This multi-part series (Part I here, Part II here) focuses on the perspectives of blacks — conservative, liberal or libertarian — who appraise BLM 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.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author and research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, wrote:
"Outrage is the natural response to the brutal killing of George Floyd. Yet outrage and clear, critical thinking seldom go hand in hand. An act of police brutality became the catalyst for a revolutionary mood. Protests spilled over into violence and looting. Stores were destroyed; policemen and civilians injured and killed. The truism 'black lives matter' was joined by a senseless slogan: 'Defund the police.' ....
"I have no objection to the statement 'black lives matter.' But the movement that uses that name has a sinister hostility to serious, fact-driven discussion of the problem it purports to care about. Even more sinister is the haste with which academic, media and business leaders abase themselves before it. There will be no resolution of America's many social problems if free thought and free speech are no longer upheld in our public sphere. Without them, honest deliberation, mutual learning and the American problem-solving ethic are dead."
Robert L. Woodson, veteran civil rights activist, in a television interview, said:
"They [BLM] are trying to trade on the moral authority of the civil rights movement. During the civil rights movement, we had standards of both character and behavior as to who could participate in the marches, and when people came in and were disruptive with their own agenda, we expelled them.
"In the beginning there were peaceful protesters but at the moment those anarchists began to mingle in with them [BLM], and the fact that the peaceful protesters refused to challenge some of these anarchists, it means they are therefore complicit in the actions they are taking.
"Unfortunately, with this assault on the police, it has resulted in nullification, which means that police are not enforcing the laws aggressively in black communities — which is resulting in this huge spike in violent deaths in these communities.
"They are abandoning all pretense that this is about social justice. It is about using the black community and the conditions of our racial past, appropriating it so that the left can use it to promote insurrection in our cities.
"In my old neighborhood in West Philadelphia, they burned down a Walmart, they also burned down a huge food market that employed ex-offenders. How do you justify the destruction in the black community in the name of promoting social justice for blacks? That's ludicrous. They have desecrated the 54th Regiment Memorial in Boston, they've knocked down the statue of Frederick Douglas in Rochester, New York. Is Dr. Martin Luther King's statue next? It is not about social justice."
Niger Innis, spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality, when asked about BLM, said:
"They take their instructions, their guidance from the Marxist playbook. Look, I'm going to tell some hard truths that people aren't going to want to hear.
"The BLM movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, was founded by Alicia Garza and a number of other co-founders that were promoting a hard Marxist and LGBT agenda. Look, I don't have a problem with people exercising their First Amendment rights. You have the right to organize, you have the right to protest, you have the right to come up with an agenda. But I'll be goddamned if you use the suffering and misery of black Americans and our legacy to the United States of America as your shield and use us as cannon fodder when your agenda really has not a damn thing to do with saving black lives.
"If you look at their agenda — defunding the police — that would put black lives in danger. But it's even more than that. They have as a part of their platform on their own website that they want to disrupt — disrupt! — the Western-prescribed nuclear family. [This has since been removed from the BLM website, but not necessarily from the agenda. Ed.]
"We all know that black Americans — not just African Americans, Americans period — that are doing well are best when they come out of a traditional nuclear family. They seek to systematically disrupt that.
"They want to overthrow capitalism, they want to overthrow Western civilization and they see America as the biggest clear and present danger to fulfilling that agenda and using black people to do it.
"It is so gross, and for all of these corporations... that give a dollar or millions of dollars to the BLM agenda, they are destroying black lives. You want to talk about anti-black supremacy, that's the anti-black supremacy that's taking place.
"The irony is that it's the illusion of black supremacy and the reality of a Marxist agenda that will bury all of us."
Burgess Owens, retired professional football player, current congressional candidate, said:
"We are at a very clear crossroads in our country. We have one vision that says we the people are empowered by education, and we will give that power to the people. The other side wants to empower themselves by stealing our education, stealing our history. Which should not be a surprise, for those who can go to Google, you will find out that BLM is nothing but a Marxist organization.
