"Black Lives Matter has become a major political force during this intense election year.... But while BLM claims to benefit Black Americans, the truth is that it actually hurts us. BLM's cult-like tactics are more like those of a violent gang than a traditional civil rights group fighting against racial discrimination." — Rob Smith, U.S. Army veteran. (Photo of Rob Smith by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
This multi-part series (Part I here, Part II here, Part III here) focuses on the perspectives of blacks — conservative, liberal or libertarian — who appraise BLM and its agenda. The following selection of commentary by blacks from all walks of life — actors, athletes, businesspeople, civil rights activists, clergy, commentators, physicians and politicians — demonstrates that black public opinion is not monolithic, and that BLM does not speak for all African Americans.
Walter E. Williams, Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, wrote:
"While no one can deny the existence of residual racial discrimination, racial discrimination is not the major problem confronting a large segment of the Black community.
"A major problem is that some public and private policies reward dependency and irresponsibility. Chief among these policies is the welfare state that has fostered a 75% rate of out-of-wedlock births and decimated the black family that had survived Jim Crow and racism.
"Keep in mind that in 1940 the Black illegitimacy rate was 11% and most Black children were raised in two-parent families. Most poverty, about 25%, is found in female-headed households. The poverty rate among husband-and-wife Black families has been in the single digits for more than two decades.
"Black people can be thankful that double standards and public and private policies rewarding inferiority and irresponsibility were not a part of the 1920s, '30s, '40s and '50s. If there were, then there would not have been the kind of intellectual excellence and spiritual courage that created the world's most successful civil rights movement.
"From the late 1800s to 1950, some Black schools were models of academic achievement. Black students at Washington's Dunbar High School often outscored white students as early as 1899. Schools such as Frederick Douglass (Baltimore), Booker T. Washington (Atlanta), P.S. 91 (Brooklyn), McDonogh 35 (New Orleans) and others operated at a similar level of excellence.
"Self-destructive behavior that has become acceptable, particularly that in predominantly Black schools, is nothing less than a gross betrayal of a struggle, paid with blood, sweat and tears by previous generations, to make possible today's educational opportunities that are being routinely squandered. I guarantee that Blacks who lived through that struggle and are no longer with us would not have believed such a betrayal possible.
"Government should do its job of protecting constitutional rights. After that, Black people should be simply left alone as opposed to being smothered by the paternalism inspired by white guilt."
Ward Connerly, political activist, businessman, and former University of California Regent, wrote:
"In the past four months, Americans have stood witness to widespread arson, looting, vandalism, and the breakdown of law and order. Frequently, those committing and fomenting the violence claim they are fighting against systemic racism.
"I grew up in segregated Louisiana, where real systemic racism was part of daily life.
"Yet in my lifetime, the United States has achieved steady and strong racial progress, allowing Black men and women to be full and equal Americans. Individual racism will always exist; but in this country, the system is no longer racist.
"Yet for decades, measures to 'address' the racism of the past have inflicted new racial discrimination on Americans.
"In 1996, Californians roundly rejected such modern-day bigotry by adopting Proposition 209, which banned racial preferences and discrimination in public university admissions, public contracting, and public employment in the state.
"Alas, nearly a quarter of a century later, the stokers of racial grievance have refused to let progress stand. They have mounted a campaign — Proposition 16 — to overturn California's existing race neutrality.
"It is no accident that this challenge to Prop 209 has arrived at the same time as mass protests and race riots. For four months now, thugs and rioters — along with the media and political class that enable them — have been tearing at the social fabric of this country.
"The unthinkable — such as defunding major police departments — has become accepted as 'reform.' Judging people based on their skin color has once again become accepted in the highest echelons of American society.
"Americans who speak out against such lawlessness and intolerance have been physically attacked for their race and political views.
"Statues of the Founding Fathers and other historical figures, such as Christopher Columbus — even President Ulysses Grant and the Black abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass — have been torn down by rejoicing mobs.
"Each day, long-established political norms and moral values are being trashed, along with the social contract that Americans made with their government and each other.
"All this chaos and moral confusion is the perfect opening for supporters of Prop 16 to claim — and be believed by far too many — that their aim is 'diversity' and 'equity,' not a return to state-mandated practice of treating human beings as racial groups instead of individuals.
"In truth, the past four months have offered a cold reminder that equality, which is central to the American creed, can no longer be taken for granted....
"Today, however, the official Black Lives Matter movement, along with radical leftist groups, such as Antifa — many of which are supported with millions of dollars from corporations, and all of whom are coddled by the left-wing media — make it a point to judge, target, and attack Americans based on the color of their skin.
