If you’re still the bookstore type, you’ll notice stacks upon stacks of books in the business section inviting you to get rich quickly off of real estate. Most of these are bunkum, but watch out: If Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors comes out with a guide of her own, snatch that up quick.
I’m not her agent, so I can’t do the heavy lifting for her, but here would be my elevator pitch:
Step 1: Start a social justice movement. I know, this sounds counterintuitive, but if you get out in front of this, it can be pretty profitable. To get the old left-wing activist diehards on board, keep spouting buzzwords those sorts love to hear. Call yourself a “trained Marxist,” for example. To get the young ones in, come up with a catchy social media hashtag. Something like, oh, I don’t know — #BlackLivesMatter.
Step 2: Use that cred as an activist to get other gigs. You can be a college lecturer, or maybe score $120,000 for “duties such as serving as spokesperson and engaging in political education work” for the Black Lives Matter Global Foundation. Get a book deal. Maybe a development contract with Warner Bros.
Step 3: Buy $3.2 million in real estate in the U.S., particularly as housing stocks are low and prices will likely go higher for the time being. When you receive criticism for amassing this kind of property when you’re a “trained Marxist,” say you bought it for your family. When the criticism persists, have Black Lives Matter say criticism is part of a “tradition of terror by white supremacists against Black activists.”
Step 4: After all that blows over, post a link to an NPR article on Instagram that claims the housing market is racist against black people. Then claim amassing a real estate empire is one way to “disrupt white supremacy.”
I don’t quite seem to understand how this works, but I’m sure Khan-Cullors can fill us all in. In the meantime, the most famous “trained Marxist” with a $3.2 million real estate portfolio (at last count, when it was first revealed in April) shared a link to a story from NPR’s “Code Switch” podcast with her Instagram followers earlier this week.
The title? “Black Americans And The Racist Architecture Of Homeownership.”
“Thank you @npr for highlighting the history of racism inside of the housing market and why Black homeownership has always been a way to disrupt white supremacy,” Khan-Cullors captioned her post.
The story, an involved one, nominally followed black Los Angeles resident DonnaLee Norrington on her quest to secure a mortgage for a home. (Spoiler alert: She gets it.) The May 8 piece touches on issues like redlining and intimidation that existed before and in the immediate aftermath of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which made discriminatory housing practices unconstitutional.
And yet, the article noted, inequalities persist.
“Owning a home is an undeniable part of the American dream — and of American citizenship. It is also the key to building intergenerational wealth. But Norrington’s homeownership success story is an increasingly rare one for Black Americans,” the piece said.
“Over the last 15 years, Black homeownership has declined more dramatically than for any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. In 2019, the Black homeownership rate was about as low as in the 1960s, when private race-based discrimination was legal.”
You can probably guess the culprit, as NPR put it: “The Fair Housing Act of 1968 recognized segregationist practices like redlining to be unconstitutional. But the law only prohibited future, formalized discrimination rather than undoing the foundationally racist landscape on which homeownership in America was built.”
This doesn’t explain, of course, why a slow erosion of that “foundationally racist landscape on which homeownership in America was built” wouldn’t have happened, instead leading to a “Black homeownership rate was about as low as in the 1960s, when private race-based discrimination was legal.”
Instead, the original sin of structural racism has apparently so thoroughly rotted the joists that collapse compounds itself — meaning, of course, it’s time to replace the entire structure.
This is an obviously partisan synopsis of a sprawling piece, one which is a 44-minute listen should you choose to go the audio route. But I digress, because there’s one reason we’re talking about this: The individual who posted the story to her Instagram account has a $3.2 million housing portfolio — including a $1.4 million home in Topanga Canyon, California, an exclusive community that is 88 percent white and has a black population of less than two percent — but wants us to know the architecture of homeownership is inherently racist.
This all comes, meanwhile, as home buyers of all races are squeezed to afford anything.
According to an April Wall Street Journal article, mortgage-finance company Freddie Mac found the American housing market was nearly 4 million homes short of where it needed to be to meet demand. Meanwhile, material prices were up, too. In February, median home prices were up 16 percent over a year ago. That is a slap in the face for buyers who can’t afford a single home, much less $3.2 million worth of them.
Furthermore, we hear the latest excuse from the “trained Marxist” as to why she owns more real estate than any individual — black, white, Hispanic, Asian or other — will likely own in their lifetime. This time, she implies, it’s because “Black homeownership has always been a way to disrupt white supremacy.”
Here are some previous justifications, in case you missed them.
Family: During an interview with Marc Lamont Hill, Khan-Cullors said her ownership of these properties “is in direct support to black people, including my black family members, first and foremost.”
“For so many black folks who are able to invest in themselves and their community, they choose to invest in their family, and that’s what I have chosen to do.”
Organizers should be recognized: “Organizers should get paid for the work that they do,” Khan-Cullors said in the same interview. “The fact that the right-wing media is trying to create hysteria around my spending is frankly racist and sexist.”
Because, as we all know, most organizers of a self-declared Marxist usually own a few million dollars in real estate.
Why do you need to know?: Sometimes Khan-Cullors didn’t even need to make the argument herself. Facebook precluded users from sharing the New York Post story that broke the buying spree as well as taking it down from the paper’s official page, claiming the story was “violating [Facebook’s] privacy and personal information policy.”
Black Lives Matter, meanwhile, called the attention a form of “terror”:
“The narratives being spread about Patrisse have been generated by right-wing forces intent on reducing the support and influence of a movement that is larger than any one organization. This right-wing offensive not only puts Patrisse, her child and her loved ones in harm’s way, it also continues a tradition of terror by white supremacists against Black activists,” the organization said.
I know all of this would make for an unorthodox (and probably internally illogical) investment strategy book — but as a gripping read, it sure beats “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.”
Alas, I doubt “How to Fail at Trained Marxism While Building a Small Property Empire” will be appearing at a Barnes & Noble near you anytime soon. In the meantime, though, you can enjoy the ongoing circus of cognitive dissonance as Khan-Cullors keeps making increasingly outlandish excuses for why her real estate investments aren’t hypocrisy — and how the market is racist and stacked against her.
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