Home Community and Culture The Skepticism around Black Luxury

The Skepticism around Black Luxury

Patrisse Khan-Cullors
Photo credit: © Adrienne Raquel

There’s been a lot of talk about Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors and her new real estate purchases. Khan-Cullors has been slandered with many believing that she used funds from the organization for her recent investments—new homes, across the country, equating to $3.2 million in total. The news sent Twitter into attack mode and many users began to speak badly about her.

Khan-Cullors has since responded stating that she has multiple sources of income and didn’t use any funds raised by BLM for her acquisitions, “To be abundantly clear, as a registered 501c3, BLMGNF cannot and did not commit any organizational resources toward the purchase of my personal property,” Khan-Cullors went on to say that she has not been paid by BLM since 2019. 

USA TODAY even went through their own investigative process, fact-checking to make sure that Khan-Cullors had not used any funds from BLM for her luxury purchases. With all of the outrage, I have to question if it will ever be acceptable for Black activists to have luxury?

Activism and being Black are sort of synonymous, the fight for equality and justice has been going on since the “founding” of America—that fight continues today as Black people are still the receivers of inequities in all areas of life such as healthcare, real estate, housing and more. 

Those that choose to be on the frontlines and be the face of the movement are volunteering to do something that is difficult, often coming with a lot of criticism from the opposing side and unfortunately, sometimes from those you are fighting for. Those in these positions are often not paid, making a modest income as they choose to speak out as well as work a job to pay their bills and well, survive.  

First, I would like to say that it’s hilariously sad that people would assume she took the money from BLM. When an activist makes money is the first thing people assume is they got it from the organization? Do they assume that person does nothing else for money? Is that person expected to be broke and struggle?

 It’s as if the people who choose to be activists are unknowingly sacrificing their humanness and their want for more. Is a person who is a proponent of equal rights not supposed to have the right to better things in life? Khan-Cullors believes that the accusations against her are an attack from the right to discredit the BLM movement, I can’t say that I disagree. It’s just astonishing to see the number of people who don’t believe that people can have a life outside of their work, or better yet access to finer things because of the work that they do. 

It’s no secret that civil-rights activists such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X lived relatively poor lives, the image of the modest-living leader focusing on the struggle and sacrificing a stable life for their family is a stereotype that we have to get away from. In 2021 people should realize that humans are complex and can be voices for the struggle while also enjoying luxuries.  

I don’t want to just limit this to those in the activist field, last year rapping-couple Cardi B and Offset were criticized after purchasing their daughter, Kulture an $8000 Birkin bag. The comments led to a clap-back from Cardi who stated, “If I’m fly and Daddy’s fly, then so is the kid.” A perfect response to the ignorance that social media so often brings to light. 

As we’ve learned, no matter if you’re doing good or bad, people are going to talk. Because if Kulture was out here in Walmart clothing, then that’ll be another thing people would complain about. People shouldn’t be criminalized for enjoying the fruit of their labor, especially when they share that wealth with their offspring. 

Though it isn’t always done intentionally, society likes to box people in, making it seem like we humans can’t be giving, intellectual, fly, and purposeful. The hate also seems to always be aimed at those within the Black community—another tool of white supremacy!

I love pointing out how white supremacy is prevalent in our everyday lives, and this is a tool that that is also rooted in slavery. Pitting slaves against each other was a tactic used by slave masters to take the focus off of the real issue—slavery! 

Sometimes a lot of the attacks come from people within the same community, which creates more room for other groups to have critical thoughts and doubts they believe are warranted. Not to say they may not believe this anyway—the point is that when your own people engage in such narratives it can seem like a harder blow. 

This jealousy can stem from an array of things such as informants who would come and try to dismantle the organization efforts of Black power groups such as the Black Panther Party—as we see in the recent film Judas and the Black Messiah. Black people have a reasonable doubt when it comes to those who claim to speak out for us, FBI informants, COINTELPRO, and just plain racism; all of which have led to the mistrust and judgemental behavior against our own people.  

History has given us a distrustful mindset, however, if we could realize that these are distractions formed by white supremacy, I’d think we’d be better off. As we know, it is hard to get rid of the habits that have been systematically embedded, but as we continue to become more educated we can create a better society for all of us. 

This better society starts with individual behavior, including not judging others for what they decide to do with their funds and realizing that we all deserve a little luxury.

Corli Jay
Corli Jay
Corli Jay is a freelance writer based in Chicago, IL. Her work primarily focuses on policies that negatively impact the Black community, the community’s resilience, and Chicago’s music scene.
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