August 13, 2020

Saints Edward Media

For Peace and Order

Black Lives Matter: A Grassroots Protest, or a Well-funded Political Movement?

 

Black Lives Matter (BLM for short) has been the recent focal point in American, and even global, politics alongside the Coronavirus pandemic and international quarantines.  As we live through the fears and regulations surrounding the Chinese-born virus, we are hit with a surprisingly powerful political movement that has brought death, injury, rioting and destruction of property, and a seemingly iconoclastic eye towards the desecration of statues, monuments, churches, and memorials. What are the roots and aims of this movement? Many are told this is simply a grassroots response to the police killing of George Floyd, and police brutality in general, a spontaneous movement borne out of the collective frustration with the system of policing and the way governments around the world operate. No doubt, the quarantine in response to the virus has caused further stress and anxiety, loss of lives, jobs, businesses, and our normal lives, all adding fuel to the fire of unrest. Is it all coincidence though? Is this movement an organic response to certain stressors, or a coordinated coup on a global level?

First, we ought to look at how this group, known as Black Lives Matter, was started. The movement started in 2013 with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter after a black teenager, Trayvon Martin was shot in an altercation by a half-hispanic, half-white neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman was acquitted of any wrongdoing on account that the court found he acted in self defense. Nevertheless, an organization that now wants to abolish the police and end “systemic racism” has its roots in an incident involving a man who was not a cop, and only half white. Of course, BLM would argue that Martin was innocent and was shot simply for being black, despite the evidence to the contrary. The name Black Lives Matter itself is an assertion that black people don’t matter to Americans, especially the police, regardless of their race, or white people more broadly. They say that America continues to uphold and enforce systems of oppression and racial supremacy, and the main evidence for this are cases where police or vigilantes have killed black people. The fact that most black homicides are committed by other black people, or that black police officers are statistically just as or more likely to use lethal force against a black person than a white officer, are derided as distracting from the important work of bringing justice and change to the country. Questions of why black men in particular are so much more likely to be involved in crime, or to resist arrest, and in many cases attack police officers, are likewise regarded as racist questions to be asking. If they want to make a solid case for their claims that society and the police uphold white supremacy, these are important facts to be considered, and dodging the question or responding with ad hominem attacks, like being called a racist, does not bode well for the veracity of the position they argue for. There is plenty of information about use of force by police as well as hate crimes in the U.S. collected by the FBI and other agencies and I won’t dwell on the details here. Of note, though, considering the charge that America is a white supremacist country, is that why non-hispanic white americans makeup about 60% of the U.S. population, they only commit 30% of all hate crimes, and black Americans, about 13% of the population, commit 24% of all hate crimes?This is not to say that black Americans are, as a group, racist or bigoted, but if you want to charge all white Americans with racism or supremacy, you would think the numbers might bear that out, and they certainly do not. You can try to make claims about individual feelings towards other races, but again, you will find that white Americans have the lowest racial in-group preference — a strong indicator of supremacist feelings — of any ethnicity.

 

Black Lives Matter took the stage again in the spring of 2020 after the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. Despite the police officers being of four different ethnicities, and only one white officer, this was again a “proof” for white supremacy in America and the police departments nationwide in particular. Following his death, protests were organized around the country and around the western world against systemic racism (from whites) and in support of the defunding and/or abolishing of police departments. Despite the fact that these protests were rallying around the worth of black lives, a number of black lives have been lost in the ensuing riots and chaos, including black police officers and even two confirmed black men killed in the “cop-free” Seattle Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. So far, it is fair to say that while BLM has cost black families the lives of their relatives, it has yet to save any black lives. It has destroyed black neighborhoods and businesses, is that the change they were looking for? 

BLM is not a movement about protecting the dignity and worth of black lives, if that were the real priority they wouldn’t support abortion which kills around half a million black babies per year — compare that to the roughly ten unarmed black men shot by police per year. They also choose to focus on black men killed by police, rather than the roughly 2,500 black men shot by other black men per year. Again, compare that to the 235 black men shot by police in 2019, of which the vast majority had a weapon. I don’t want to imply here that all police killings are justified, or don’t matter, but if this movement is truly just about saving black lives then eliminating the police wouldn’t be the priority. We all know that isn’t the aim of the movement, they themselves are clear about that. This is a movement against the police, but if that was their marketing, well —  people wouldn’t buy it. 

So who is in charge of this movement? While the movement is not centrally organized into a formal power structure, it does have many important figures within it. Let’s look at the co-founders: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi.