"They hate God, they hate the family unit, the nuclear family, and they hate capitalism, so of course they are going to feel this way.
"We are a hundred days now into all this mayhem and death. Black business owners are going out of business. Black people are being killed in the streets of Chicago across the board. It is time that good people do their homework. If you are not able to get past emotions and go to Google and find out who you are supporting, then you are complicit. We do not need pity and guilt. What we need is courage and some backbone. Our country needs to stand up. The black community needs to have people who understand our history and do not feel sorry for us but give us the opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness. We have organizations like BLM and Antifa, that are arms of the Democratic Party, they are dressed in black and wear masks because they are cowards and bullies and they destroy everything they touch, including the black community.
"We need to fight for our country against these Marxists and these bullies and cowards that are destroying everything they touch. We cannot stand by and let this happen."
Horace Cooper, author and Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, in a radio interview, said:
"The implication of the phrase 'black lives matter' is that we need to be reminded that that is the case. That is simply not true. It is not true that in 2020 that the American people broadly are unconcerned about black Americans or brown Americans or any other group of Americans. We have a network of statutes and resources signed both at the federal level and in every single state to make sure that when there is discrimination, when there is mistreatment, that there are efforts to bear to prevent that from occurring or from recurring, whether you are talking about voting or employment or education. It is simply not true — with the nearly $2 trillion spent since the Great Society to assist Americans, and particularly black Americans, who have had housing issues, who have had education issues, who have had food access issues — it's simply not true that all of those resources haven't been expended when in fact they have.
"Here is the real truth: America has accepted the idea that every person who is a citizen of the United States ought to be considered equal before the law. BLM is asking for something different: that black people should receive better treatment than other citizens. That black people should receive different racial treatment than other citizens. They say it's to make up for the injustices and evils of the past. That is a bad theory and it is a masquerade today to pretend it's about encouraging and promoting equality when in fact all eyes demonstrate it's not.
"I welcome all Americans who are of good will, who say we want to make sure that all Americans continue to have that access — and in large degree a number of Americans, a number of companies, a number of leaders, have all responded in order to say that if it appears that I have been indifferent, if it appears that I have not understood, I want to make a special effort to say that's not true — those people, those organizations, those companies are actually being duped when an organization [BLM], which is not interested in free enterprise, which is not interested in the American experiment, which is not interested in equality, is promoting its idea as if there are actual, real, legitimate reasons that we should have a national conversation about race relations in America.
"What we see are a few committed Socialists, committed Marxists, who have worked with George Soros and have worked with other organizations that are both anti-Semitic as well as anti-free enterprise and they have been creating, using PR firms, all manner of mechanisms, social media as a way to highlight a very, very interesting and intriguing message.
"I'm not hostile to the idea that black lives matter, and I think most Americans are not hostile, but I do think there should be a better name of the organization and its purposes. Hundreds of thousands, millions, tens of millions, maybe even a hundred million dollars have been collected without any reporting requirements, without any justification for what these resources are going to go toward. BLM should stand for 'Black Lies Matter.' The lie is that in 2020 that the reason, if you are black and you look around and say 'I don't have a new truck in my front yard,' 'wait a second, my kids are not going to Yale University,' 'wait a second, I'm not the president of the local manufacturing company,' that the reason for that is because of racial bigotry: that is a lie. It's simply not true. In fact, there are ten times as many white Americans who can look around and say, 'I don't have a new pickup truck in my front yard,' 'my kid is not going to Yale University,' and 'I am not the president of a manufacturing firm.' That's not evidence of bigotry, it is not evidence of systemic assault.
"What a rule of law regime requires is that you identify the person who injured you, you show that the injury was unjust, and you hold them accountable for what they did. The Black Lives Matter motto is, 'we don't need no stinkin' person to identify, we don't need any actual incident we can point to, we just put our hand down and ask for the American people, and particularly not just those who give charitably, particularly taxpayers, to fill our coffers.' That is not the American system and that is in part why this group in fact is so dangerous."
