The Failure of Black Lives Matter

By Margaret KimberleyMargaret Kimberley

“Black lives matter was gaining ground. Then a Sniper Opened Fire.” This New York Times article encapsulates everything that is wrong with the ubiquitous but ultimately useless organization, Black Lives Matter. The phrase is now used to describe any protest by black people in the last two years and has come to symbolize the fight against police murder. So much so that it is difficult to offer any serious commentary about BLM.

To be clear I differentiate between the organization and the many efforts to fight back against 21st century lynch law. That fight is a righteous fight, but BLM as an organization is an abject failure. BLM makes no political demands of Obama or any other officials. The founders of BLM know good marketing when they see it and the phrase is used by the righteous and the scoundrels alike. If BLM was the truly radical, revolutionary organization that we so desperately need, it wouldn’t feel a need to explain actions, defend itself or offer anything other than political demands. Its leaders wouldn’t care what the New York Times or anyone other than the masses of black people had to say about them.

Black people have been living in a state of barely concealed anger for years. Murderer vigilantes like George Zimmerman go free and make a profit from killing. Eric Garner was killed on camera but the only person imprisoned was the one who recorded the video. Watching Alton Sterling and Philando Castille die on camera were the straws that broke the camel’s back. Whether spoken or not, black people know there will be no justice for these two men, just as there was none for Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray or Michael Brown.

Black Lives Matter has nothing to show for the money it raises and media attention it receives. They gave words, a name to a mass movement, but they haven’t articulated any political message to date. Their conference in 2015, a “convening” as they called it, was a mish mash of touchy feely new age nonsense. Workshops on healing and safe spaces were on the menu but there was little talk of political action which might end police murder.

Despite its lack of accomplishment, BLM has been a target for white anger. That doesn’t really mean much because white people are generally angry and feel aggrieved when their racism is pointed out to them. The bar for making white people mad is rather low and so is evoking negative reaction from right wing pundits and red neck republicans from Nowheresville.

If the New York Times says that BLM was gaining ground, who were they gaining ground for? Are they talking about good publicity, fund raising or accolades from all the right people? Since BLM was founded there has been no drop in the number of police murders of black people or of anyone else. There has been no improvement in prosecution or punishment of killer cops.

Black Power Matters. All else is nonsense.