BLM co-founder and former leader Patrisse Cullors faced a backlash in April of 2021 after it was revealed she’d spent more than $3 million buying homes around the country. The backlash came from the right but also from people within the organization who demanded an independent investigation of where the money was coming from.
It turned out the money had not come from donations to BLM just from book advances and other deals. Still the large amount of money and real estate seemed at odds with Cullors stated fondness for Marxism. Cullors initially tried to defend herself on friendly media outlets, claiming that the buying spree wasn’t at odds with her Marxist principles because she saw the money not as hers along but as something belonging to her family. Of course, that’s how almost anyone with a family sees their income, including most capitalists. In short, her explanation didn’t many any sense.
Last week the LA Times published a profile of Cullors in which she claimed the release of that story was an attempt to get her assassinated.
“I have never felt this objectified,” she said. “I’m not a human being to a lot of people. It doesn’t matter that I have a child, that I have family, that I take care of my brother who’s mentally ill.”
The stories about her finances and other criticism had one aim, she said.
“It wasn’t just a character assassination campaign,” she said, “but a campaign to actually get me assassinated.”
I imagine a lot of police officers also felt targeted as they dealt with enraged BLM protesters last year. Cops were run down in the street, pelted with bottles, rocks and even Molotov cocktails while taking a steady stream of verbal abuse and demands they be fired in accordance with “defund the police.”
Needless to say, Cullors wasn’t assassinated. She took a month-long, therapeutic retreat which she organized herself. She said she was treated for PTSD using talk therapy and somatic therapy. Part of the therapy was to get over her feelings of being betrayed by others within the movement who failed to stand up for her when she was criticized. “I was really given space to be angry; I had a lot of rage, a lot of anger, a lot of sadness,” she told the LA Times.
As for criticism that her buying spree was at odds with her Marxism, Cullors still can’t explain that very well.
Regarding criticism that owning property and building wealth contradicts her image as a “trained Marxist,” Cullors is philosophical at first.
“I identify with Marxism. … Marxism is one really important framework for how I understand the kind of world I want to live in. But I am still developing what my philosophy is around a socioeconomic structure. … I want human beings to feel free and be able to evolve at their pace and to get their needs met. Is that Marxism? I know it’s not capitalism.”
She pauses before getting more personal.
“Nobody really understands the role of a movement leader, especially when it’s a Black woman or women in leadership — the level of vitriol we receive, the level of criticism, the level of expectation that we are supposed to be the mother for everybody. And that’s from Black folks and non-Black people, this idea that we have to give and give and give and give until we can no longer give.”
Again, it’s pretty amazing Cullors is publicly complaining about vitriol she received but doesn’t spare a thought to spare for the vitriol her organization helped encourage and direct at police all last year. And because this is coming from the LA Times, the author of the piece doesn’t bother to ask. Not that it likely would have mattered. If Cullors still can’t give a convincing defense of her own Marxism nine months after the issue was raised, she likely couldn’t answer a question about directing vitriol at police either.
Here’s Cullors in her own Dec. 2020 video explaining that she’s a Marxist: