A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that more than two-thirds of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement. The high level of backing raises the question of how much the public knows about BLM.
On the surface, BLM presents itself as a grassroots movement dedicated to the noble tasks of fighting racism and police brutality. A deeper dive shows that BLM is a Marxist revolutionary movement aimed at transforming the United States — and the entire world — into a communist dystopia.
This is the first of a two-part series, which reveals:
BLM's founders openly admit to being Marxist ideologues. Their self-confessed mentors include former members of the Weather Underground, a radical "leftwing" terrorist group that sought to bring a communist revolution to the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. BLM is friendly with Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro, whose socialist policies have brought economic collapse and untold misery to millions of people there.
BLM states that it wants to abolish: the nuclear family; police and prisons; heteronormativity; and capitalism. BLM and groups associated with it are demanding a moratorium on rent, mortgages and utilities, and reparations for a long list of grievances. BLM leaders have threatened to "burn down the system" if their demands are not met. They are also training militias based on the militant Black Panther movement of the 1960s.
BLM, which is not registered as a non-profit organization for tax purposes, has raised tens of millions of dollars in donations. BLM's finances are opaque. BLM's donations are collected by ActBlue, a fundraising platform linked to the Democratic Party and causes associated with it. Indeed, BLM leaders have confirmed that their immediate goal is to remove U.S. President Donald J. Trump from office.
Most importantly, the main premise of BLM is based on a lie — namely that the United States is "at war" with African Americans. Blacks are not being systematically targeted by whites. Fifty years after the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, more than three in four Americans, including most whites and blacks, agreed that real progress has been made in getting rid of racial discrimination. Scholars have noted that BLM's inability to produce solid empirical evidence of systemic racism explains why its leaders continue to "broaden and deepen" the indictment to include the entire American social and political order.
BLM in its Own Words
"We actually do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia [Garza] in particular, we're trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super versed on ideological theories." — BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors, July 22, 2015.
"If this country doesn't give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it. All right? And I could be speaking figuratively. I could be speaking literally. It's a matter of interpretation.... I just want black liberation and black sovereignty, by any means necessary." — BLM activist Hank Newsome, June 25, 2020.
"Stay in the streets! The system is throwing every diversionary and de-mobilizing tactic at us. We are fighting to end policing and prisons as a system which necessitates fighting white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchal imperialism. Vet your comrades and stay focused." — BLM Chicago, Twitter, June 16, 2020.
"There's no such thing as 'blue lives.' There is no hue of a blue life. Being a police officer is an occupation. It's a job. 'All lives matter'— it's like saying the sky is blue. I haven't heard how police are on the right side of history." — BLM co-founder Alicia Garza, ktvu.com, March 30, 2018.
"It's hundreds of years of generational oppression and trauma and infrastructural racism that impacts our bodies and makes our bodies more vulnerable to something like a COVID-19." — BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors, Hollywood Reporter, June 2, 2020.
"We say #DefundThePolice and #DefundDepOfCorrections because they work in tandem. The rise of mass incarceration occurred alongside the rise of militarized and mass policing. They must be abolished as a system." — BLM Chicago, June 13, 2020.
"We are anti-capitalist. We believe and understand that Black people will never achieve liberation under the current global racialized capitalist system." — Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), of which BLM is a part, June 5, 2020.
"'All Lives Matter,' is little more than a racist dog whistle that attempts to both delegitimize centuries of claims of global anti-Black oppression and position those who exhibit tremendous pride in their Blackness as enemies of the state. Well, we are enemies of any racist, sexist, classist, xenophobic state that sanctions brutality and murder against marginalized people who deserve to live as free people." — Feminista Jones, BLM activist.
"We stand with Palestinian civil society in calling for targeted sanctions in line with international law against Israel's colonial, apartheid regime." — BLM UK, June 28, 2020.
"We are an ABOLITIONIST movement. We do not believe in reforming the police, the state or the prison industrial complex." — BLM UK, June 21, 2020.
"Yes, I think the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down. They are a form of white supremacy. Always have been. In the Bible, when the family of Jesus wanted to hide, and blend in, guess where they went? EGYPT! Not Denmark. Tear them down." — BLM leader Shaun King, June 22, 2020.
"We are living in political moment where for the first time in a long time we are talking about alternatives to capitalism." — Alicia Garza, BLM co-founder, March 2015.
"Anti-racism is anti-capitalist, and vice versa. There are no two ways around it. To be an anti-racist must demand a complete rejection of business as usual. An end to racism demands transformation of the global political-economic setup." — Joshua Virasami, BLM UK, June 8, 2020.
Black Lives Matter began in July 2013, when George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch coordinator of Hispanic-German descent, was acquitted of homicide charges in the 2012 fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black high school student, in Sanford, Florida.
Alicia Garza, a black woman from Oakland, California, posted to Facebook what she described as a "love letter to black folks." She wrote: "I continue to be surprised at how little black lives matter. Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter." Patrisse Cullors, a black woman from Los Angeles, California, then put Garza's Facebook post on Twitter, with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. After seeing the hashtag, Opal Tometi, a first-generation Nigerian American woman from Phoenix, Arizona, partnered with Garza and Cullors to establish an internet presence. Tometi purchased the domain name and built BLM's digital platform, including social media accounts, where they encouraged people to tell their stories.
The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter gained national attention in August 2014, after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer. The hashtag was ubiquitous during riots in November 2014, when a grand jury decided not to indict Wilson. By 2018, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter had been tweeted over 30 million times.
Since its beginnings seven years ago, Black Lives Matter has grown into a movement with nearly 40 chapters and thousands of activists in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. What began as an effort to seek justice for black people has become far more expansive — and more radical — in its demands.
What's the Agenda?
BLM's worldview is based on a mix of far-left theoretical frameworks, including critical race theory and intersectional theory. Critical race theory posits that racism is systemic, based on a system of white supremacy and therefore a permanent feature of American life. Intersectional theory asserts that people are often disadvantaged by multiple sources of oppression: their race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and other identity markers.
Black Lives Matter and other purveyors of critical race theory and intersectional theory reject individual accountability for behavior, criminal or otherwise, because, according to them, blacks are systemic and permanent victims of racism. Such racism, according to BLM, can only be defeated by completely dismantling the American economic, political and social system and rebuilding it from scratch — according to Marxist principles.
Black Lives Matter seeks to replace the foundational cornerstones of American society: 1) abolish the Judeo-Christian concept of the traditional nuclear family, the basic social unit in America; 2) abolish the police and dismantle the prison system; 3) mainstream transgenderism and delegitimize so-called heteronormativity (the belief that heterosexuality is the norm); and 4) abolish capitalism (a free economy) and replace it with communism (a government-controlled economy).
Abolish the Traditional Nuclear Family
In its policy agenda, Black Lives Matter states that it is committed to abolishing the traditional nuclear family:
"We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and 'villages' that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable."
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels rejected the traditional family because, according to them, the nuclear family, as an economic unit, sustains the capitalist system. Engels wrote: "The care and education of the children becomes a public affair; society looks after all children alike, whether they are legitimate or not."
Many experts have noted that African Americans need stronger, not weaker, families. In March 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then an Assistant Secretary of Labor under U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, wrote a groundbreaking report, which focused on the roots of black poverty in the United States. The report linked the many problems plaguing African Americans — crime, joblessness, school failure, out-of-wedlock births — to the breakdown of the traditional nuclear family.
When the Moynihan Report was written in 1965, 25% of black children in the United States were born out of wedlock. Fifty years later, in 2015, more than 75% of black children were born out of wedlock, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Twenty years after the Moynihan Report, Glenn Loury, the first black economist to earn tenure at Harvard University, lauded Moynihan as a prophet:
"The bottom stratum of the black community has compelling problems which can no longer be blamed solely on white racism, and which force us to confront fundamental failures in black society. The societal disorganization among poor blacks, the lagging academic performance of black students, the disturbingly high rate of black-on-black crime, and the alarming increase in early unwed pregnancies among blacks now loom as the primary obstacles to black progress."
Thomas Sowell, an African American economist and social theorist opined that the Moynihan Report of 1965 "may have been the last honest government report on race." By contrast, African American civil rights activists criticized Moynihan for "blaming the victim."
Abolish Police and Prisons
BLM states that it wants to "defund" and ultimately "abolish" police and prisons in the United States. Police officers would be replaced by educators, social workers, mental health experts and religious leaders, who, according to BLM, would bring down the levels of crime.
In an interview with Newsweek, BLM co-founder Cullors said:
"The freedom of mostly white affluent people is predicated on the unfreedom of black people. So, law enforcement is not actually used to keep black people safe. They're used to patrol, occupy, harass, abuse, often hunt and mostly, what we've seen is kill our communities.
"Policing and incarceration are part of a continuum. The policing is the first response and then incarceration is the last response. And these two systems rely on each other very, very deeply. We have to be working on getting rid of both systems."
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Cullors explained that she is not merely an activist but a modern-day abolitionist:
"An abolitionist believes in a world where police and prisons are no longer weaponized as a tool for public safety."
BLM co-founder Opal Tometi, in an interview with The New Yorker, claimed that policing in America has its roots in managing slavery and therefore is systemically racist. She explained:
"We have been fighting and advocating to stop a war on black lives. And that is how we see it — this is a war on black life. And people understand that this system is filled with all sorts of inequality and injustice, and that implicit bias and just outright racism is embedded in the way that policing is done in this nation — and when you think about it historically, it was founded as a slave patrol. The evolution of policing was rooted in that...."
Washington, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham has warned that underfunding police departments could cause an increase in excess force by police officers:
"The number one thing that contributes to excessive force in any police agency is when you underfund it. If you underfund a police agency, it impacts training, it impacts hiring, it impacts your ability to develop good leaders."
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the city's police union, said that budget cuts would be "extremely irresponsible":
"Cutting the LAPD budget means longer responses to 911 emergency calls, officers calling for backup won't get it, and rape, murder and assault investigations won't occur or will take forever to initiate, let alone complete."
Polls show that most Americans — including most blacks — do not share BLM's views on abolishing the police. A recent Rasmussen's report found that 63% of American adults "regard being a police officer as one of the most important jobs in our country today." Furthermore, 64% are concerned that the current anti-police sentiment will lead to fewer people willing to become police officers, and that it will "reduce public safety in the community where they live." Importantly, according to the Rasmussen report, "Blacks (67%) are the most concerned about public safety where they live, compared to 63% of whites and 65% of other minority Americans."
BLM's policy agenda states:
"We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender [a term for people whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth] privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence....
An academic study titled, "The 'Queering' of Black Lives Matter," describes in great detail how issues of sexual identity and gender orientation have taken priority over BLM's original focus on police brutality. The heavy focus on sexuality has led to accusations that BLM is "a gay movement masquerading as a black one."
Two of the three founders of BLM describe themselves as "black queer females." One, Alicia Garza, is married to a biracial transgender male. Patrice Cullors describes herself as "polyamorous." In interview after interview, Garza and Cullors raise the issue of "black trans and gender nonconforming people," often to the exclusion of police brutality.
In an interview with The New Yorker, Garza said that she is not interested in the American tradition of live and let live: "We want to make sure that people are not saying, 'Well, whatever you are, I don't care.' No, I want you to care. I want you to see all of me."
Abolish Capitalism and the "Patriarchal" System
BLM equates capitalism with racism in the same way that its Antifa cousins equate capitalism with fascism. BLM's views on capitalism are based on the concept of "racial capitalism," a term created by the late Cedric Robinson, who posited that capitalism and racism are two sides of the same coin: both are, according to Robinson, dependent on slavery, violence, imperialism, and genocide.
The British wing of Black Lives Matter UK states: "We're guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white-supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world."
The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), an "ecosystem" of over 170 Black-led organizations, including BLM, states:
"We are anti-capitalist: We believe and understand that Black people will never achieve liberation under the current global racialized capitalist system."
