Black Lives Matter. It’s a heartfelt sentiment, a political slogan, a cynical disguise for a neo-Marxist intersectional revolution and a way for white liberals to virtue signal and assuage guilt they feel at participation in a white-led social and economic structure. But what are the roots of BLM? Who are its supporters and members? What is its core mission? What useful conclusions can be drawn about a group which is in large parts grassroots and leaderless? This report takes a closer look.
Officially BLM formed was formed in 2013 by “three radical Black organizers” called Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. The movement arose following the 2012 fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin and is focused on protesting and ending police violence against black people as well as asserting the legal rights of black people. According to Cullors, what the group wants is simple: accountability and change. Hard data on the size of BLM and its support base is hard to come by but is certainly in the hundreds of thousands for those with close ties and direct participation and the tens of millions in terms of vocal supporters and boosters.
In addition to raking in donations, BLM is bolstered by over $133 million from groups funded by various far left donors including billionaire George Soros as well as Rob McKay, in addition to Democratic consultant Rob Stein’s umbrella of funding mechanisms through the Democracy Alliance. BLM also has significant sources of funding from the Ford Foundation and Borealis Philanthrophy’s Black-Led Movement Fund. Borealis is also heavily involved in fighting for illegal immigrants and transgender people.
BLM started up dozens of national chapters and continued to grow, with activists making their presence known and organizing marches across the country, pushing Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders offstage at a rally and exerting a strong media and cultural influence whenever racial relations came up in the public discourse such as in the aftermath of Dylann Roof’s mass murder of black churchgoers. BLM also came further into the spotlight as a result of police shootings of unarmed black people including in the cases of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Atatiana Jefferson, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Breonna Taylor and Deborah Danner.
Activist left-wing media organizations such as the New York Times have concluded that BLM is winning by showcasing police brutality that has occurred in crackdowns on the ongoing protests and riots. Either way, nobody should make the mistake of dismissing BLM as fringe or unimportant, with a recent reliable poll indicating that BLM is the most popular political organization or figure in the country and pro-BLM protests now occurring in all 50 states and in various countries around the world including Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands.
BLM’s core mission is police and prison reform for communities of color which they believe are being unjustly persecuted, assaulted, killed and jailed by white or white-aligned authorities. In addition to “defunding the police,” the influencers in BLM have made clear their desire for wealth redistribution, drug legalization, expanded access to abortion, universal healthcare and major prison reform, if not outright prison abolition. The movement is focused on opposition to what it perceives to be “white supremacy” running the US economy and political structure which it considers to be the primary force holding down and harming black folks from reaching their full potential. Organizers such as Cullors insist that the movement is “absolutely and always pushing peace,” although the actions of numerous supporters certainly calls that into question.
BLM is a socially left-wing protest movement in the American sense of the term. The movement has appropriated the racial messaging of black nationalists like Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) and Malcolm X (1925-1965) but mixed it deeply and irrevocably with the ideologies of Marxism, intersectionality, critical race theory and moral relativism. Rather than advancing a mission which takes into account the socially traditional views of many black Americans and people of African descent worldwide, BLM embraces fringe hyper-progressive views on sexuality, gender, abortion and drug use and legalization which are also proudly trumpeted by its numerous corporate backers and political mouthpieces.
Truth depends on who is saying it and their race and level of purported victimization by the system, violence is not violence when done by the “right” people is a pervasive attitude that’s crept into many supporters of BLM and associated far-left movements, as have toxic platitudes such as “white silence is violence.” BLM’s ascendance to the top of the intersectional pyramid has not gone without its hitches, however, with bizarre incidents such as their 2016 conflict with Toronto’s homosexual community over the pride parade, accusing it of anti-black racism. BLM has shown a savvy organizational structure and messaging apparatus, with its legions of media boosters focusing on promoting white guilt, division and often outright black supremacist rhetoric. Writing recently in the New York Times, Chad Sanders argued that children should reject their parents and family members who won’t financially contribute to BLM.
“Don’t send love, send money,” Sanders quipped on Twitter, referring to his recent piece. At least Sanders rejects the maudlin sentimentality of many white liberal supporters of BLM, but on the other hand his call for an East German DDR-style informant system and the fact that BLM routinely weaponizes white guilt and desire to “make up” for historical wrongs is part of the double-sided tactic that the group uses as it pushes radical policy and black-first solutions while simultaneously exploiting popular anguish. Yes, unless you support us you should feel bad (and maybe even lose contact with your family), but unless you also financially support us your feelings of guilt and desire to be a good person are irrelevant is a pretty hard-line message to drive, after all. But many, including comically culturally-appropriating Democrats are taking the bait wholesale. When you are winning, you can afford to exert a little more pressure, and BLM is currently at the apex of its power.
