Most people hear the words Black Lives Matter and they have images of the Ferguson Missouri riots, the ‘Hands up don’t shoot’ canard, DeRay McKesson or Brittney Packnett. But where did this movement come from?
What are its origins?
Who is funding this thing?
The foundation of Black Lives Matter comes from the Black Liberation Movement and Black Liberation Theology. Intentional or not, the initials ‘BLM’ work for both movements.
So what is Black Liberation Theology?
Black Liberation Theology was born of Liberation Theology, which views Jesus Christ as a spiritual revolutionary figure. Faith is not about humility and serving a higher power, but instead is a lever for revolution and change. Liberation Theology is thought to trace back to the late 1960’s to early 1970’s and was allegedly started by a Dominican priest and Peruvian theologian named Gustavo GutiÃ©rrez.
This adaptation of Liberation Theology gave rise to the Black Liberation Movement or Black Power Movement, which spawned groups like the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army.
The term Black Liberation Theology itself was coined in 1970 by James H. Cone, Ph.D. Cone currently is a professor at New York’s Union Theological Seminary and has been cited as a having influenced both President Barack Obama and Obama’s former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
In 2008, Cone interviewed with NPR after the “God Damn American” remarks of President Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Cone tells the interviewer that it is essential to ‘love the enemy’, which he notes are white people.
In that interview, Cone refers to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, stating that Black Liberation Theology is “bringing Martin and Malcolm together, teaching us how to be both unapologetically black and Christian at the same time.” Cone also remarked that he was disappointed that back in the 1960’s, white Christian churches ‘did not discuss the Gospel as it applied to black people’s struggles’.
Cone’s original connections of Black Liberation Theology in terms of Black struggles, Christianity and the Gospel are not the same connections of today.
Where Cone has expressed loving the ‘enemy’ to effect change, Black Lives Matter has polarized and demonized their enemy, law enforcement. Black Lives Matter’s rhetoric has cited as inspiring the murder of law enforcement officials in multiple states by supporters.
Black Liberation Theology filters Liberation Theology through a lens of race and is essentially the freeing black people from white racism through a selective assault on God, scripture, and Religion. Both theologies rely on using Communistic and Marxist ideology to dismantle and co-opt Christianity and to establish a sense of black victimhood.
Simply put, Black Liberation Theology is about “blackness”; white people can neither understand blackness nor how their white privilege oppresses anyone of color. Ironically, Black Liberation Theology, which was supposed to strengthen and uplift the black community has done the opposite. Following Marxist principles only leads to more cyclical oppression.
Black Lives Matter has taken these theologies and bent them a little more. On the Black Lives Matter website, we find a statement written by Alicia Garza about why Black Lives Matter began:
“I created #BlackLivesMatter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, two of my sisters, as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was post-humously [sic] placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed. It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements.
Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”
Where Black Lives Matter started is not where it is today – at least for the three women who created it. Their version outright states that this is a ‘rebuilding’ of the Black Liberation movement and actually has more focus on gay and transgender blacks and, in particular, women:
“It goes beyond the narrow nationalism that can be prevalent within Black communities, which merely call on Black people to love Black, live Black and buy Black, keeping straight cis Black men in the front of the movement while our sisters, queer and trans and disabled folk take up roles in the background or not at all.
Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement.” – Black Lives Matter Website (About)
Black Lives Matter, as it is presented above, is about illegal aliens, convicted criminals, women and anyone who remotely feels “marginalized”. In other words, it could be described as a ‘big tent’ for victimhood – a tax-exempt big tent, that is.
Black Lives Matter is a 501(c)3. That’s right, they received public money to protest in cities alongside other protesters where public and private property is often destroyed. Often, millions of associated fees are also incurred by local taxpayers for police, fire, rescue as they are frequently paid overtime.
Some of the more recognizable ‘organizers’, such as those mentioned at the beginning of this article, all have a public money common thread — Teach for America.
As the saying goes, ‘follow the money’.
The tax ID number on the Black Lives Matter website is 77-0071852. That tax ID number belongs to the “International Development Exchange” or IDEX for short. IDEX has been tax-exempt since 1985 and is located in Berkeley, California across the street from the UC campus.
IDEX’s mission states that “IDEX identifies, evaluates, and grows the best ideas from local leaders and organizations to alleviate poverty and injustice around the world. IDEX connects a passionate and engaged network of supporters to the visionary leaders and organizations creating lasting solutions to their communities’ most pressing challenges.”
IDEX says they work in six different countries – Guatemala, India, Mexico, Nepal, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
About the projects they take on, IDEX’s website also says that “The common denominators running through all projects and initiatives are economic development and lasting social change for the benefit of marginalized people, particularly women, indigenous people, and youth.”
IDEX’s press release announcing the partnership with Black Lives Matter says they are a “natural ally” and reads, in part, “Black Lives Matter’s focus on voice, inclusion, and systemic social transformation resonates deeply with IDEX’s staff, board, and partners. Both organizations are led primarily by people of color, queer/trans people, women, and/or people from the Global South. IDEX’s approach reflects the intersectionality of global struggles for social justice and sees BLM as a natural, necessary ally.”
IDEX has received funds over the years from the George Soros’ Tides and Open Society Foundations, but that’s nothing compared to what Soros had lined up for 2015-16 with an eye specifically on the 2016 election.
In a leaked document from the Open Society U.S. Programs board meeting held in New York from October 1 – 2, 2015, the Soros board members listed their intent to fund Black Lives Matter to the tune of $650,000. The document specifically mentions “Youth Organizing” and engaging activists in Durham, North Carolina.
#BlackLivesMatter ($650,000) – Per Board consensus at our May board meeting, U.S. Programs supported a series of convenings across the country over the summer organized in response to the immediate outrage and the escalating community mobilization to save black lives following the numerous killings of black men, women, and children by police. The largest of these events took place in July, when activists participated in the Movement for Black Lives convening in Cleveland, Ohio. In November, the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing will engage younger activists in Durham, North Carolina. In addition to supporting these convenings, US Programs has provided the groups and attendees of the convenings described here with technical assistance.
Both Durham and Charlotte, North Carolina have seen Black Lives Matter protests over the last year. There are key groups and people within the state organizing these protests which will be looked at in a separate article.
We know where the money comes from and the origins of Black Lives Matter. In part two, we’ll take a closer look at the women who started this movement and what they stand for: Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors.