Black Lives Matter founder Patrisse Cullors took a hit over the past year because of controversy over her financial dealings, including purchases of several new expensive homes in predominantly white neighborhoods. Pretty much everyone who read about the controversy immediately pointed to the hypocrisy of an avowed Marxist like Cullors filling her pockets with money raised by BLM.
But before drilling down on that point, it’s worth fleshing out (or trying to) what Cullors spent and was earning. Which homes? At what price? How much salary? How much of it was drawn from her work for BLM?
Well, no one knows. In fact, precisely those questions became a scandal within BLM. Having written about Cullors and her Marxism previously for The American Spectator, I was contacted by several sources researching the subject, and none were able to find anything about Cullors’ salary or financial situation. BLM’s own staff and supporters were unaware, to their great frustration. That lack of transparency surely is what recently prompted Cullors to resign from her position as executive director of the hugely influential organization she co-founded, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. She was almost certainly pressured to step down by members of BLM troubled by her lack of financial openness.
In response to widespread public criticisms, Cullors lashed out, crying (yes, you guessed it) “racism.” She denounced criticisms as the product of “right-wing media.” She protested, “The fact that the right-wing media is trying to create hysteria around my spending is, frankly, racist and sexist.”
Would that apply to Black Lives Matter, Ms. Cullors?
“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,” said Hawk Newsome, head of Black Lives Matter Greater New York City, which called for “an independent investigation” of Cullors. “We need black firms and black accountants to go in there and find out where the money is going.”
Newsome, of course, was precisely right. Last February, the Associated Press (that devil’s den of “racist and sexist” right-wingers) broke an exclusive on BLM’s finances. The AP reported on the enormous sum BLM had raised in 2020 alone, namely $90 million. The AP noted that this revelation “marks the first time in the movement’s nearly eight-year history that BLM leaders have revealed a detailed look at their finances” (even then, the story didn’t have a lot of specifics). The AP quoted none other than Patrisse Cullors:
BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors told the AP that the foundation is focused on a “need to reinvest into Black communities.”
“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,” she said in an interview.
Cullors, who was already active in her native Los Angeles, where she created her own social justice organization, Power and Dignity Now, became the global foundation’s full-time executive director last year.
And yet, as the AP noted, BLM chapters were frustrated at their lack of knowledge about these funds and how they were distributed:
According to foundation records shared with the AP, several chapters, including in the cities of Washington, Philadelphia and Chicago, were notified last year of their eligibility to receive $500,000 each in funding under a multiyear agreement. Only one BLM group in Denver has signed the agreement and received its funds in September.
A group of 10 chapters, called the #BLM10, rejected the foundation’s funding offer last year and complained publicly about the lack of donor transparency. Foundation leaders say only a few of the 10 chapters are recognized as network affiliates.
In a letter released Nov. 30, the #BLM10 claimed most chapters have received little to no financial resources from the BLM movement since its launch in 2013. That has had adverse consequences for the scope of their organizing work, local chapter leaders told the AP.
The chapters are simply asking for an equal say in “this thing that our names are attached to, that they are doing in our names,” said April Goggans, organizer of Black Lives Matter DC, which is part of the #BLM10 along with groups in Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, San Diego, Hudson Valley, New York, and elsewhere.
“We are BLM. We built this, each one of us,” she said.
As the AP suggested, Cullors herself was integral to this lack of transparency. Not coincidentally, shortly after this AP report, the public began learning of Cullors’ multiple home purchases. “As protests broke out across the country in the name of Black Lives Matter,” reported the New York Post, “the group’s co-founder went on a real estate buying binge, snagging four high-end homes for $3.2 million in the US alone, according to property records.”
Among them, one purchase was a $1.4 million property in Topanga Canyon outside Los Angeles, and another was a very nice “custom ranch” resting on 3.2 acres of rural woods in Georgia (click here for photos). The New York Post also provided details on how Cullors and her wife looked into an opulent celebrity beachfront home at “The Albany” resort in the Bahamas. The Post reported:
Patrisse Khan-Cullors, 37, also eyed property in the Bahamas at an ultra-exclusive resort where Justin Timberlake and Tiger Woods both have homes, The Post has learned. Luxury apartments and townhouses at the beachfront Albany resort outside Nassau are priced between $5 million and $20 million, according to a local agent.
