Black Lives Matter claimed Tuesday that criticism of co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors is a product of a "right-wing offensive" that "continues a tradition of terror by white supremacists."
What is the background?
Khan-Cullors found herself at the center of controversy last week when her latest real estate purchase — a $1.4 million home in Topanga Canyon, California — circulated through the media.
The New York Post then revealed that, actually, Khan-Cullors has purchased four homes in the U.S. over the past five years, three in California and one in Georgia. According to the Post, Khan-Cullors even considered buying property in an exclusive area of the Bahamas where Tiger Woods and Justin Timberlake reportedly own property.
The news triggered renewed scrutiny about the finances of Black Lives Matter, which raked in more than $90 million in 2020 alone.
What did BLM say?
The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation said in a statement that Khan-Cullors is a "volunteer" and does not take a salary from her role with the organization, having earned only $120,000 through her work there "for duties such as serving as spokesperson and engaging in political education work."
"Patrisse did not receive any compensation after 2019," the statement read.
Further, the statement said BLM has not used organizational resources for the purpose of purchasing personal property.
The statement went on to dismiss criticisms against Khan-Cullors as racist terrorism meant to silence her.
Patrisse's work for Black people over the years has made her and others who align with the fight for Black liberation targets of racist violence. The narratives being spread about Patrisse have been generated by right-wing forces intent on reducing the support and influence of a movement that is larger than any one organization. This right-wing offensive not only puts Patrisse, her child and her loved ones in harm's way, it also continues a tradition of terror by white supremacists against Black activists. All Black activists know the fear these malicious and serious actions are meant to instill: the fear of being silenced, the trauma of being targeted, the torture of feeling one's family is exposed to danger just for speaking out against unjust systems. We have seen this tactic of terror time and again, but our movement will not be silenced.
But what do critics say?
Most notably, prominent critics who spoke out against Khan-Cullors over the weekend are not white.
For example, Hawk Newsome, leader of Black Lives Matter Greater New York City, said there should be an "independent investigation" into Black Lives Matter and its 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 told the New York Post. "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."
"We need black firms and black accountants to go in there and find out where the money is going," he added.
Meanwhile, black journalist Jason Whitlock was allegedly suspended from Twitter after criticizing Khan-Cullors and her most recent real estate purchase.
"Black Lives Matter founder buys $1.4 million home in Topanga, which has a black population of 1.4 percent," Whitlock tweeted mockingly last Friday. "She's with her people!"