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Who Speaks on Behalf of Black Lives Matter?

People protest in support of “Black Lives Matter” in New York, N.Y., June 30, 2020. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

In response to this post, a few readers write in, observing that Black Lives Matter, the movement, is larger than, and not always entirely aligned with, the BlackLivesMatter Global Network Foundation. The BLM Global Network Foundation runs the Instagram account that published their statement about Cuba, placing all of the blame for Cuba’s problems on the U.S. embargo, and saying nothing about the regime’s crackdown on dissent. (Keep in mind, most of the rest of the world, including many U.S. allies, trades with Cuba. The embargo is less effective than its advocates claim and less brutal than its critics contend.)

As the Capital Research Center summarized:

The BLM Global Network Foundation began 2020 as a fiscally sponsored project of Thousand Currents, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that had served as its sponsor since 2016. But as CRC first reported in July, that sponsorship was transferred to the Tides Center, one of a group of related left-of-center nonprofits that had combined 2019 revenues in excess of $800 million. Even more interesting, perhaps, is an Associated Press report from February 2021 revealing that the BLM Global Network Foundation had been granted its own IRS tax-exempt status in December 2020. This means that going forward it will be required to file Form 990 returns with the IRS.

(Note that the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is different and distinct from the Black Lives Matter Foundation.)

Conservatives should not quickly dismiss the argument that Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation doesn’t accurately reflect the views of the broader Black Lives Matter movement. Back in 2009-2010, there were a lot of organizations that labeled themselves “Tea Party,” and claimed to speak on behalf of the nationwide movement . . . even if the views of those group’s leaders did not necessarily accurately reflect the views of the broader movement. As one campaign finance lawyer concluded in 2016, “the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.” When you have a broad, popular movement, just about anybody can show up and claim they speak on behalf of a movement.

That said, if those who think of themselves as members of the Black Lives Matter movement think the BLM Global Network Foundation statement about Cuba was wrongheaded and neglected abhorrent police abuses in Cuba . . . it would probably be a good idea to come out and say so.

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