This multi-part series (Part I here) focuses on the perspectives of blacks — conservative, liberal or libertarian — who appraise Black Lives Matter and its agenda. The following selection of commentary by blacks from all walks of life — actors, athletes, businesspeople, civil rights activists, clergy, commentators, physicians and politicians — demonstrates that black public opinion is not monolithic, and that BLM does not speak for all African Americans.
Leo Terrell, civil rights attorney and lifelong Democrat, in a television interview:
"Black Lives Matter is disingenuous. Why? Because there are only certain black lives that they care about. What about that retired black officer, David Dorn? A black man murdered while defending a business [in St. Louis, Missouri]. I didn't see Black Lives Matter there. It's certain blacks that they care about to profiteer the black community....
"The Democratic leadership is afraid of Black Lives Matter for a variety of reasons. One is the most insulting. They assume they speak for African Americans. Let me be clear. Black Lives Matter does not speak for Leo Terrell. There is no monolithic group like Black Lives Matter that speaks for African Americans. We are individuals and we have our own individual opinions.
"I can assure you, those African Americans in these Democratic cities, they want law and order. That's the goal post — police — between the criminal and a safe neighborhood. What Black Lives Matter has done is hijacked the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party has remained silent, fearing that they will alienate mainstream blacks. Trust me, Democratic leadership: You won't alienate mainstream black voters. But the BLM leadership has controlled the platform for the Democratic Party as we speak.
"This is why BLM are basically, in my opinion, profiteers. They are profiting on trying to give a narrative, a false narrative, that is: 'white racist cops are destroying the black community.' You point out Chicago. No BLM presence walking through the neighborhood protesting black-on-black crime. You know why? Because it is not profitable. There is no money to be made.
"As a civil rights attorney, I know that there may be one or two percent of bad cops, but 98% — they're great. When you talk about Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, DC and Los Angeles, this [is a] big lie of systemic discrimination. How can you have systemic discrimination in Chicago when the leadership is minority? This is not the 1960s. This is 2020. It's not like it was 50 years ago. Black Lives Matter and the Democratic leadership want you to think its 1960. I'm sick of that narrative."
Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Allen West, former U.S. Congressman for Florida, wrote:
"I do not need to 'qualify' my being Black based upon some pre-determined ideological agenda. I was raised to believe that I was an individual who could think and believe as I determined. I was taught that America is a place where regardless of where you were born, where you came from, there was an equality of opportunity.
"That equality of opportunity has enabled me to attain immense success for myself and set the conditions for the success of my two daughters. My wife Angela, an accomplished former marketing professor and financial adviser, and I now teach our daughters about the perils of equality of outcomes, and those who cleverly disguise that intent within the cries of social justice.
"With this being stated, I am tired of our Nation cowering, appeasing, acquiescing, and surrendering to this absurd organization calling itself Black Lives Matter (BLM). There is nothing true or sincere about this ideologically aligned progressive socialist, cultural Marxist organization.
"BLM is just another leftist organization created by the same ilk of progressive socialists who created the NAACP. When one reviews the goals and objectives of BLM, they have nothing to do with the real issues facing the Black community in America. The focus of BLM is to cleverly advance the leftist ideological agenda under the guise of a witty name that forces people into guilt, shame....
"I am tired of these businesses and corporations being shaken down by BLM to the tune of some $464M, $50M right here in my home of Texas. Why?
"Black Lives Matter does not support the critical civil rights issue of this day. The major civil rights issue in America today is educational freedom. How many young black kids are relegated to failing public schools in failing neighborhoods? Where does BLM stand on that issue? They stand with the progressive socialist left and the teachers unions. Ask yourself, has BLM ever condemned the action of Barack Obama in April 2009 to cancel the DC school voucher program?
"Yesterday was Father's Day. How many young black kids are growing up without a father in the house, a strong positive role model, like my Dad, US Army Corporal Herman West Sr.? The policies of the progressive socialist left decimated the traditional two parent household in the black community. What does BLM say about the traditional, nuclear, two parent (man and woman) household? They say that is a tool of white supremacy.
"I could go on, but I think you get my point. Black Lives Matter is an oxymoronic and disingenuous organization. As a proud American Black Man, I find Black Lives Matter an offensive and condescending organization whose hypocrisy is blatantly evident. Yet, thanks to the lucrative support of the white progressive socialist collective elitists, it survives, and extorts financial support from the useful idiots in our corporate structure.
"All lives matter, but this radical organization, Black Lives Matter, is the ultimate Trojan Horse. The consistent purveyors of systemic racism in America is the Democrat Party. They have smartly devised this organization to enable their ends, the proliferation of the 21st century economic plantation. Black Lives Matter serves as overseers on this plantation, stoking the irrational emotionalism and angst to support their agenda, their purpose.
"What is the purpose? Simple. The new plantation of the left is not about producing cotton. It is about creating victims who will be dependent and produce the new crop — votes."
Dr. Eric Wallace, President of the Illinois-based Freedom's Journal Institute for the Study of Faith and Public Policy, wrote:
"In my lifetime I have seen many organizations and movements pull at the heartstrings of the African American community. In 1995 it was the Million Man March calling on black men to atone for their failings. Today, it is the Black Lives Matter movement that draws our attention and concern. Who of African descent can disagree with the idea that black lives matter?... How could I not be interested in this movement? How could we not be concerned about the young black men dying at what seems to be an alarming rate at the hands of police officers and gang violence? ...
"The BLM website specifically identifies itself with the black liberation movement.... The differences between the Civil Rights Movement and the black liberation movement are significant. While the Civil Rights Movement was led by ministers, many of whom held a biblical worldview and infused their protests with prayer, the black liberation movement was associated with the Black Panthers, Angela Davis, and Marxist ideology. Unfortunately, today's civil right leaders have largely abandoned a biblical worldview....
"While BLM claims to seek justice for oppressed and victimized persons around the world, they fail to address.... the deaths of young African American males from gang violence in their list of social injustices. Apparently, what matters most to BLM is ideology....
"Because BLM gets the causes wrong, it gets the solutions wrong as well. Whereas BLM sees white supremacy and institutional racism as the causes of the poverty and violence that afflict the black community, conservatives view the causes as bad governmental practices and policies. Most conservatives have long argued that liberal public policies have 'systemically targeted' the black family. Blacks have been 'deprived of their human rights and dignity' through government largess, which has perpetuated poverty and destroyed the black family. In other words, the 'state' has committed violence against black people.
"The very liberal social agenda embraced by 'progressives' who pursue bigger, more intrusive government continues to harm the lives of blacks. For example, here in Illinois, the economy and public school system, shaped for decades by liberals and liberal policy, are among the worst in the nation. Whose lives are harmed most directly and significantly by our terrible economy and government schools? Black lives.
"According to BLM, 'black liberation' can be achieved only by reversing the roles of master and slave. The tragic truth is that the policies sought by BLM only serve to keep the black community enslaved. The freedom BLM proposes is not freedom at all. It is slavery under a different master. It calls on black Christians who are already free in Christ to abandon their freedom for black solidarity, which for the Christian is a form of idolatry. The politics of BLM is the politics of racial grievance, a tool used to manipulate both blacks and whites alike....
"The politics of racial grievance trigger an emotional response that ultimately shuts down logical inquiry or debate, rendering people vulnerable to emotional manipulation. It is designed to exploit whites and blacks alike. In whites, it creates guilt for segregation, Jim Crow laws, and slavery even though systemic racism was defeated decades ago. The politics of racial grievance is intended to make whites feel guilty so that they'll make concessions to black leadership, funding the programs and activities sanctioned by black leaders.
"The politics of racial grievance works on black people too. It galvanizes black solidarity behind a cause, including causes unworthy of black allegiance. The idea is that if anyone should be "down with the cause," black people should, and if you're not, you're a sell-out, an Uncle Tom. Black people are expected to support black causes, period. No questions asked....
"The dubious goal of the politics of racial grievance exploited by BLM and others is to finance their causes. Thus, in order to advance their agendas, they have to come up with a negative narrative regardless of its veracity. The story must pull on the heartstrings of blacks to ensure solidarity and of whites to keep them feeling guilty and compliant. Hence, the false narrative that 'Blacks are being gunned down by white cops' excites those who have been conditioned to accept the claim regardless of its factual accuracy."
Herman Cain, the late Republican presidential candidate and former American business executive, in an interview with Fox News, said:
"I would characterize Black Lives Matter as working on the wrong problem. The right problem is black-on-black crime.... The economic boom of the 1990s caused black poverty to go down. That's what caused more black people to get jobs. This is the message that Black Lives Matter movement does not get. When everything gets better for everybody things get better for black people. You don't need a special program and you don't need pandering. Just realize what the big issues are that are going to help all of America."