"The country as a whole is now caught in a vicious spiral of undoing its hard-won racial equality, and California stands as the vanguard of this cultural revolution.
"Soon after far-left state legislators put Prop 16 on the ballot, they adopted measures requiring hard racial quotas for corporate boards, forced racial indoctrination for students, and a committee to 'study' issuing reparations for Californians whose ancestors were slaves.
"If Prop 16 passes, this virus of racial divisiveness will spread to the rest of the country.
"We, as Americans, cannot let that happen. We must remember the American creed and its true promise of equality. We must not remain silent as our country literally burns."
Connerly also said:
"Black lives do matter, but I would say blackness does not. Whiteness does not. There are Latinos that are white guys, but are Latino. There are Asians who are white people, but they are Asian, so today skin color doesn't matter. It shouldn't matter. The only way we get it to not matter is to stop making it matter."
Robert L. Woodson, founder and president of the Woodson Center, community development leader, author, when asked in a television interview why prosecutors were refusing to file charges against BLM looters and rioters, said:
"Critical Race Theory holds that anytime there is disparity between blacks and whites, then it has to be systemic. Therefore, the response has to be to change and alter the standards, because to say to black Americans, or anyone they consider marginalized, that they must alter their behavior to meet the standards is racist. This is just a logical extension of that. In Philadelphia, the liberal DA there has decriminalized shoplifting, so shoplifters are walking in and out of stores smiling in the cameras and holding up the goods and saying, 'I can't be prosecuted.' This is an extension of Critical Race Theory, that somehow any disparity with blacks exempts them from any responsibility. Nothing is more injurious to a people than to convey the notion that they are exempt from personal responsibility.
"What I'm most concerned about is that there has been an outbreak of attacks by young blacks on elderly white people. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a young black man beat and raped a 90-year-old woman and beat up her husband. They were married for 65 years and he served in the Second World War. If he had shot this young man, it would be front-page news. The very fact that he was black and beat and raped and killed this old white woman and beat up her husband is not news. That's why I think that Critical Race Theory and the way we are approaching it — we are in a very dangerous place. That's why Dr. Martin Luther King said that moral consistency and redemption is what defines America.
"Over the centuries, black American leadership used to come together and define how black Americans should confront the future. This was true up until the 1960s, with the civil rights movement. Today there is no critical black leadership debating the course of black America's future. They have been pawns of the radical white left and they just do what they are told. There is no black leadership giving moral direction the way Dr. King did, the way Bayard Rustin did, the way Roy Wilkins did. We don't have those voices today."
Kim Klacik, businesswoman and congressional candidate for Maryland, said:
"Do you care about black lives? The people that run Baltimore don't. I can prove it. Walk with me. They don't want you to see this. This is Baltimore. The real Baltimore. This is the reality for black people every day: crumbling infrastructure, abandoned homes, poverty and crime.
"Baltimore has been run by the Democratic Party for 53 years. What is the result of their decades of leadership? Baltimore is one of the top five most dangerous cities in America. The murder rate in Baltimore is ten times the U.S. average. The Baltimore poverty rate is over 20%. Homicide, drug, and alcohol deaths are skyrocketing in our city.
"Do you believe black lives matter? I do. The vast majority of crime in Baltimore is perpetrated against black people, who make up 60% of the population. So why don't we care about our communities?
"The Democratic Party has betrayed the people of Baltimore. If politicians walked the streets like I do, they would see how their policies and corruption affects us. But they don't want to see it. They don't want us to see it.
"It's not just Baltimore. The worst place for a black person to live in America is a Democrat-controlled city. It's 2020. Name a blue city where black people's lives have gotten better. Try. I'll wait....
"Democrats think black people are stupid. They think they can control us forever. That we won't demand better and that we'll keep voting for them forever. That's why I'm running for Congress. Because all black lives matter. Baltimore matters. And black people don't have to vote Democrat."
Deroy Murdock, political commentator, author, wrote:
"The unanimous national disgust at the killing of George Floyd beneath the knee of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin has devolved into something completely different. In an apparent collective nervous breakdown, self-flagellating white Americans have concluded that Floyd's death somehow confirms their own racism, which they are busy exorcising. Quasi-religious rituals have found whites on bended knees apologizing to blacks for being white....
"If America runs on racism, as the left insists, why doesn't this country erase any trace of the black contribution to this society? Instead, every February is Black History Month, filled with news articles, lesson plans, radio shows, TV programs, and more on how blacks helped to build America as we know her today.