Cooper, in a television interview, added:
"This entire summer, all I have witnessed has been a systematic effort to get black Americans ginned up with this idea that — instead of a rule of law, instead of a legal process — we're going to let the mob decide how things are done.
"The absolute irony about all of this is that when you just roll back the time clock, what you see is black America consistently loses when we have mob justice.
"We all benefit from the idea of equality before the law. We all benefit if we have a system in which we have the rule of law where people aren't singled out because of their race or their background.
"This police hatred, this riot, looting attitude, it ultimately is going to backfire. The American people are going to reject it. Our political system is going to reject it. And, if too many black people get involved in it, they are going to be the losers.
Candace Owens, author and political activist, when asked about the influence of BLM on the Democratic Party, replied:
"The civil war rages on and the far leftists are winning. It is a perfect political bedtime story. First, they came for Donald Trump and the Republicans — and the Democratic Party leaders cheered. Then they came for our border patrol officers, ICE agents — and the Democratic Party leaders cheered. Now they have turned around and come for the police officers — and the Democratic Party leaders cheered. What is happening now? They are going for the Democratic Party leaders themselves and they do not know what to do. It is because they are realizing this is not the party of equality but actually the party of entitlement. These are kids that have lived through absolutely nothing but want absolutely everything and they are ready to take it by any means necessary. Rioting, looting, burning things down, acting like toddlers. This is what happens when you infantilize an entire generation of voters. In my opinion, they are reaping what they sow."
Owens, when asked if presidential candidate Joe Biden is aligned with the views of BLM, said:
"Joe Biden is aligned with anything he has to say to get elected, even if it is the exact opposite of what he said the day before. He will align himself with these radicals in the same way that [speaker of the House of Representatives] Nancy Pelosi falsely aligned herself with these radicals; like [Senate minority leader] Chuck Schumer did with these radicals until they wake up one day and realize these radicals do not want the moderates.
"We are watching a literal civil war happen among the Democratic Party and they are not going to recognize this party by the end of this election. There are a bunch of political refugees who do not know what this party is and what it stands for, and let me tell you, I believe that in November, all of those people are going to be voting for Donald J. Trump."
Owens, when asked about the corporate money pouring in to BLM, replied:
"Where is the money going? No one can answer that question. When you donate to Black Lives Matter, billions and billions of dollars, where does the money go? There is no campus, there is no school, there is no office, there is no corporate structure. How have they raised billions and not been forced to tell you where that money is going? It's remarkably suspicious. We have an idea where the money is going. We don't know how these people are able to protest from 9 to 5 seven days a week. It sounds like it is a full-time job to me."
Chloé Valdary, writer and entrepreneur, commented on BLM's stated hostility toward Israel:
"Apparently believing that societal reforms in America's inner cities are somehow related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, BLM included a section on Israel in its list of demands. With trite talking points, the group called for a divestment from the Jewish state as it is allegedly 'complicit in the genocide against the Palestinian people.'
"What this means is unpleasant to contemplate. An organization formed to confront systemic prejudice against black Americans — which predates the reestablishment of the state of Israel — is now intimating that such prejudice is caused by the Jewish state's supposed genocidal tendencies (which, according to census reports, have led to a population increase among Palestinians).
"Though I find no intrinsic value in 'rebutting' crackpot conspiracy theories, it's worth demonstrating how far removed BLM is from honoring the legacy of its ancestors by reminding readers just how pro-Zionist prominent leaders in the black community have been throughout history — and how Zionism helped shape black politics in America....
"Not only has Zionism influenced black political movements throughout American history, Israel has long been used as a symbol of black liberation and freedom. By denigrating the memory of this legacy, BLM disrespects black American heritage and betrays the hard-won freedom it claims to stand for.
"To make matters worse, BLM cites the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as a source and an inspiration for its own movement — that is, declaring itself to be akin to a movement whose co-founder Omar Barghouti has called for the dismantling of the Jewish state, and a "right to resist [Israel] by all means"—i.e., terrorism. This is an insult to the memory of black leaders and the tradition of our struggle: a struggle that has been rooted in recognition of the rights and dignity of all human beings as well as love for peoples everywhere....