Cain, on Facebook, added: "Black Lives Matter protesters are not above the law. They need to be held accountable."
Herschel Walker, an American football legend, in a television interview, said:
"I saw a bunch of people holding a 'BLM' sign burning the Holy Bible, flag of the United States of America and a cross. I started thinking, NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB — is this the people you're supporting right now?' Is it the movement? Is it the organization? Because I don't think that's right.... People, are we being fooled?"
"It hurts because we're the greatest country in the world and they're taking a knee on the United States. Do we have our problems? Yes, we do. Can we solve them? Yes, we can."
Leonydus Johnson, actor, wrote:
"Race is back as the focus in the national conversation and the 'America is racist' narrative has been revived with a fury. And with it, America seems to have completely lost its collective mind. I have spent a lot of time thinking about where we need to go from here. I admit, it has been extremely frustrating seeing so many people so willingly embrace these racial narratives that drive nothing but enmity. Those who know me know that I am passionate about helping move our society into a post-racial era, where the weight of a person's skin color weighs no heavier on identity than their hair color or eye color. That doesn't mean abandoning your heritage, abandoning your culture, or erasing your ancestry. What it means is that we can't just pick and choose what pieces of history we want to claim and disregard the rest. It means recognizing that the history of this country, both good and bad, belongs to all of us. It means we do not take credit for the good and do not take blame for the bad. We embrace it all as a part of who we are. All of us. And we learn from it and we move forward together. Not as black people or white people or any separate group of people, but as Americans.
"However, we now find ourselves in a place that I feel is the antithesis of the Civil Rights Movement. Instead of marching toward a world that deemphasizes the importance of skin color, we instead find ourselves pursuing a world where skin color is placed firmly and proudly at the forefront of identity, where Martin Luther King's idea of judging people by the content of their character takes a decided backseat to a person's ancestry, a world where white people must apologize and atone for sins that they never committed and black people claim victimhood for horrors that they never experienced, where race, itself, is used as a weapon and people with a certain skin color are dehumanized, seen as little more than the racial group they belong to, and treated as if they are impersonal cogs in a machine, cogs who must be reshaped, reworked, or destroyed all together in order to improve society. It is the exact thing the Civil Rights Movement aimed to defeat. And now we resurrect it with fervor and herald the pursuit as noble.
"The point is a simple one. You can't fight racism with racism. When people are getting fired from their jobs, having their lives upended and their reputations destroyed due to assumptions, assumptions that are based solely on the race of the person in question, how is that different from what people claim to be fighting against? When you riot and destroy property and multiple people get killed in the process, who has received justice? Where was racism defeated? When you advocate for separatism and then announce that white people are fully responsible for everything that happens to them and everything happens to other people but that black people are too weak and inferior in society to be held responsible for what happens to them, where is the empowerment? We are going backward.
"At what point do we become responsible for ourselves? When do I say that my choices and behaviors determine my outcomes? When is an individual accountable for his own destiny? When do you start seeing yourself and others as individuals instead of some abstract group classification? I have been reading Shelby Steele lately and I currently reading his book, "White Guilt," which is a great book and I highly recommend it. But in his book he talks about how if a black kid is bad at dribbling a basketball, there are no claims of racism or history of slavery to explain his dribbling deficiencies. The kid must work hard and improve and nobody makes excuses for him. He will fail or succeed by his own merit. However, if that same kid struggles with reading and writing, the race intellectuals will swoop in and claim that he is not responsible for these failures and that his struggles are a direct result of systemic racism. How is it that we have developed a mentality that black kids are perfectly capable of succeeding in sports or music if they work hard enough and take responsibility for themselves, but that they cannot possibly succeed academically unless white people are benevolent enough to allow them to?
"We need to find it in ourselves to be responsible for our own behavior, to be responsible for our own choices, and to own, not only our successes, but our failures as well. It's well past time to let go of this perpetual hostile attribution bias where it is constantly assumed without evidence that a person's behavior is motivated by racial animus. And we need to forever abandon this idea that we are somehow responsible for the sins of our ancestors. We have to stop elevating the group over the individual. We must let go of race as the primary aspect of our identity, as an automatic indicator of guilt, or as a deflector of personal responsibility. It is time to emphasize the individual and recognize the unique combination of traits that span the spectrum of human variation. It's time to learn from the past and then Let. It. Go. It's time we embrace the true essence of the Civil Right Movement and abolish this asinine importance we place on skin color, begin treating each other like individual human beings instead of an arbitrary group, and move forward together as one people. As Americans. Americans who can accomplish anything that they want to. That's true progress."
