reported that 37-year-old Cullors recently purchased a $1.4 million home in an exclusive part of Los Angeles, adding to her $3.2 million U.S. real estate portfolio. She’s been buying properties at least since 2016 after the #blacklivesmatter took off and she co-founded the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF).
The high-profile deaths of black men and women at the hands of police officers have meant big business for the BLMGNF. It reportedly took in $90 million last year, but granted only $21.7 million to BLM and non-BLM chapters and organizations and spent $8.4 million on overhead including salaries. BLMGNF ended 2020 with more than $60 million on hand.
Chapter leaders are shocked about Cullors’ real estate portfolio and are demanding an investigation into how the organization is spending its money.
Some, like the father of slain Ferguson teen Michael Brown, claim they haven’t received anything from the BLM organization while others struggle on shoestring budgets.
Cullors reportedly doesn’t take a salary from the organization, but she’s certainly figured out how to monetize BLM for herself. She has inked a multi-year, wide-ranging Hollywood deal to develop and produce original programming across all platforms from scripted series to animated and kids programming.
This, along with speaking engagements and other ventures, has allowed her to amass a fortune.
Cullors may be trained as a Marxist but she behaves as a capitalist.
Cullors may also be a savvy investor. She snapped up a property for over $500,000 in 2016 that has since increased in value by 60 percent. By investing in property, she is doing what not enough Black families have done, building generational wealth.
Real estate has always been one of the most secure ways to build generational wealth and it led American households out of the Great Recession. According to data from the Federal Reserve Board, the market value of owner-occupied housing rose from $17.3 trillion in 2012 to $29.7 trillion in 2020.
Nearly all of that growth was attributed to the increase in the prices of existing housing, not newly built houses. The National Builders Association found that the primary residence represented nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of the median homeowner’s total assets and nearly half (42 percent) of the median home owner’s wealth.
Homeownership is especially critical to low-income households which tend to have little in assets other than the equity in their homes.
Demographically, Black households lagged behind their peers in homeownership rates at the end of 2020: White (74.5 percent), Asian (59.5 percent), Hispanic (49.1 percent), and Black (44.1 percent). This is a trend that has persisted for decades.
Sadly, while the other households have recovered from homeownership losses during the Great Recession (or come close), Black households are still significantly behind where they were. One analysis finds that in recent years, younger and lower-income households, especially minorities, are on a different trajectory than their peers as terms of homeownership rates which doesn’t bode well for future generations.
Many in today’s social justice movement bemoan capitalism as the reason for slavery and economic oppression. BLM leaders like Cullors couch their rhetoric about the struggle for justice and equality in the language of oppression and victimization, and lump the market-system in among the villains.
That’s worse than inaccurate but misleads Black Americans about the best path forward. Capitalism in a democratic society is not perfect but it is the best way for an individual from any station in life to experience economic mobility.
The free market rewards hard workers and risk-takers who can generate value for consumers by providing a good or service. One does not have to have a college degree, pedigree, or money to create a good life for him or herself.
Cullors may be a grifter who has used George Floyd’s murder to get millions from big corporations and celebrities for her cause and herself. She is definitely hypocritical for blasting the economic system that she is using to enrich herself while other, less fortunate followers and organizers struggle just to get by.
Instead of trying to downplay her Marxism, which we know she is from her own words, Cullors could educate her followers on how to secure deals, how to negotiate, and how to monetize a cause.
And to afford all of her properties, she must be in a good financial position. She could educate them on the value of good credit, saving for a down payment, leveraging home equity, or other strategies that she employed.
Although I doubt she will use this as a teaching moment, her fellow organizers just received a big lesson from Cullors: do what I do, not what I say.