"Perhaps BLM's ugliest display of hypocrisy is in its claim to stand with black Americans while promoting movements whose Gaza-based heroes actively engage in the African slave trade....
"Hamas has played a serious role in the human bondage of black Africans, yet this seems to go unnoticed by BLM. In contrast to the institutionalized racism that characterizes Hamas' government, and their miserable mistreatment of Africans, it's worth highlighting and celebrating a people that take the notion that black lives matter seriously: Israelis....
"The fact that Israel puts its money where its mouth is by cultivating social and economic innovation in Africa through direct foreign investment and people-to-people outreach in addition to state-to-state ties is one big reason why Benjamin Netanyahu was greeted so warmly by African heads of state and by ordinary people during his recent visit to the continent. Perhaps in its revised manifesto, BLM will take note."
Richard Sherman, professional football player, said:
"As a black man, I do understand that black lives matter. I stand for that, I believe in that wholeheartedly. I also think that there is a way to go about things. The issue at hand needs to be addressed internally. From personal experience, living in the inner city, you deal with people dying. I dealt with a best friend getting killed and it was [at the hands of] two 35-year-old black men. There was no police officer involved. I did not hear anyone shouting black lives matter then. That's the point: we need to deal with our own internal issues before we move forward and start pointing fingers and attacking other people. We need to solidify ourselves as a people. We need to deal with our issues. We have black-on-black crime. One black man killing another. If black lives matter, then they should matter all the time."
Denzel Washington, actor, when asked about black incarceration, said:
"I think it is important to make headway in our own house. By the time the system comes into play, the damage is done. They are not locking up seven-year-olds. I was in Chicago a few weeks ago and we saw these little kids on bikes with masks on the side of their heads, and the driver said they are 'little yummies.' Google 'little yummy.' Little Yummy was an eleven-year-old murderer. He got murdered at eleven by a 14-year-old who is doing life in prison now. Do you blame the system? Where was his father? It starts in the house. It starts in the home. My three closest friends did 15-25 years in prison, one did 28 years. I was the only one who had a father in my life. I had a father who was a gentle man and a good example — they didn't. We can blame the system if we want. My parents sent me in another direction."
Barbara Ann Reynolds, author and 1960s civil rights activist, wrote:
"Black Lives Matter is a motley-looking group to this... activist in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Many in my crowd admire the cause and courage of these young activists but fundamentally disagree with their approach. Trained in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., we were nonviolent activists who won hearts by conveying respectability and changed laws by delivering a message of love and unity. BLM seems intent on rejecting our proven methods. This movement is ignoring what our history has taught.
"The baby boomers who drove the success of the civil rights movement want to get behind Black Lives Matter, but the group's confrontational and divisive tactics make it difficult. In the 1960s, activists confronted white mobs and police with dignity and decorum, sometimes dressing in church clothes and kneeling in prayer during protests to make a clear distinction between who was evil and who was good.
"But at protests today, it is difficult to distinguish legitimate activists from the mob actors who burn and loot.... Even if the BLM activists aren't the ones participating in the boorish language and dress, neither are they condemning it.
"The 1960s movement also had an innate respectability because our leaders often were heads of the black church, as well. Unfortunately, church and spirituality are not high priorities for Black Lives Matter, and the ethics of love, forgiveness and reconciliation that empowered black leaders such as King and Nelson Mandela in their successful quests to win over their oppressors are missing from this movement....
"The loving, nonviolent approach is what wins allies and mollifies enemies. But what we have seen come out of Black Lives Matter is rage and anger."
Marcellus Wiley, retired professional football player, said:
"I don't know how many people really look into the mission statement of Black Lives Matter. But I did and there are a couple of things that jump out. I'm a black man and my life has mattered since 1974. This organization was founded in 2013.
"My family structure is so vital and important to me, not only the one I grew up in, but also the one I'm trying to create now. Being a father and a husband is my mission in life right now. How do I reconcile that with this mission statement that says, quote, 'We dismantle the patriarchal practice? We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement.'?
"I know my statistics: Children from single-parent homes versus two-parent homes, the children from the single-parent homes — this is from 1995 — five times more likely to commit suicide, six times more likely to be in poverty, nine times more likely to drop out of high school, ten times more likely to abuse chemical substances, 14 times more likely to commit rape, 20 times more likely to end up in prison and 32 times more likely to run away from home. I knew that because a lot of my friends didn't have family structures that were nuclear like mine and they found themselves outside of their dreams, goals and aspirations. So, when I see that as a mission statement for Black Lives Matter it makes me scratch my head.
"I also see their mission is to eradicate white supremacy. In 2020, white supremacy is the mission? I am on a show that I am hosting with another black guy who replaced another black guy and that's just one example."
Jason Whitlock, sports journalist and commentator, when asked about the National Football League's decision to allow kneeling during the national anthem, said:
"This is about a lack of leadership, a failure of men to stand up and stand on the principles that they say they believe in. When I look at what the NFL is doing, this goes against every value that the NFL has built itself upon. Professional sports have built themselves upon a celebration of Americana and ideals and values that best exemplify America. They have built themselves on unity, on unifying the country. If the NFL starts out its season with everyone standing for lifting every voice and singing the black national anthem, and then everyone taking a knee when the Star-Spangled Banner plays, the NFL will run off a fat chunk of its audience and will never been seen in the same way again, because of the failure of leadership throughout the NFL.
"There is no way you can do any homework on Black Lives Matter and not see that it is a Marxist political organization. It's not about black death. It's not about black men. It is a political move. It is a communist political move. For those people who stand on religious values, this is a failure of men, I have seen many of these guys, they claim they are in Christianity and their religious beliefs — do they understand Black Lives Matter, communism, Marxism, is anti-religious?
"This is a historic failure of men and leadership. This is cowardice at its highest level. This is the NFL jumping the shark and saying we quit being who we said we are. We are now something else because our money is on the line and we do not stand for the values we said we stood for.
"America has made them [leaders of the NFL] filthy rich and some of the most powerful people on the planet, and they are unwilling to defend the values that they built their business on and the country that has enriched them. Across the board, politically, in the sports world, I am looking at men fall out of cowardice, I am looking at women fall out of cowardice. It is pervasive throughout this country."
Muhammad Ali Jr., son of the legendary boxer, said that his late father would have opposed to Black Lives Matter:
"Don't bust up sh*t, don't trash the place. You can peacefully protest. My father would have said, 'They ain't nothing but devils.' My father said, 'All lives matter.' I don't think he'd agree. I think it's racist.
"It's not just black lives matter, white lives matter, Chinese lives matter, all lives matter, everybody's life matters. God loves everyone — he never singled anyone out. Killing is wrong no matter who it is. Police don't wake up and think, 'I'm going to kill a n*gger today or kill a white man.' They're just trying to make it back home to their family in one piece.
"They [BLM and Antifa] are no different from Muslim terrorists. They should all get what they deserve. They're f*cking up businesses, beating up innocent people in the neighborhood, smashing up police stations and shops. They're terrorists — they're terrorizing the community. I agree with the peaceful protests, but Antifa, they need to kill everyone in that thing.
"Black Lives Matter is not a peaceful protest. Antifa never wanted it peaceful. I would take them all out.
"Not all the police are bad, there's just a few. There's a handful of police that are crooked, they should be locked up. I never had a bad scene with a cop. They've always been nice and protect me. I don't have a problem with them.
"I think Trump's a good president. My father would have supported him. Trump's not a racist, he's for all the people. Democrats are the ones who are racist and not for everybody.
"These [Democrat politicians] saying Black Lives Matter, who the hell are you to say that? You're not even black. Democrats don't give a sh*t about anybody. Hillary Clinton doesn't give a sh*t; she's trying not to get locked up. Trump is much better than Clinton and Obama. ... The only one to do what he said he would do is Donald Trump."