Because its activism and chapters are widely spread and supporters do not sign up on official lists or roll calls, it is hard to give precise figures about the size of BLM or the demographics of its support base. The entire point of a largely leaderless resistance is to create a mass of anonymous, energized supporters who can be rallied on short notice and disrupt everyday life for the comfortable members of society. Who exactly is “in” BLM or just “supports” it is partly a matter of interpretation. Any white college girl can make a T-shirt that has #BLACKLIVESMATTER on it in large letters and show up to a protest, after all. Does that make said college girl “part” of BLM or just a temporary activist who will go back to posting eyelash tutorials on Instagram once the current furor dies down? If a young Latino transgender man whose parents displaced black people’s jobs when they came to America scrawls #BLM on a sign and hits the streets is he now “part” of BLM?
The fact is that as aforementioned, BLM is highly popular in the United States and positively perceived among left-wing, left-leaning and even many centrist voters. Its messaging has now successfully penetrated almost all areas of American political discourse and lawmakers such as Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proudly echo militant BLM demands which will never pass as legislation in order to fire up their bases and fill their campaign coffers.
As conservative commentator Tucker Carlson put it, BLM is now a political party. A crowd of BLM supporters shouting down Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey after he stated he did not support “full abolition” of the city’s police department was preceded by an organizer stating that unless he backed their “defund the police” mission he would be voted out of office. As Carlson put it, because of the chance of losing your job or being maligned as a racist for opposing it, BLM is perhaps “the strongest political party in the United States.” The new rule, as Carlson explained it, is simple. If you want to keep your job and feel safe in public “you are not allowed to criticize Black Lives Matter in any way. Full stop.”
BLM can afford to push the envelope because it now controls the narrative. Despite past incidences of BLM rhetoric and black identity extremism fueling violence against police, BLM is a large and spread-out movement that can’t be held legally responsible for violence that any individual might commit. In that sense, like the umbrella of Antifa groups, BLM is immune from prosecution. Websites could be shutdown or leaders interrogated, but at the end of the day you can’t stop propaganda whose time has come. When an activist base sense institutional weakness and national division and strikes with mass protests and riots cheered on by the media it is very hard to separate out precisely who is responsible for violence and disorder in the midst of the chaos.
Despite months of frantic messaging on television about coronavirus and the need to social distance, thousands of public health officials have stated their support for the BLM-led protests. Washington Governor Jay Inslee was out marching with BLM in close proximity to other strangers while his Twitter banner still demanded that Washingtonians practice social distancing. Supporters of BLM have also turned a blind eye to violence and property destruction which has occurred as a result of the unrest. By positioning themselves as the champions of racial justice, the BLM umbrella of groups has accomplished a remarkable ideological and organizational coup. Part of the genius of the organization is in the name itself, which is a statement of belief that could only be disagreed with by someone who believes that black lives don’t matter. This sets up any critics of BLM as hateful and ignorant people who at best must be “educated” and at worst must be physically assaulted, fired from their jobs or publicly shunned.
“You don’t support BLM? What are you, a racist?”
When your organization is claiming to be the voice for generations of people of color who faced murder, persecution, forcible family separation and daily racist violence and discrimination it is hard for opponents to oppose you without seeming prejudiced themselves or to be subtly excusing or dismissing past wrongs. Despite the fact that the vast majority of African slaves brought to the New World were taken to the Caribbean and Latin America, nowhere has the shame and educational focus on slavery and racism taken on such a life as in the post-Civil-Rights era United States.
The bottom line is that BLM now owns the narrative and the liberal American political machine cannot afford to alienate BLM supporters. This puts the movement in a singularly powerful position, with the ability to influence legislators, advise on policy, demand reforms, interrupt the economy and vote (or protest) politicians out of office. The future of BLM is that it is likely to continue growing and picking up worldwide momentum as it is echoed by international media as well as amplified by geopolitical adversaries such as China, Russia and Iran in order to subvert the United States and paint its society as a hellhole of racism, injustice and violence. Furthermore, the current economic uncertainty and unemployment coupled with growing economic inequality and the especially heavy impact of COVID-19 on America’s black community make it all the more likely that BLM will become a “catch-all” for the grievances of the disadvantaged. Demands to “abolish the police” and tackle systemic racism at every level (especially the imaginary level) will be cheered on by the Jamie Dimons and upper classes of America because they can afford private security and gated communities.
Who will be caught in between and suffer as a result of this informal collaboration between America’s liberal elites, global adversaries, economically disadvantaged people and victims of racism? You guessed it: working families, people of color, patriots and people who are actually suffering from the injustices that their enemies are exploiting and pretending to want to remedy by offering absurd solutions and never addressing root causes. Sadly, those being taken advantage of include many ardent supporters and activists within BLM, whose anger at injustice is only being used as a tool to manipulate political and economic debates. BLM is a revolution from the top down, and it’s only going to grow.