It’s no secret that the Black Lives Matter movement and its co-founder (and self-identified “Marxist”) Patrisse Cullors has long accused American capitalism of being fundamentally, systemically racist and “wiping out entire communities“; these assertions are core tenets of multiple official Black Lives Matter organizations.

But that hasn’t stopped Cullors from signing a big contract with a major purveyor of BLM-reviled corporate consumerism: Warner Bros Television.

BLM’s disdain for American capitalism is well documented.

In a 2015 interview with The Real News and Jason Ball, BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors explained:

We [BLM] actually do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories. And I think that what we really tried to do is build a movement that could be utilized by many, many black folk.

Cullors’ co-founder, Alicia Garza, opined in 2015:

In the same way, we are living in political moment where for the first time in a long time we are talking about alternatives to capitalism…whether that’s abolishing a criminal justice system that feeds off the labor and the lives of black and brown people, whether that’s abolishing an economic system that thrives on exploitation, poverty and misery: this is the time for us to not just dream about what could be, but also start to build alternatives that we want to see.

Meanwhile, a 2018 review of Cullors’ memoir in Time magazine reported:

Cullors weaves her intellectual influences into this narrative, from black feminist writers like Audre Lorde and bell hooks, to Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong. Reading those social philosophers “provided a new understanding around what our economies could look like,” she says.

In addition, the current website for Black Lives Matter Los Angeles (co-founded by Cullors) lists “choosing Black community over White capitalism” under its “Organize” and “Current Campaigns” page. And, as a July 2020 piece in The Federalist notes,

Anti-capitalist sentiments are stated quite lucidly on the website of [a BLM-affiliated/ umbrella] group called the “Movement for Black Lives.” They proclaim, “We believe and understand that Black people will never achieve liberation under the current global racialized capitalist system.”

https://archive.vn/Y1rmZ

There are dozens more examples. Yet, on October 15, Variety reported:

Patrisse Cullors is making a big step into the television business.

The co-founder of Black Lives Matter has signed her first over overall deal with Warner Bros. Television Group. Characterized as multi-year and wide-ranging, the pact will see Cullors develop and produce original programming across all platforms, including broadcast, cable and streaming.

Cullors’ agreement encompasses scripted and unscripted series, longform series, animated and kids programming, as well as digital content. Together, WBTVG and Cullors will look to amplify the work of the Black Lives Matter, which Cullors started alongside Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi back in 2013, and create more opportunities for prominent Black storytelling. Precise terms for the deal have not been disclosed.

…“Black voices, especially Black voices who have been historically marginalized, are important and integral to today’s storytelling. Our perspective and amplification is necessary and vital to helping shape a new narrative for our families and communities. I am committed to uplifting these stories in my new creative role with the Warner Bros. family,” Cullors said in a statement. “As a long time community organizer and social justice activist, I believe that my work behind the camera will be an extension of the work I’ve been doing for the last twenty years. I look forward to amplifying the talent and voices of other Black creatives through my work.”

The Los Angeles Times added:

Building on her political activism, the Los Angeles native plans to work with the studio to develop scripted dramas and comedies, docuseries and animated programming for children, young adults and families.

…Warner Bros. said it would collaborate with Cullors in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and to provide more opportunities for Black producers, writers and other talent.

For a “social justice” organization that decries massive, hierarchical corporations, Warner Bros seems an odd choice of partner. WB’s website boasts that:

In 2019, Warner Bros. Pictures Group earned $4.4 billion in worldwide receipts ($1.57 billion domestic, $2.85 billion international), marking the 10th time the Studio crossed the $4 billion mark. To date, Warner Bros. remains the only studio to cross the $1 billion mark both domestically and internationally 19 years in a row—an industry record.

Evidently, as Dinesh D’Souza mused, “Marxism has become BIG BUSINESS in America”.

 

But some Black activists, commentators, and public figures are less than pleased with Cullors’ news.

Black Lives Matter has made a name for itself by equating capitalism with racism and police brutality; as a movement, it has long sought to discredit the traditional “up-by-your bootstraps” ideals of the American dream. Instead, BLM ostensibly holds that true racial justice necessitates the rejection of capitalist ideals such as meritocracy, individual responsibility, and individual choice.

Now, BLM’s co-founder’s (likely lucrative) deal to monetize her activism with a massive media corporation has actively discredited these supposedly foundational tenets. Oops.

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Samantha Mandeles is Senior Researcher and Outreach Director at the Legal Insurrection Foundation.

 

 
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