BLM Founder Bought Several Million Dollar Mansions with the People’s Money
I have seen several articles about how one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, potentially used BLM funds to purchase several million-dollar homes for herself, and people are outraged.
Is this outrage justified? Yes! Any leader of a movement that is supposed to give power to the people is emphatically in the wrong when they take the people’s money and use it for their own benefit.
But I’m confused about something.
We live in a capitalist country. Every large business, every political organization, every nationwide movement in our country is motivated by profit. Politicians buy mansions for themselves with our money every day. Charities use minuscule percentages of the donations they receive for actual charity and keep the rest for their leaders every day. Corporate moguls underpay their employees and build their empires on the backs of the working class every day. Why is it so surprising that Cullors did the same thing?
When a politician funnels money into his own pocket, making promises to the people and only keeping the ones he made in private to his top contributors, we call it democracy. When a multi-billion dollar company that claims to “care about our neighbors” pays its CEOs hundreds of thousands every year yet is hard-pressed to give even the managers on the floor more than $12 an hour, we call it capitalism and it’s ok.
When a leader of a movement that is supposed to be for the people funnels the money upward and buys a mansion, we call it Marxism and demonize the political ideals of Socialism. Somehow we miss the fact that the leader has done what politicians and corporations have been doing within the framework of capitalism for centuries.
In the end, no matter what you call them, every one of these systems has a fatal flaw — all of the power is at the top, and its weight crushes those on the bottom.
Think about all the places you could give your money to. Whether it's a political party or a charitable organization, the local Wal-Mart or the local BLM supporters, once the money is given you no longer have a say over anything about it.
Where does your money go when you donate $100 to your political party? What percentage of Benjamin actually supports the campaign? How much of it goes toward keeping the power on at headquarters? How much toward the more lowly workers’ paychecks?
How much landed in the pocket of a person who will use it to buy a pretentious, five-times-too-big house?
When we give up our money to most organizations, we give up the power to determine how it is used as well. That power resides with a select few at the top. And we, as consumers and as supporters, blindly give up that power when we give money without demanding to know where it is going — especially in the case of political or social justice causes.
How can we have a nationwide movement that is unified enough to manifest real change, yet small and local enough to make financial transparency not only possible but expected? How do we create an organization that keeps the financial power within the hands of the people it is supposed to support and protect? How do we enforce accountability for people in leadership roles?
Patrisse Khan-Cullors has, ultimately, fallen prey to the economic force that affects almost every large business and organization in our country: capitalism. Just like our major political parties, just like so many of our charities, just like our corporations and franchises, the BLM movement is modeled after a capitalist system that allows people to give blindly and then react with indignation when their money is ultimately used to line the pockets of the person on top.
Let’s stop blaming Socialism for the corruption of a financial structure that is inherently capitalist.
Until we can give the people who are financially supporting these systems a voice in where the money goes as well as complete financial transparency, the founders, leaders, and executives of these systems will continue to do what they have always done. Exploit the people on the bottom and buy expensive houses.