"A white-supremacist nation would have sandbagged the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of African American History and Culture. Instead, the federal government spent some $270 million on this establishment before it opened in September 2016.
"If America is so insufferably racist, how is it that Lester Holt anchors 'The NBC Nightly News?' How does Don Lemon host a CNN program every evening? Why are so many black musicians, actors, and athletes worshipped, rather than reviled, by white fans? How do millions of other non-famous blacks succeed in so many walks of life — quietly but concretely?
"If America really is so deeply, systematically, irretrievably racist, why did 43 million white voters help elect Obama president in 2008? Four ruinous years in office tarnished Obama's halo. Regardless, 36 million whites forgot their inherent racism long enough to help re-elect Obama, comfortably, in 2012.
"If America is merely apartheid-era South Africa with four time zones, why did President Donald J. Trump bother to establish 8,760 Opportunity Zones to revitalize economically distressed communities, many of them black?
"How did America's institutionalized racism let Trump provide school-choice options for black kids in K-12 schools, and long-term federal funding and other benefits for Historically Black Colleges and Universities?
"Why didn't America's genetic prejudice stop blacks and Hispanics from achieving the lowest unemployment ever recorded, before a Chinese virus rolled in and junked the U.S. economy? ....
"Will this nation ever entirely expunge racism? Probably not. If 99 percent of 330 million Americans suddenly became totally non-racist, 3.3 million bigots would remain — nearly enough to fill Connecticut. So, as beautiful as it would be, racism is as unlikely to vanish from America as anywhere else. But, for all the grief, pain, and even death that it still causes, is American racism widespread, systemic, and institutionalized? No."
Peter N. Kirsanow, attorney and member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, said:
"We're at an inflection point, a dangerous one. I don't think many of us contemplated that we may lose America, that the American experiment might be teetering on the brink here....
"This is an extraordinary time and we have leaders who are displaying so much cowardice and ignorance. Ignorance comes in this fashion: I've been living in the same inner-city black neighborhood for nearly 40 years now and during that period of time, the crime rate has been dropping slowly but steadily. Then we had the Michael Brown incident in Fergusson....
"So, for that period, you had a decline in crime in black neighborhoods in all cities, and then my neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio, in that one year after Fergusson, there was a 90% spike in homicide rates. The top 50 largest cities in the United States all had a double-digit increase in homicides and other crimes after the decline.
"If you talk about even marginally giving consideration to defunding even slightly the police, if black lives truly matter, fund the police. Reform the policemen who are bad — there are bad apples everywhere, there are a few here and a few there, of course that's going to happen in a nation of 330 million — but all of what we're witnessing right now is based on a false narrative that some have known for a long time: some in positions of power, for political expediency and opportunism, have been expanding on a false narrative that blacks are being disproportionately targeted by cops. The data have been clear for a long time. I'm the longest-serving member of the civil rights commission. I've been marinating in this data for a long time. If you say some of these things, you can lose your job. You can be ostracized. You can be a persona non grata. This is not a time for cowardice.
"And here are some of the stats: As opposed to what is now a given — maybe some of the folks at the NFL and some of the big corporations and the woke people think that cops are slaughtering black people disproportionately — the stats the studies that have come out (the most recent one that is by the National Academy of Sciences) — all these folks are not necessarily the bastion of right-wing extremism — found that white perpetrators are slightly more likely to be shot by cops than blacks. Also, there is data that shows that unarmed whites are twice as likely to be shot as blacks and the narrative shows that because of black overrepresentation in violent crime they are actually underrepresented in police shootings as a function of the types of encounters that one would have with a cop."
Nick Fad, investigative journalist, tweeted:
"Since its inception, Black Lives Matter was seen as a radical group that no one took seriously — and for good reasons. The self-described Marxist organization seeks to destroy the nuclear family and transform Western civilization.
"Fast forward to today, American organizations that have flourished under the system, from sports to technology to corporations, have endorsed the BLM movement. How did a Marxist organization whose mission is to transform Western civilization become so popular among Americans?
"It began after United States Attorney General William P. Barr announced that he had evidence that Antifa and other groups were responsible for criminal activity that followed protests in a number of cities. The insurgency moved to protect its asset, legitimizing and cloaking it in a cloud of political protection.
"That night, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a directive to rename the street outside Lafayette Square after BLM and commissioned artists to paint the organization's name on the road leading to the White House. Painters worked through the night and completed it by lunchtime....
"Just days before, BLM and Antifa committed terrorism in our nation's capital, burning a church and vandalizing federal property. They were rewarded with a mural in their name by their political cadre. Imagine that, commit terrorism, get a mural! ....
