Patrisse Cullors, Black Lives Matter, and the Business of Activism and Politics

Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors has come under fire for purchasing a $1.4 million dollar home in Los Angeles among other real estate investments. The organization has also been criticized for not directly assisting Black people adequately, including the families of victims of police brutality. As a former organization board member who has a degree in Political Science, I explain how political and activism professionals should be held to the standards of equally successful businesspeople and also be able to gain the rewards of their success. Political leaders deserve to be paid fairly as long as they do their work ethically, since the work can be life-changing for people and communities, and this is critical for new talent to consider the field. Here, there is no apparent financial fraud or misappropriation, hence the real estate is not an professional ethics issue. The organization needs to emerge into a level of professionalism beyond its grassroots origins while establishing good governance practices in line with its values. I explain some challenges with crisis communications relating to fundraising and nonprofit structuring that make meeting community demands more difficult and throw around some ideas on how to solve this.

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