The self-described Marxist last month purchased a $1.4 million home on a secluded road a short drive from Malibu in Los Angeles, according to a report. The 2,370-square-foot property features “soaring ceilings, skylights and plenty of windows” with canyon views. The Topanga Canyon homestead, which includes two houses on a quarter-acre, is just one of three homes Khan-Cullors owns in the Los Angeles area, public records show.
These properties do not resemble the “Black communities” that Cullors has long called on BLM supporters to invest in. In December 2016, BLM launched a major “Buy Black” campaign (partnering with an expensive New York ad firm) that called for black Americans to make purchases from other black Americans and to invest in black-owned businesses. “[I]t is more important than ever to buy local and buy Black,” said the campaign message.
That is precisely not what Patrisse Cullors did with her home purchases.
Again, the hypocrisy is rich. But of special interest here in this article, there’s also the stark hypocrisy of a self-proclaimed “super-versed” “trained Marxist” engaging in such opulent behavior apart from the masses to whom she preaches income equality. The double standard is not lost upon BLM staffers. Newsome underscored the hypocrisy: “If you go around calling yourself a socialist, you have to ask how much of her own personal money is going to charitable causes.”
And yet, in truth, Cullors’ behavior is nothing odd for a socialist or communist. Stacking up wealth is something that communist leaders have always done.
That fact might shock left-wingers who don’t know history, or young people led by their left-wing professors to believe that Marxism is about sharing and fighting greedy capitalists. But in reality, Cullors’ behavior is not at all atypical of Marxist leaders.
Greedy Marxists rounded up those who resisted, while enriching themselves with the money and property they confiscated.
The degree to which that is true would require a book to detail all the disgusting examples, whether leaders of Marxist regimes or Marxist organizations, from Soviet leaders and their government-provided dachas on the Black Sea, to modern-day Russian oligarchs and nomenklatura, to Chinese despots like Mao Zedong, to Nicolai and Elena Ceaușescu in Romania, to the crazy Kims in North Korea, and on and on. Readers of The American Spectator reflexively nod as they read these lines. They know. For those not aware, let me give just three brief examples: Fidel Castro, today’s communist Chinese leadership, and an old favorite, Gus Hall, who ran Communist Party USA from 1959 to 2000, and whose case seems particularly apt to this article.
As for Fidel Castro, at the time of his death, Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $900 million. Year after year, he was regularly ranked one of the world’s 10 wealthiest rulers. Second only to Fidel in Cuba was his crony brother, Raul, who succeeded him as commie king of the island. At the time of Fidel’s death, all Cubans were set at an annual salary of $120 per year, from doctors to teachers to maintenance workers to baseball players. That is what equal redistribution of wealth looks like under Marxist leaders — everyone is equally poor, with the grand exception of the leaders, i.e., the one percent. You couldn’t own a home, mango tree, or boat in Cuba, but Fidel himself damn well owned the island.
When Fidel croaked in 2016, Raul took over as the top banana in Havana. Raul’s net worth is estimated at $100-150 million. How does that measure up against the Cuban masses fighting for social justice? Though data is notoriously hard to pin down, it’s safe to say that the average monthly salary in Cuba today is between $30 and $50. Yes, stunning.
As for today’s China, leader Xi Jinping is worth a ton of money. It is difficult to separate his direct personal net worth from that of his family, but estimates peg him personally in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars, and some price him at $1.2-1.5 billion. One financial website reports his net worth at $1.2 billion, with a yearly salary at $22 million in 2021. Xi’s family is a selfish cabal of filthy rich communist fat-cats. The levels of nepotism and outright graft are perhaps unparalleled anywhere in the world today, as they stroke each other with the cash they plunder from the Chinese masses.
Xi’s hypocrisy is typical of Chi-com officials. According to the New York Times, “At least four families among the nine-man Politburo Standing Committee that ruled the country from 2007 to 2012 each owned or controlled documented assets in excess of $150 million, including relatives of Mr. Xi, former Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Mr. Zhou and Jia Qinglin, the former fourth-ranked party member.”