Johnson also tweeted:
"I ask them [BLM] why 1 criminal dying at the hands of police is more important for them to focus on than 70 children being killed? I ask why they would prioritize 15 unarmed shooting deaths, almost all of which are justified, over thousands of black lives lost to street violence.
"I want to know why they allow BLM to focus on other things that have nothing to do with police, like transgender ideology, while ignoring street violence.
"I want to know why they don't acknowledge that homicide is the leading cause of death of young black males. And they are almost invariably killed by other black people."
Vernon Jones, American Democratic politician from the U.S. state of Georgia, said:
"We give literally millions of dollars to universities and nonprofit groups to go out and, dig, dig and dig and pull up symbols and statues of the past so we can learn about it. But here we are in 2020 and we're tearing them down. What are kids gonna know about come 2030 that those statues are gone....
"This President [Donald J. Trump] has tried to work across the aisle, and he has to continue to try to work across the aisle.... Clearly, Democrats have not come out and denounced a lot of these rioters and protesters who are hiding behind Black Lives Matter. I'm beginning to wonder. Do black lives matter to Black Lives Matter? ...
"There's so many different groups from Antifa to others being funded by George Soros and these left-wing groups who really want to get rid of religion, too. But they have infiltrated Black Lives Matter, and then when you look at the originality or I should say the, the real purpose of Black Lives Matter is to push a transgender agenda now that's where they want to go. Fine. I have no problem with that. But all lives should matter. Clearly, black lives should be valued just as much as any life....
"If a white police officer kills a black person, then there's massive demonstrations and rioting. But what about when blacks kill blacks like the little eight-year-old girl [Secoriea Turner, who was shot and killed on July 4 in Atlanta]? That was not a police officer. What about him in St. Louis when that former police chief [Captain David Dorn], who was doing his job of guarding a pawnshop of a friend or client and was gunned down on the streets of St. Louis, not by white officers?"
"Where was the outrage from Black Lives Matter? Chicago, last weekend, what, some 14 people killed, including a 3-year-old, and maybe a 13-year-old. This past week in Philadelphia 87 shootings and I think about 14 deaths on a Saturday night. This is not President Trump's fault. There's an issue at the local level too where local leadership is not doing what they need to do, Sara."
Terry Crews, actor, tweeted:
"Defeating White supremacy without White people creates Black supremacy. Equality is the truth. Like it or not, we are all in this together."
"Any Black person who calls me a coon or and Uncle Tom for promoting EQUALITY is a Black Supremist, because they have determined who's Black and who is not."
Ryan Scott Bomberger, author and co-founder of the Virginia-based The Radiance Foundation, a non-profit group focused on promoting the dignity of human life, wrote:
"I'm tired of seeing fellow evangelicals mistake capitulation for compassion. We can rally for racial justice...any kind of justice, without embracing a fundamentally dishonest political movement. We will never defeat injustice, when and where it really happens, by the unjust power of a lie.
"We can mourn the loss of innocent lives — white, black and every hue in between. We can work to improve communities ravaged by daily violence with our prayers, our presence, and our partnerships. We must defy the destructive narrative spewed by a reckless and irresponsible media establishment that regurgitates a black nationalist, disturbingly Marxist worldview in the guise of a new civil rights movement. Let's move beyond a hashtag that has been used to bludgeon and use words that speak life and affirm our equal, and irreplaceable, worth as human beings who happen to be beautifully adorned with different pigmentation."
Larry Elder, radio talk show host and bestselling author, in an interview with Salem Radio, said:
"America certainly is not racist, in the sense that racism as a factor has never been more insignificant in American life. You can be what you want to be to the greatest degree today than at any time possible and you know who knows that? Barack Obama. Because when Barack Obama gives a commencement address at Howard University, he says that if you could be born at any time, anywhere, where would it be and when would it be, he said that it would be here and now. And this is a guy whose last name is Obama, born in Hawaii, middle name Hussein, knocks off Hillary Clinton and beats John McCain. And he believes racism is a major problem in America? Nonsense...."
Dr. Carol M. Swain, former professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, 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."