Monday we learned that the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation had spent $6 million dollars on an LA mansion back in 2020. A report by New York magazine indicated that when first questioned about its existence leaders debated how they could “kill the story.”
Eventually reporter Sean Campbell was told the house was always intended to “serve as housing and studio space for recipients of the Black Joy Creators Fellowship.” And then the following day the same people announced the launch of, you guessed it, the Black Joy Creators Fellowship.
That left a really big gap between the time the house was purchased in October 2020 and now. What exactly has BLM been doing with the house for the past 18 months?
Yesterday, Patrisse Cullors, who left BLMGNF last May, took a stab at explaining all of that on Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
As you can see, Cullors denies that anything about the purchase was meant to be a secret. “The reason it wasn’t announced prior is not nefarious as the headline infers, the property needed repairs and renovation,” she wrote. But as the Washington Examiner points out, the 2020 listing for the home is still available and nothing about it looks in need of renovations. Here’s the description: [emphasis added]
Hollywood History in Studio City, the Perfect LIVE-WORK Farm House Style Compound near Fryman Canyon, minutes to CBS, Studio City, Warner Brothers, Disney, NBC Studios & often used for Off-Site Filming in the Estate Home as well as the 2300 sf SOUND-STAGE-Theatre-Dance Studio! Impressively Renovated back to the 1930’s with all the Modern Conveniences! Butlers Pantry, Mud Room, Custom Wrought Irom Staircase and Rejuvenation Light Fixtures, Handles and other Details. Soapstone Center Island, Carrara Marble featured in Bathrooms as well Calacatta Gold Stone! 3 Fireplaces, one Imported from Italy and one with Handmade Arto Cement Tile Hearth. Solar Tubes, Motion Detectors, Nest Cameras & Thermostats! All Copper Plumbing, Roxul Insulation Sound Proofing, Tilt Recessed Lighting, Cheveron Handmade tiles in Owners Suite & Cheveron Pocket Doors! Beautiful Custom Millwork throughout the Luxurious Home! Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart were of a few A Listers who stayed as guest in this Estate. 2BR Guest House also has high-end finishes! Bungalow in the Pool Area! Over 7400 SF of useable Space. Buyers to do their own investigations of square footage, Seller nor Broker/Agents guarantee. (3700 sf Main House) 2300+sf Sound-Stage – Music Studio or Dance Studio with separate Commercially Zoned Parcel and 24 parking spaces! Carpenter Elementary Award Winning Schools. Spacious Private Grassy Yard with Amazing Play-set and even a Chicken Coo[p.]
Here are a few of the many photos of the house.
The inside is even nicer. Here’s the kitchen.
I think this is the main bedroom. I’m not sure because there’s also a bungalow.
This bathroom looks pretty renovated:
And the TV studio is a separate building:
I think this is the upstairs office area for the studio but I’m not sure.
Anyway, buying a property like this and then claiming it needed 18 months of repairs and renovations seems like a stretch. What exactly had to be done that would prevent people from using it occasionally? Looking at Cullors’ own videos the answer appears to be nothing. I posted two of her videos Monday but she has since made them private. Anyway, if the home has undergone substantial renovations since it was purchased that should be easy to demonstrate. Just post the bills showing what was done and explain why it was necessary in order to use the space.
Naturally, Cullors is also claiming the criticism of her and BLM is both racist and sexist. You won’t see this part in the caption but if you scroll through the images she said:
What’s happening to me and our movement is both racist and sexist. This is bigger than me, it’s about the long history of attacking Black people and Black women specifically, creating unsafe conditions for us and our families, scrutinizing our every move publicly and privately in ways that are unfair and unjust. It’s dangerous and we should all be trying to stop it, interrupt it, protest it.
Cullors goes on to say that she’s “grateful” for critiques from within and outside the movement but “what is happening to me is not about accountability or healing. It’s about destroying my life and destroying a powerful movement.”
Maybe this will fly with some people but the fact remains that under Cullors leadership BLM spent $6 million on a house that, so far as anyone can tell, has been used as a private domain for her and other leaders. The claim that criticism of her professional decisions with donations is racist seems like an attempt to create a more convenient villain. She’d much rather this be about attacks from the right. Unfortunately for her New York Magazine is no one’s idea of a right-wing news outlet. And someone better tell Jezebel that stories about this are sexist.
I guess I’m most surprised by her suggestion that her allies should “protest” this criticism. Given that she created a protest movement that seems like an oddly specific thing to say. Does she really want people in the streets to demand that left-leaning news sites stop asking questions about what she did with all those donations? I would tend to think some of those protesters were also donors and may be just as interested in where the money went.
Update: The NY Times’ Jamelle Bouie said this afternoon he hadn’t seen the story but now that he has it looks like grifting. Does Cullors think this a racist statement or is it just a statement?
Now that I have seen the story, of course it is bad for nonprofit organizations to use donations for personal gain. I would call that grifting as well.
— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) April 6, 2022