Commentary: The Black Lives Matter $6 Million Mansion Controversyby W. Bernell Brooks lll on 04/10/22
The recent reports of former BLM leaders secretly purchasing a $6 million mansion in California in 2020, marks yet another sad chapter in the ethical leadership challenges plaguing the organization since large contributions began flowing into their accounts in 2015.
In 2021, reports of Patrisse Cullors questionable $3 million purchases of homes in Georgia and California invited scrutiny. In January 2022, BLM members in Toronto released a statement to Twitter, complaining that “for BLM Canada to take money from BLM Global Network [Foundation] for a building without consulting the community was unethical.” The purchase was made by a Toronto-based non-profit operated by Janaya Chan, wife of BLM foundation co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors.
New Black Nationalists are not casting dispersion on the BLM founders, nor accuse them of being guilty of any wrongdoing. That said, we're not surprised that serious ethical issues continue to torment the founding members and some of their contemporary associates.
New Black Nationalists don't believe in taking cheap shots or piling on forces who aren't in the camp of the enemy when they're down.
Our critique of BLM's decentralized leadership model has been its continuous inability to provide competent leadership, training, and resources to its member organizations and local chapters.
In two articles "Black Lives Matters Demise and Questions of Black Feminism" and "Black Lives Matter 2.0, What Comes Next?"
New Black Nationalists clarified our political and ideological differences with BLM and our points of agreements. We did so because the future of Black Lives Matters as a diverse resistance movement really does matter.
BLM's lack of financial accountability and transparency in its operations and fetish for shadowy real estate acquisitions leave much to be desired. But these are not just bad faith actions of personalities. They also stem in part from a decentralized organizational structure that has allowed their virtual national office to freelance on the nightshift.
We are particularly struck by BLM leaders Cullors and Garcia's cavalier and at times arrogant responses to their own chapters and local leaders repeated requests for accountability. In this latest dust-up over the $6 million mansion, we did not find Cullors and Garcia's responses persuasive nor reassuring, not to mention the optics of sipping libations.
Black Lives Matter burst on the scene in 2013, as the face of a novel Black millennial force. Their new decentralized, inclusive grass-roots leadership model represented a decisive break from the vertically driven single Black male messianic leadership style of the 1960s Black Power Movement.
More importantly, their breakout was viewed as the first genuine mass-based movement led by radical Black Feminists. BLM seemed to vindicate all the sacrifices and industry of the first 1960s Black feminists two-front war against Black Liberation male chauvinism and exclusionary white feminists, the literary criticism battles with the Henry Louis Gates gang of post-structuralists, and the Intersectionality Theory wars with the academy and Womens Studies Departments.
Radical Black Feminists won all those wars decisively. They did so with serious on-the- ground organizing, path breaking theoretical work, and tenacious, principled, above-board struggle. And we might add, very little money.
It is BLM leader's failure to be open, honest, principled, and exemplify the highest ethical standards that truly troubles New Black Nationalists.
We are certain this handful of BLM leaders did not intend to tarnish the profound legacy radical Black Feminists built with decades of sweat and blood: but they have and continue to do so.
For the good of Black Lives Matter and the legacy of radical Black Feminism, perhaps it's time they consider stepping away.