Among them, former Prime Minister Wen Jiabo’s family has a net worth of $2.7 billion. According to the Guardian, Wen’s 90-year-old mother “not only left poverty behind, she became outright rich, at least on paper, according to corporate and regulatory records. Just one investment in her name, in a large Chinese financial services company, had a value of $120 million five years ago, the records show.” The same is true for (among others) the likes of Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, and Wang Yang, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. While they praise Mao and Marx, they nab cushy multi-million-dollar luxury homes in Hong Kong.
All of this, of course, stands in marked contrast to the average Chinese salary in 2021, which is about $15,000.
Closer to home, a favorite example is old Gus Hall, who, like Patrisse Cullors, was a prominent American Marxist. He ran the Communist Party USA for over 40 years as his personal fiefdom. As detailed by Hall’s No. 2, Morris Childs (laid out in John Barron’s fascinating 1996 biography, Operation Solo), the Kremlin illegally smuggled millions of dollars in annual funding to CPUSA during Hall’s tenure. The total rose to $2,775,000 by 1980. The FBI knew the precise amount because it counted every bill at a halfway house in New York prior to when Morris (a double agent serving the FBI) deposited it in safe deposit boxes for Gus Hall, who then proceeded to fill his pockets as desired.
“Most people disliked Hall,” wrote Barron of Hall’s Marxist cohorts. “In fact, Morris knew of no one who liked him.” But Hall certainly liked the Soviets — his Kremlin sugar-daddies. As Morris Childs noted, the primary reason is that the Soviets were providing “what Hall craved most — money.” Hall was “by nature exploitative and avaricious,” he added. Morris Childs realized that the more money Communist Party USA could extract from the Soviets, “the more Gus will be at liberty to pocket.”
Like members of BLM with Patrisse Cullors, suspicious CPUSA members had no idea how much income Hall was pulling from his leadership of the organization.
Of course, the notion that Marxists are greedy flies in the face of sappy American millennials who think that capitalism is greedy and Marxism/socialism is bereft of such vice; it’s about sharing and helping the poor. Nothing is further from the truth.
It’s crucial to understand that Karl Marx himself and his Marxism were and are based on greed. It’s not merely that some Marxist leaders are covetous criminals; the leaders are attracted to an ideology that is based on coveting and envy. Both Karl Marx the person and Marxist ideology were all about money. Marx and his materialistic ideology — one that denies the supernatural and immaterial world — were utterly obsessed with capital. Money and property are the alpha and omega of Marxism. It’s so ironic that communists blast the wealthy for being allegedly obsessed with money and material things when, in fact, communists are obsessed with money and material things.
As for Karl Marx himself, I could lay this out at great length and have done so in books, but a few words for here:
It’s quite revealing that some of Marx’s slimiest anti-Semitic comments accused Jews of greed and haggling. “What is the worldly cult of the Jew?” asked Marx in his ugly 1844 essay “On the Jewish Question.” His answer: “Haggling. What is his worldly god? Money.”
Ironically, it was Karl Marx himself who treated money as his worldly god. Marx’s nasty statements about Jews are more a diagnosis of himself. “Money is the jealous god of Israel before whom no other god may exist,” growled Marx. “The bill of exchange is the actual god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange.”
No, Karl, you are obsessed with money. Money is your god.
And then there’s Marxist ideology. Look at what Marxism wants from you. It wants nothing less than all your property. Marx and Engels stated in the Communist Manifesto: “the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.” Many Marxists and socialists and “democratic socialists” today fuss over to the degree to which Marx wanted to remove or limit property, but in the Manifesto, he and Engels doubled down with their sweeping statements. “You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property,” they wrote. “[Y]ou reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend.”
They also wanted your income and even your inheritance. Point three in their 10-point plan in the Manifesto called for nothing less than “abolition of all right of inheritance.”
And if taking away your land, property, and inheritance wasn’t enough, they also wanted to take away where you lived. Here’s point nine in their plan: “gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country.” Chew that one over: Marx and Engels and pals wanted to redistribute not only your property but you yourself.
Is this not greed? It became government greed by gunpoint, by Gulag. Fellow greedy Marxists rounded up those who resisted, while enriching themselves with the money and property they confiscated.
In short, Marx and Marxism are based on greed. Hence it is no surprise that it attracts greedy people who, in turn, engage in greed. Modern Marxists who fatten their bank accounts with other people’s money, demanding more and more of it while they buy homes and lots of stuff, are not at all being hypocritical to Marxist ideology. Rather, they are being perfect practitioners.