Latest in a series of posts responding to the Jacob Blake shooting
“The founders of BLM are self-described ‘trained Marxists’ who have called for outrageous demands to be met or else.”
In a recently surfaced 2015 interview, one of the three Black Lives Matter co-founders declared that she and another co-founder “are trained Marxists.”
But the movement has grown and broadened dramatically. Many Americans, few of whom would identify as Marxists, support Black Lives Matter, drawn to its message of anti-racism.
“Regardless of whatever the professed politics of people may be who are prominent in the movement, they don’t represent its breadth,” said Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Princeton University African American Studies professor and author of “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.”
“There are definitely socialists within the movement, as there have been in every single social movement in 20th century American history and today. But that does not make those socialist movements, it makes them mass movements,” she said.
It’s important to recognize that movements evolve.
Noting Cullors’ declaration of being Marxist trained, “one has to take that seriously: if the leadership says it is Marxist, then there’s a good chance they are,” said Russell Berman, a professor at Stanford University and a senior fellow at its conservative Hoover Institution who has written critically about Marxism.
But “this does not mean every supporter is Marxist — Marxists often have used ‘useful idiots.’ And a Marxist movement can be more or less radical, at different points in time,” he said.
Black Lives Matter’s “emphatic support for gender identity politics sets it apart from historical Marxism,” and the goals listed on its website “do not appear to be expressly anti-capitalist, which would arguably be a Marxist identifier,” Berman added.
The group’s support is broad.
Meanwhile, 50% of registered voters support Black Lives Matter as of mid-July, up from 37% in April 2017, according to Civiqs, an online survey research firm.
In July, the New York Times reported that Black Lives Matter may be the largest movement in U.S. history, as four polls suggest that about 15 million to 26 million people in the United States have participated in demonstrations over the death of Floyd and others in recent weeks. (That does not account for similar protests overseas.)
“I am fairly convinced these are mostly attempts to smear anti-racist activists. I think in some media, ‘Marxist’ is dog-whistle for something horrible, like ‘Nazi’, and thus enables to delegitimize/dehumanize them,” Miriyam Aouragh, a lecturer at the London-based Westminster School of Media and Communication, told PolitiFact.
Black Lives Matter “is not an organization, but a fluid movement; it doesn’t actually matter if one of its founders was a liberal, Marxist, socialist or capitalist.”