Patrisse Cullors, former leader of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, is still grappling with accusations that she and her organization misused millions in donations that were meant to aid the movement against systemic racism in America. Recently,
Cullors sat down with the Associated Press to, once again, categorically deny that she misappropriated funds. But, this time, she did acknowledge that, as the money poured in after the death of George Floyd and the fairweather wave of BLM support that followed, the organization she founded was decidedly disorganized and that she and her people could’ve handled things better.
She and others offered insights into the growing pains of an organization that went from an idea to a global brand, almost in an instant.
“On paper, it looks crazy,” she said. “We use this term in our movement a lot, which is we’re building the plane while flying it. I don’t believe in that anymore. The only regret I have with BLM is wishing that we could have paused for one to two years, to just not do any work and just focus on the infrastructure.”
You might remember that in 2020, Cullors became somewhat of an embattled activist as stories spread across the news cycle about her buying high-end homes, which prompted calls for transparency in regards to where BLM donations are actually going. Well, according to AP, recent financial disclosures revealed that the organization had purchased a $6 million compound in Los Angeles’ Studio City that included a home with six bedrooms and bathrooms, a swimming pool, a soundstage and office space. The property, according to the organization, was meant to serve as a meeting place for activists and a campus for Black artists.
“We really wanted to make sure that the global network foundation had an asset that wasn’t just financial resources,” Cullors said defending the purchase. “And we understood that not many Black-led organizations have property. They don’t own their property.”
Yeah, that would have been dope—a central headquarters for Black activists and artists to plan and build together. But Cullors admitted that she used the property for personal purposes at least twice, which she admitted didn’t help her any in terms of the distrust that has surrounded the BLM Global Network in recent years. Still, Cullors angrily denied any allegations that she had been using money meant for the movement for personal gain.
“The idea that (the foundation) received millions of dollars and then I hid those dollars in my bank account is absolutely false,” she said. “That’s a false narrative. It’s impacted me personally and professionally, that people would accuse me of stealing from Black people.”
Cullors also talked about how disclosing the organization’s financial situation, particularly, all the money it was raising, didn’t go the way she expected.
“I thought practicing radical transparency with Black people would have been received well,” she said. “What was unhelpful about releasing it was not getting enough people allying with us about it. We weren’t the only organization to receive millions of dollars.”
I meeeean, the problem was the “radical transparency” coming far too late. You can’t really call it “radical” when the activist community had to pry the information out of you after people became suspicious.
Cullors is probably right about BLM getting added scrutiny just by virtue of being BLM while it wasn’t “the only organization to receive millions of dollars.” But hey, that’s what happens when your organization is the face of a movement.
Patrisse Cullors Denies Misusing BLM Donations, Admits Organization Made Mistakes As Funds Poured In was originally published on hiphopwired.com