A lot of questions swirling around in the media about the future viability of the Black Lives Matter movement. Most of the questions center around the organization’s “leaderless” style, wherein no specific person or small group of people have emerged as spokespersons for the organizations as a whole. The fact that BLM isn’t one group, tied together by an identifiable central leadership doesn’t make it easy for the press to identify goals, platforms, and causes beyond the obvious…
White folks get nervous when their is no black strongman to talk for “de black folks”. Which is the basis of Cornel West’s rants about “prophetic leadership”, which is just another term for “strong man” leadership.
One of the oldest maxims of warfare, dating to before Sun Tsu is to “kill the leader”. An approach successfully used against the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement in the assassinations of Medgar Evers, and Dr King. The democratic construct of many organizations tied to a central goal, each pursuing resolution by self actualized actions against the components of structural racism makes for an agile, inclusive movement where the “leaders” cannot be marginalized by the MSM, or co-opted.
Why is that important? And even more key – what are the conditions which brought us to this point?
- The black Church has abrogated and destroyed the very moral foundations of it’s role as a central gathering point in the Civil Rights Movement. Often discussed is the male-female schism, but far more important in the context of the modern civil rights movement is the generational schism. The youth is leaving the Church, and there is little reason to believe they will be back.
- Black politicians, and political institutions have failed, and largely sold out the very people they were elected to represent, and have little to no connection with the millennial generation or backbone to face the basic problems of taking down structural Jim Crow. Raised in the era where the fault lines were written in specific laws clearly delineating the rights, or more appropriately the lack of rights of persons of color. The approaches used in attacking the State House, which the older politicians are wed to, have little value in what is essentially a shadow war, where results very often are wildly different from intentions.
- We now live in an America which is equivalent to Josef Stalin’s communist KGB wet dream. All forms of electronic communication are surveiled, it is almost impossible to walk down the street in any American City without being recorded on dozens of cameras, systems of “electronic control”. Your life is recorded from the second you are born, and such information is not only available to the Government, it is available to major corporations. They know whether you drink Coke over Pepsi, and it is a pretty safe bet whatever Amazon, Google, or Facebook knows – the Government knows too. They can see through the walls (or ceiling) of your house, listen to your conversations 20,000 miles away, and tell you when, where, and how many times your spouse has been banging the neighbor. The recent charade over “breaking” an iPhone is an example. What took the FBI 5 months would have taken the black intelligence agencies and Military 15 seconds. If a couple of itinerant hackers can penetrate the systems of banks for millions of credit card numbers, or even the Federal Government for 5 million social security and employee files, WTF do you think a Government Agency with computer systems the size of a small subdivision can do? The Internet is not secure…By design. The so called Internet of Things (IoT) is your life on blast.
The right, normally concerned about “Personal freedom” has been utterly subverted by Faux News having bent over and spread wide by fear-mongering about largely nonexistent “International Terrorism”, and convinced the true function of the invasion of privacy is to keep the black and brown folks in their place. They have become common whores to racism, discarding any pretense of personal liberty or freedom.
So…The disorganization of Black Lives Matter is about something else entirely.
For the movement to survive, it needs to focus on work that doesn’t lend itself to 140 characters.
In March 2012, nearly a month after George Zimmerman killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, hundreds of high-school students in Miami-Dade and Broward counties staged walkouts to protest the fact that Zimmerman hadn’t been arrested on any charges. A group of current and former Florida college activists knew that they had to do something too. During a series of conference calls, Umi Selah (then known as Phillip Agnew) and others in the group planned a 40-mile march from Daytona Beach to the headquarters of the Sanford Police Department—40 miles symbolizing the 40 days that Zimmerman had remained free. On Good Friday, 50 people set off for Sanford. The march culminated in a five-hour blockade of the Sanford PD’s doors on Easter Monday. The marchers demanded Zimmerman’s arrest and the police chief’s firing. Within two days, both demands had been met.
