Over the past decade, one slogan represented black activism in the mainstream media. “Black Lives Matter.” Although many people were swept up in the initial movement, others had questions since the days of Ferguson.
In the past year, with the death of George Floyd, BLM’s popularity hit an all-time high. As the dust settled, however, we began to see questions about the organization again, rightfully so.
This time, the African American community should take stock in examining this movement and assess if this is what they want to be a part of.
For one, this movement doesn’t stand on the principles they espouse. Critics have called out their now retired leader Patrisse Khan-Cullors and other affiliated actors. In 2020, for example, Black Lives Matter raised approximately $90 million dollars as protests and demands for denouncing White Supremacy spread across the nation.
Soon, their own chapters inquired about the funds raised and what the organization did with them. Unsurprisingly, BLM leaders were in no rush to provide transparency. Then, after being hassled and haggled about their finances, BLM finally showed an inkling of accountability in February 2021.
According to MarketWatch, “This marks the first time in the movement’s nearly eight-year history that BLM leaders have revealed a detailed look at their finances. The foundation’s coffers and influence grew immensely following the May 2020 death of George Floyd, a Black man whose last breaths under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer sparked protests across the U.S. and around the world.”
Once again, Black Lives Matter leaders and their affiliates rile up the African American community’s emotions without following up with solutions. Why do they keep getting away with it? There are several guesses.
First, we only pay attention when the media tells us to pay attention and we lose interest after we’re used. Activism and social justice warriors are now played out.
It’s clear as day they can’t serve two masters (activism or corporatism) so they should give up pretending they’re “for the people”. This grift doesn’t end with Black Lives Matter either. Below is a list of so-called “activists” that ironically “fight white supremacy” with the support of white corporations.
One such “activist” is Tamika Mallory. Recently, she partnered with Cadillac for a commercial segment titled “Audacity of Blackness” that left people scratching their heads. How could an activist fighting for black lives in the streets team up with a literal corporation to promote activism?
Clearly, that defeated the purpose of railing against the powers that be. Then, the “oppressed” activist put out a corporate-sponsored book on how to win in this country. You may not see anything wrong with that.
However, think of past activists that rose to prominence. Activists we were taught about in grade school. Tellingly, we can’t recall such brand deals and grandstanding. People like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were revered for their activism. They didn’t have the luxury to partner with corporations and uphold capitalism while they also railed against such principles.
Parents of some of the victims of police violence also voiced criticism. Samaria Rice is one such voice. She’s the mother of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who police killed in 2014. In March, she called out Mallory and other high-profile social justice activists for exploiting her son’s death within the Black Lives Matter movement.
After that, everyone should’ve stopped and reflected on the trajectory of the movement. However, it seemed that people were more engulfed with playing politics than empathizing with Rice. Rice put out a statement along with others who felt the BLM movement used them. This was after they saw Mallory performing with rapper Lil Baby at the Grammys.
“We never hired them to be the representatives in the fight for justice for our dead loved ones murdered by police. These ‘activists’ have events in our cities and have not given us anything substantial for using our loved ones’ images and names on their flyers … We don’t want or need y’all parading in the streets accumulating donations, platforms, movie deals, etc., off the death of our loved ones, while the families and communities are left clueless and broken. Don’t say our loved ones’ names period!”
Although Tamika Mallory spoke about the friction with Ms. Rice on her podcast “For the Record,” it seemed this coalition of social justice warriors still didn’t get the message. Samaria Rice has made it clear that people who benefited from her son’s sad death have no regard for her, but she isn’t certain that high-profile activists get the memo.
As recently as this past week, she blasted Shaun King for grifting and not honoring the wishes of parents of slain black children. Rice wrote a message to King on Instagram this week alleging King of being an “imposter” who collected funds off her child’s name without her consent. Her denunciation of King came after a recent edition of his podcast in which he detailed a private discussion he had with Rice. Noticeably, he subsequently deleted the episode.
“Why do you think it is so important to tell folks we had a conversation? Well, we talked and everything that was said was very toxic and uncomfortable for me to hear that you raised additional money and then say you did not want to bother me. Personally, I don’t understand how you sleep at night. I never gave you permission to raise nothing. Along with the United States, you robbed me for the death of my son” the statement read.
“Tamir’s human rights was violated, why would you ever make it about you?” she added. “You are a selfish self-centered person and God will deal with you White man.”
This is not the first (or last time) King has been pushed into the spotlight over allegations of grifting. This also isn’t the first parent to call out these movements for the way dead black children are used for “clout” or political gain.
In March, Michael Brown Sr., the dad of Michael Brown Jr who was fatally shot in Ferguson, also denounced BLM. In April, it was reported that Breonna Taylor’s mom called the BLM Louisville chapter a fraud and accused them of collecting money in her name.
These things are occurring more and more as people wake up to the grift that is social justice warriors and activism. Hopefully, in the near future, we collectively recognize these grifts for what they are, and work to abolish them.