Alicia Garza is a full-time activist and co-founder of BLM. She is of African and Jewish descent, and identifies as Jewish according to Wikipedia. Garza started her activist career as a teenager promoting sex education and birth control in schools. She later came out as queer to her family and married a transgender man, Malachi Garza. She holds a B.A. in sociology and anthropology. In a speech at San Francisco State University she said: 

We, I, you and me – we owe everything to black women…This is about black women, cisgender, transgender, no gender, disabled, queer, immigrant black women who time and time again keep trying to tell y’all and more than that… keep showing y’all. We are magic.” 

Garza works full-time in training future generations of activists and promoting political movements. She supported Bernie Sanders and endorsed Elizabeth Warren. She also was inaugurated into the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity, a group “focused on challenging racism in the U.S. and South Africa and disrupting the rise of white nationalism and supremacy.” Following the land seizure, violence, and murder of white South Africans, one could say they are well on their way to “ending white supremacy” and creating a more fair and just country. 

Patrisse Cullors, another BLM co-founder, focuses her activism on abolishing the entire prison system. She also identifies as a queer activist, and while raised a Jehovah’s Witness, she now practices the Nigerian Yoruba religion of Ifá which focuses on divination. She teaches at Otis College of Art and Design and Prescott College. She also endorsed Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. She is married to another activist, Janaya Khan, a female, who identifies as queer and gender non-conforming and is an amateur boxer. 

In an interview with The Real News Network — a black activist podcast — Cullors said:

“The first thing, I think, is that we actually do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia [Garza] in particular are trained organizers…We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories.” I’m not putting any words in her mouth here, by her own admission, BLM was founded by Marxist activists and it’s no conspiracy theory to say so. 

The third co-founder, Opal Tometi was born of Nigerian immigrant parents and holds many prestigious degrees including a B.A. in History from the University of Arizona, a Masters in Communication and Advocacy from Arizona State University, and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Clarkson University. According to Clarkson University, she received her honorary Doctor of Science for “her devotion to this nation’s shared egalitarian ideals; for encouraging communication as a means to overcome challenges; for building coalitions that value the contributions of workers, immigrants and families; and for her tireless work as an organizer of opportunities for all.” It is unclear at the time of writing what her contributions to the field of science are. She is credited with running social media for the BLM movement. 

And who funds this movement? Is it simply a bunch of concerned citizens voicing their opinions to the public, or a coordinated movement with its own political aims? The decentralized nature of BLM makes it harder to track donations, but there are some key players. Democracy Alliance has donated over $200,000. They were “created in 2005 by a handful of major donors, including billionaire financier George Soros and Taco Bell heir Rob McKay to build a permanent infrastructure to advance liberal ideas and causes.”

George Soros’ own Open Society Foundation also donated over $33 million to BLM: 

“more than $33 million in grants to the Black Lives Matter movement from top Democratic Party donor George Soros through his Open Society Foundations, as well as grant-making from the Center for American Progress.” This was part of a larger campaign from the Ford Foundation: “The Ford Foundation and Borealis Philanthropy recently announced the formation of the Black-Led Movement Fund [BLMF], a six-year pooled donor campaign aimed at raising $100 million for the Movement for Black Lives coalition.”

The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation chipped in $12 million, many from small individual contributions “The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation said on Wednesday that it is setting aside $6 million from money the group received in donations to support black-led grassroots organizing groups. Last week, the foundation unveiled a separate $6.5 million fund for its network of affiliate chapters.”

Jason Hammond, in coordination with various activists raised $75,000 to pay for bail bonds: “Jason Hammond walked into Chicago’s Cook County Jail last month with a stack of cashier’s checks totaling $75,000.”

Celebrities, such as Chrissy Teigen, who donated $200,000 to pay for bail bonds of jailed rioters, as well as “Actors Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, and Don Cheadle, as well as singers Janelle Monáe Kehlani and Noname, have also contributed to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, each giving $1,000, according to their tweets.”

The Minnesota Freedom Fund and Louisville Community Bail Fund have also seen a surge in donations, including many prominent American celebrities and artists. 

And the list goes on, while the movement definitely has a large grassroots base, it’s far from an amateur production. The movement is well funded, and was started by self-identifying Marxist activists whose aims could hardly be described as mainstream. When they call for things like abolishing the police or ending “white supremacy”, are they really just hopeful — if naive — idealists, or people with an agenda, resources, and training to push radical political ideologies further into mainstream discourse and politics? I think the evidence speaks for itself. Those who support it, whether passively, through voting for Democrats, or actively, with funding and protesting should take a careful look at what this movement is promoting and why. Although most Americans would like to see an end to racial injustices and discrimination, something the country has made much progress on, I very much doubt that most people, left or right, would like to see a Marxist revolution, the destruction of history, Christianity, the family, and society as we know it. This movement pushes people to pick sides very clearly, and you should know who you stand with and what the future of America will be — for you, and your children. May God help us all.

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