It’s probably a good question, before we go forward on a wider cultural discussion that involves unanimous consent for the three-word construct “black lives matter,” what those words really mean. The phrase itself, unless your views on race and culture are rebarbative, is axiomatic and has been since it was coined over a half-decade ago. You could plug almost any group into the blank space in “_______ lives matter” and you’d be right. This isn’t what it means.
The general conclusion we’ve reached over the gut-wrenching past few weeks, ever since the events leading up to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody was available to watch by anyone with a cell phone, is that it means something nebulous-ish involving the force of the state being brought to bear on people of color in an inappropriate manner. The problem is that “nebulous-ish” part. The group Black Lives Matter was never quite just an official organization, it also wasn’t just a hashtag. This means that while it currently has one foot in mainstream acceptance, another foot remains in its roots as an organization on the far-ish reaches of the left.
If you wanted evidence of this residual hard-leftist slant, you need have looked no further than Patrisse Cullors’ appearance on CNN on Friday. Cullors was one of the founders of the movement back in 2013 and has remained one of its most prominent voices, which means she’s in demand again. On Friday, she appeared on CNN to discuss the movement and what its goals were. You may not be surprised at one of them:
During the interview on “The Lead,” Jake Tapper and his perma-scrunched face asked Cullors just what is it she wanted to do — at least when it came to the election.
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“I’ve heard a lot of criticism of former Vice President Joe Biden from civil rights activists,” Tapper said.
“The election, obviously, will be a choice. How do you think Biden matches up compared to President Trump when it comes to these issues that are important to you?”
“Trump not only needs to not be in office in November, but he should resign now,” Cullors said.
“Trump needs to be out of office. He is not fit for office. And so what we are going to push for is a move to get Trump out. While we’re also going to continue to push and pressure Vice President Joe Biden around his policies and relationship to policing and criminalization. That’s going to be important. But our goal is to get Trump out.”
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In other words, at a basic level, this isn’t really about black lives — at least not for Cullors. After all, if Cullors’ belief is that all black people are in danger from a bigoted law enforcement structure, the obvious choice would be to work not only with white allies but also black individuals who make common cause with Trump on enough issues to vote for him.
And even though the possibility that Trump has support among black voters, polling from as recently as June 5 shows the incumbent president with black support that should give Democrats nightmares.
Of course, Democrats won’t buy that number. And the mainstream media won’t be trying to sell it. But the point is, Rasmussen is a respectable polling organization. If Trump is running at 40 percent black voter support — or even half that number — he’s getting more support in that segment of the electorate than leftists believe.
And if that Rasmussen number is anywhere near correct, the woman who is accepted as speaking for Black Lives Matter is ignoring a substantial number of actual black lives in the United States. But building unity in the black community, or even reaching out to black Trump supporters, is not what this wing of Black Lives Matter is about. It’s about beating Donald Trump.
Now, the thing with Black Lives Matter is that Cullors does not — in fact, cannot — speak for the entire movement. That’s a weakness, both when it comes to organization and leadership, but it’s a strength when it comes to nailing down the protean nature of the organization. Black Lives Matter is more than just a slogan, but the great thing for its principals is that it’s like a slogan: It means exactly what you want it to mean.
It’s also good to know that at the same time Black Lives Matter is demanding redress for centuries-old issues, it’s ostensibly throwing its weight behind the Democratic Party, which was — in some of our lifetimes — the party of segregation and Jim Crow. (And as a relatively young senator in the 1970s, Biden had no problems buddying up to some of its most segregationist members.)
Cullors ignores this racist history.
And notice how Cullors makes it clear that her group needs to need to “pressure Vice President Joe Biden around his policies and relationship to policing and criminalization.” In other words, they know the former veep’s record around policing in this country
But this is just one voice, you may say. True — and therein lies the advantage.
Black Lives Matter is whatever you think it is, at least when it’s ingratiating itself to the public. Give its members a modicum of power, however, and you’ll see that change posthaste, especially in the run-up to the 2020 election.
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