A little over a year later, a jury found Zimmerman not guilty on charges of second-degree murder or manslaughter. Undeterred by the legal setback, the activists—calling themselves the Dream Defenders—showed up in Tallahassee and occupied the Florida statehouse for four weeks in an effort to push Republican Governor Rick Scott to call a special legislative session to review the state’s “stand your ground” law, racial profiling, and school push-out policies, all of which the organization linked to Martin’s death. Fueled in part by participants sharing updates on Twitter, the occupation became a national story, and Selah fielded a flood of requests from media and progressive organizations. Some wanted to give an award to the Dream Defenders; others wanted to add Selah to lists proclaiming the arrival of a new generation of civil-rights heroes. (One writer said he embodied the spirit of Nelson Mandela.) Others wanted his perspective on the burgeoning racial-justice movement. After a while, Selah wanted none of it.
The breaking point came when a major news outlet profiled him without first conducting an interview. The result, he says, was an account that credited him with successes in social-justice movements he wasn’t even involved in. “If I was a person in the [immigrants’-rights] movement, I would look at this article and think, ‘Who the hell is this dude?’” he told me. “I really panicked. I imagined somebody saying, ‘Why is this dude telling Time magazine that he’s been in the forefront of these movements, and we’ve never seen him here?’”
Selah’s response was to pull himself out of the spotlight. He started declining media requests and posting less often to social media. When he did accept an invitation to speak, his goals were to disavow any hero label thrust on him by others and to demystify the Dream Defenders’ work.
Selah is an organizer, not a media personality, and so the trade-off made sense for him. But for others, that might not be the case. Twitter personality and trailing Baltimore mayoral candidate DeRay Mckesson was described in a recent New York Times profile as “the best-known face of the Black Lives Matter movement” and BLM’s “biggest star.” Now followed by more than 300,000 Twitter users, Mckesson began building his following by live-tweeting the protests in Ferguson in August 2014 after driving there from Minneapolis, where he lived at the time. More than a million mentions and retweets on the social-networking platform made him the protagonist of the Times magazine’s cover story on Black Lives Matter and earned him a spot on Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders list. But is he an organizer? The historian Barbara Ransby, author of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement, says she defines organizing as “bringing people together for sustained, coordinated, strategic action for change.” Mckesson, who wisely calls himself a “protester,” is doing something else entirely. The problem is that too many of us don’t know to look for the difference.
Today’s racial-justice movement demands an end to the disproportionate killing of black people by law-enforcement officials and vigilantes, and seeks to root out white supremacy wherever it lives. Social media has allowed its members to share documentary evidence of police abuse, spread activist messages, and forge a collective meaning out of heartrending news. At certain key moments, Twitter in particular has reflected and reinforced the power of this movement. On November 24, 2014, when the St. Louis County prosecutor announced that a grand jury had decided not to bring charges against the officer who killed an unarmed Michael Brown, Twitter users fired off 3.4 million tweets regarding the police killings of black people and racial-justice organizing, with the vast majority coming from movement supporters and news outlets, according to a recent report by American University’s Center for Media and Social Impact. Weeks later, when the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death in New York City was also not indicted, 4.4 million tweets over a period of seven days kept the nation’s attention focused on the fight for police accountability. Hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter, #Ferguson, #HandsUpDontShoot and #IfTheyGunnedMeDown gave users—including those not yet involved in activism—a way to contribute to conversations they cared about.
But while social media turns the microphone over to activists and organizers who are often far from the center of the media’s attention, its power doesn’t come without pitfalls. In August, a nasty Twitter fight erupted after Mckesson initiated a meeting with Bernie Sanders’s campaign. Writer and activist dream hampton posted a tweet that read: “While a meeting with @deray might be a blast, I would expect @BernieSanders to meet with actual BLM folks, those who forced this platform.” At the heart of the criticism was the claim that Mckesson was not in a position to speak to a presidential candidate on behalf of the Black Lives Matter network—an organization with chapters that grew out of the hashtag created and popularized by Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Khan-Cullors. …Read the Rest Here…