M4BL demands "a reconstruction of the economy to ensure Black communities have collective ownership" and "a progressive restructuring of tax codes at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure a radical and sustainable redistribution of wealth."
M4BL also demands reparations for past and continuing harms:
"The government, responsible corporations and other institutions that have profited off of the harm they have inflicted on Black people — from colonialism to slavery through food and housing redlining, mass incarceration, and surveillance — must repair the harm done. This includes:
"Full and free access for all Black people (including undocumented and currently and formerly incarcerated people) to lifetime education; a guaranteed minimum livable income for all Black people; reparations for the wealth extracted from our communities through environmental racism, slavery, food apartheid, housing discrimination and racialized capitalism."
The demands of BLM and M4BL are similar to those found in the Communist Manifesto, which include:
"Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes; A heavy progressive or graduated income tax; Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan."
BLM's Immediate Demand
BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors recently confirmed that the immediate goal is to remove U.S. President Donald J. Trump from office:
"Trump not only needs to not be in office in November, but he should resign now. Trump needs to be out of office. He is not fit for office. And so, what we are going to push for is a move to get Trump out. While we're also going to continue to push and pressure Joe Biden around his policies and relationship to policing and criminalization. That's going to be important. But our goal is to get Trump out."
Evaluations of BLM's Agenda
In an interview with Chanel Rion of One America News Network, Dr. Carol M. Swain, a university professor, public intellectual, and advisory board member of Black Voices for Trump, said:
"It's very clear to me that the Black Lives Matter organization is about something much bigger than black people, that it really is pushing a socialist, Marxist agenda.
"White people are so confused in America. I hate to say it like that but I don't know any other way to say it: They want to signal to black people that they care and the only way they feel like they can do that is to agree with the slogan, which is a true statement, that black lives matter in the same way that all lives matter. White lives matter, brown lives matter, but they can't separate the slogan, which is a true statement, from an organization that has a goal that I believe is ultimately destructive to America.
"There is something very wrong when they argue that racism is permanent. If it's permanent, then there is nothing you can do about it. That white skin is property that means that people who just happen to have been born white they have property that gives them advantages over blacks.
"If there is systematic racism today it is a racism against white people, in the sense that white people are told that they are responsible for all the evils in the world, that racism is permanent, and the only way they can redeem themselves is by divesting themselves of their whiteness. It involves a shaming of young white people, if you have white skin you're supposed to have all these white privileges. I contend that there is black privilege, brown privilege, that it's really about social class. The sooner we get away from defining everything, even the police brutality, as racism, the sooner we can bring everyone together as Americans.
"We are all human beings in God's image. Black Lives Matter and Antifa and organizations like that will not help us transcend racism and classism and the isms that they are concerned with. There are things that can be done in the black community, but the most important thing is helping people realize to how important their own attitudes are. I would argue that a person's attitudes are more important than race, gender, social class in determining whether or not they are going to be successful."
Columnist Josh Hammer wrote that the American system of governance and way of life is under existential threat by groups such as BLM and Antifa:
"The modern left, in thrall to the anarchists of Antifa and the Marxists of Black Lives Matter, has positioned itself as a political movement that stands athwart the American regime. At an institutional level, Democratic Party leadership is increasingly a dog wagged by the tail that is Antifa and Black Lives Matter. And that tail, as is openly conceded in moments of candor, is resolutely opposed to the idea of America itself. There is no alternative way to comprehend the ardent desire of those insurrectionists who, channeling the very worst of Mao's Cultural Revolution, would deface and demolish societal tributes to the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence (Jefferson) and the man who brought to fruition its ideals (Lincoln). Could we ask for a more clarion demonstration of the dripping disdain with which the left views the entire American project?
"We are now in the midst of a cold civil war between Americanists, proud defenders and preservers of the American regime and way of life, and the civilizational arsonists who seek to burn that regime and way of life into the ether. Yes, we are in a fight for America's soul — but we are also in a fight for America itself."
Part II of this series will examine BLM's ideological influences, its activities and its sources of funding.