"In other cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Charlotte, where BLM murals exist ... a process that typically takes months, but seems to have been expedited in every case....
"There are two strategies the Democrats are using: 1) Appealing to ethnic grievances (real or perceived) to increase support for their electoral chances by promising to implement policies that resolve the (real or perceived) deprivations. 2) Control what gets presented by using their front organization, BLM, to represent the ethnic group they are exploiting. They're effectively playing both sides....
"The illusion that 'Blacks are oppressed and hunted every day' must be recited at all costs if the insurgency is to last. Never mind that the numbers don't back up the claim. If you repeat a lie and isolate the target group from the truth, the lie becomes believable.
"Once the 'us vs. them' strategy is in place along with a lack of security, insurgents can force neutral elements into choosing a side (Trump or BLM). Fear, intimidation and social pressure can be used to gain passive support and crush anyone who doesn't fall in line.
"Many are wondering, what does Trump have to do with BLM? After all, the organization existed before he ran for office. The 'founder' of BLM states that her goal is to get Trump out of office. So, who's agenda is BLM serving? You know the answer.
"Furthermore, behind the shield of black lives mattering, Democrats are trying to implement their communist plan with little to no resistance. 'Never let a crisis go to waste' is alive:
"Get rid of charter schools? Yup, those charter schools are racist....
"Green New Deal, huh? Yea, the Blacks need that too.
"Reenter the Climate Accord? CO2 kills black people.
"Whenever you hear them talk like this, just laugh in their face.
"In closing, the worst thing that can happen to this country to give Black Lives Matter legitimacy. It's just communism being presented in blackface."
"BLM will go down as the most destructive movement in American history. Someday we'll look back and wonder how an organization run by people who want to overthrow the government became so popular among politicians, athletics, entertainers, and the mainstream media."
Rob Smith, U.S. Army veteran, wrote:
"Black Lives Matter has become a major political force during this intense election year.... But while BLM claims to benefit Black Americans, the truth is that it actually hurts us.
"BLM's cult-like tactics are more like those of a violent gang than a traditional civil rights group fighting against racial discrimination. The organization refuses to acknowledge the Black lives lost in the violence it has engaged in. It refuses to acknowledge the tragedy of Black lives lost to criminals. It focuses solely on far smaller number of Black people injured or killed in encounters with police.
"Growing numbers of Black Americans are starting to wake up to this hypocrisy. Do most Black people actually support Black Lives Matter? I address this question in the newest episode of my podcast 'Rob Smith Is Problematic.'
"BLM has established itself as the prism through which Blacks in America view ourselves — and is attempting to define us. The message we are getting is: if you are a Black American and you are not completely on board with every single thing that is done or said to advocate for this organization, then you are not Black, or you are not Black enough, or you hate yourself.
"This is absurd.
"I have a problem with this because there should be no organization or movement that has that much power over any group of people. I was born Black and will always be Black. No one has the right to tell me that my race requires me to support a certain group, cause, political ideology or candidate.
"Just as White people have every right to hold a wide range of beliefs, Black people do as well. No race is monolithic.
"Black Lives Matters supporters taking to the streets, screaming in the faces of white diners attempting to enjoy a meal outside, breaking into stores, looting, setting fires and engaging in other acts of physical violence aren't movement members. They're criminals. BLM is their cult. It is their religion. It is what gives them purpose. And that should make Americans of any color deeply uncomfortable."
Charles Barkley, sports commentator and former professional basketball player, responding to attacks by BLM activists, said:
"Black people only like you when you say what they want you to say. I'm a big boy. I can handle the heat. If it wasn't for the cops we'd be living in the wild, wild west. It's not as simple as that 'it's always the cops' fault'. We as black people have made some mistakes. We've got to do better. Cops are important, they're very significant. We as black people have to do a better job of policing ourselves. The cops have made some mistakes, I think everybody has to admit that, but we can't as black people, every time something goes wrong think, 'it's the cop's fault."
Barkley also said:
"It's a dirty, dark secret in the black community: one of the reasons we're never going to be successful as a whole is because of other black people. For some reason we are brainwashed to think if you are not a thug or an idiot, you are not black enough. If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligent and don't break the law, you're not a good black person."
Anonymous, black professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley, in an open letter to colleagues, wrote:
"In your recent departmental emails, you mentioned our pledge to diversity, but I am increasingly alarmed by the absence of diversity of opinion on the topic of the recent protests and our community response to them.
"In the extended links and resources you provided, I could not find a single instance of substantial counter-argument or alternative narrative to explain the under-representation of black individuals in academia or their over-representation in the criminal justice system. The explanation provided in your documentation, to the near exclusion of all others, is univariate: the problems of the black community are caused by whites, or, when whites are not physically present, by the infiltration of white supremacy and white systemic racism into American brains, souls, and institutions.
"Many cogent objections to this thesis have been raised by sober voices, including from within the black community itself, such as Thomas Sowell and Wilfred Reilly. These people are not racists or 'Uncle Toms'. They are intelligent scholars who reject a narrative that strips black people of agency and systematically externalizes the problems of the black community onto outsiders. Their view is entirely absent from the departmental and UCB-wide communiques.
"The claim that the difficulties that the black community faces are entirely causally explained by exogenous factors in the form of white systemic racism, white supremacy, and other forms of white discrimination remains a problematic hypothesis that should be vigorously challenged by historians. Instead, it is being treated as an axiomatic and actionable truth without serious consideration of its profound flaws, or its worrying implication of total black impotence. This hypothesis is transforming our institution and our culture, without any space for dissent outside of a tightly policed, narrow discourse....
"Increasingly, we are being called upon to comply and subscribe to BLM's problematic view of history, and the department is being presented as unified on the matter. In particular, ethnic minorities are being aggressively marshaled into a single position. Any apparent unity is surely a function of the fact that dissent could almost certainly lead to expulsion or cancellation for those of us in a precarious position, which is no small number.
"I personally don't dare speak out against the BLM narrative, and with this barrage of alleged unity being mass-produced by the administration, tenured professoriate, the UC administration, corporate America, and the media, the punishment for dissent is a clear danger at a time of widespread economic vulnerability. I am certain that if my name were attached to this email, I would lose my job and all future jobs, even though I believe in and can justify every word I type.
"The vast majority of violence visited on the black community is committed by black people. There are virtually no marches for these invisible victims, no public silences, no heartfelt letters from the UC regents, deans, and departmental heads. The message is clear: Black lives only matter when whites take them. Black violence is expected and insoluble, while white violence requires explanation and demands solution. Please look into your hearts and see how monstrously bigoted this formulation truly is....
"Most troublingly, our department appears to have been entirely captured by the interests of the Democratic National Convention, and the Democratic Party more broadly. To explain what I mean, consider what happens if you choose to donate to Black Lives Matter, an organization UCB History has explicitly promoted in its recent mailers. All donations to the official BLM website are immediately redirected to ActBlue Charities, an organization primarily concerned with bankrolling election campaigns for Democrat candidates. Donating to BLM today is to indirectly donate to Joe Biden's 2020 campaign. This is grotesque given the fact that the American cities with the worst rates of black-on-black violence and police-on-black violence are overwhelmingly Democrat-run. Minneapolis itself has been entirely in the hands of Democrats for over five decades; the 'systemic racism' there was built by successive Democrat administrations.
"The patronizing and condescending attitudes of Democrat leaders towards the black community, exemplified by nearly every Biden statement on the black race, all but guarantee a perpetual state of misery, resentment, poverty, and the attendant grievance politics which are simultaneously annihilating American political discourse and black lives. And yet, donating to BLM is bankrolling the election campaigns of men like Mayor Frey, who saw their cities devolve into violence. This is a grotesque capture of a good-faith movement for necessary police reform, and of our department, by a political party. Even worse, there are virtually no avenues for dissent in academic circles. I refuse to serve the Party, and so should you....
"MLK would likely be called an Uncle Tom if he spoke on our campus today. We are training leaders who intend, explicitly, to destroy one of the only truly successful ethnically diverse societies in modern history. As the PRC, an ethnonationalist and aggressively racially chauvinist national polity with null immigration and no concept of jus solis increasingly presents itself as the global political alternative to the US, I ask you: Is this wise? Are we really doing the right thing? ....
"It shouldn't affect the strength of my argument above, but for the record, I write as a person of color. My family have been personally victimized by men like Floyd. We are aware of the condescending depredations of the Democrat party against our race. The humiliating assumption that we are too stupid to do STEM, that we need special help and lower requirements to get ahead in life, is richly familiar to us. I sometimes wonder if it wouldn't be easier to deal with open fascists, who at least would be straightforward in calling me a subhuman, and who are unlikely to share my race.
"The ever-present soft bigotry of low expectations and the permanent claim that the solutions to the plight of my people rest exclusively on the goodwill of whites rather than on our own hard work is psychologically devastating. No other group in America is systematically demoralized in this way by its alleged allies. A whole generation of black children are being taught that only by begging and weeping and screaming will they get handouts from guilt-ridden whites."