There have been accusations recently about the BLM movement being “co-opted” by white leftists. People on social media have displayed evidence that they believe shows white leftists hijacking the movement for their own purposes. The irony with this belief is that the movement is indeed being hijacked, but not by leftists. It is regular run of the mill liberals trying to co-opt the BLM movement.
Media talking heads have alluded to the idea that white anarchists are trying to co-opt the movement for their own agenda. It leaves me wondering what the agenda is? What do white leftists support that black protest organizers do not? You might be hard-pressed to find differences here. Black organizers after all are overwhelmingly leftists.
Why would white leftists want to co-opt a movement when the fundamentals of that movement are in line with what they already believe? Why would I, or any other, white leftist need to hijack a movement where the leadership already agrees with our positions? I mean, just listen to the protest organizers. You will see that there is not a lot of disagreement coming from white leftists in terms of ideology.
Look at the speeches by the black protest organizers. They openly call for the abolition of policing in its current form. They have criticized the totality of systemic racism, not just police brutality. Some of their criticisms have also been directed at capitalism. Many protest organizers have tied systemic racism to capitalism. One cannot survive without the other.
Online liberals have been so quick to say, “you need to listen to black people.” On the surface this is fine, in fact something I would encourage. The irony here is, the same liberals who say these things clearly have not been listening to the protest organizers.
These same online liberals, criticizing “white leftists” for trying to co-opt the message of the movement, are doing exactly that. The same people who say “we need to listen to black people” are in the same breath saying, “this is not the right message for the movement. Try using this message instead.”
The Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, was asked by protesters if he would support abolishing the police, “yes or no.” He tried to dodge the question, forced to eventually admit “no.” The protesters were not pleased and chased him away immediately. This is a white liberal politician, asked to listen to the demands of black-led protesters.
There has been little criticism from the liberal establishment toward Frey’s response. If it is prudent for us to listen to concerns of black people (which it is) then why are Frey and other liberals allowed not to and pretend like they are? I would try to teach these liberals about irony, but I am afraid they would try and kill it.
I have seen plenty of videos where white liberals in these protests cheer endlessly when a speaker says, “Black Lives Matter!” And yet, they grow awfully quiet when the speakers say something like, “white liberals are the problem too.” Worse yet, when they say, “systemic racism is the brother of capitalism.”
Establishment liberals, for the most part, do not believe that systemic racism and capitalism are connected. They might admit that they overlap from time to time, but economic inequality and racism are two fundamentally different issues. They are not.
Many black scholars, one way or another, agree that systemic racism cannot be defeated unless we address the inequalities inherent in capitalism. This was a cornerstone of both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr’s ideology. Writers like James Baldwin, Du Bois, Angela King, and others have expressed similar ideas. Discussing the connection between capitalism and systemic racism is a key component of black civil rights discourse, has been for a long time.
The issue here is that classic liberals fundamentally believe in the soundness of our system. They will agree that reforms are needed overtime, but these reforms must be incremental. They also believe in the fundamental goodness of the capitalist economy.
Liberals are a part of the capitalist class. They tend to be white-collar suburbanites and retirees, people who benefit or have benefited from capitalism. Attacking capitalism means attacking them as well. That is exactly why liberals are doing everything possible to steer the conversation about racism away from capitalism. If it gets accepted that systemic racism and capitalism are interconnected, then the liberals of the capitalist class can easily become defined as the enemy. The last thing the capitalist class wants is for protests about police brutality to mushroom into winder conversations of class consciousness.
We have seen a huge wave of corporations trying to capitalize on the protests. Companies like Amazon are posting “Black Lives Matter”, people like Mitt Romney are leading their own marches shouting, “Black Lives Matter.” There are Instagram influencers taking advantage to gain clout on the internet (which ultimately profits them). Pepsi, Facebook, Netflix, and even Peloton are adopting the BLM message for their companies.
Keep it real; if the phrase Black Lives Matter has gotten safe enough for Mitt Romney to use then it is probably time to question where the soul of this movement is heading. Do not think for a second companies like Amazon or Facebook are using the phrase because they genuinely feel solidarity with the protesters. Corporations have no morality. This is all a marketing ploy, designed to CO-OPT the protest movement for profit. There is also something else happening here.
We are seeing Democrats on Capitol Hill starting to co-opt the phrases and imagery of the protesters. Though, it must be said, Democratic leaderships recent photo-op was cringe beyond belief. The Democratic Party wants to co-opt the movement for their own aims. Electoral politics.
Democrats and Democratic operatives are using the message of, “if you’re mad, don’t just protest. Go vote!” There in lies the real agenda here. The Democrats do not care about the plight or demands of the protesters. They never have. This is clear based on the weak sauce bill they proposed to deal with police brutality. That alone shows they are not listening to the protesters. They want to co-opt the protests simply to use them against Trump in the upcoming election.
It is obvious that most of the protesters have no love for Donald Trump. They also do not seem to have much love for Democrats either. The mayor of Minneapolis was chased away by protesters when he said he would not defund the police. This movement is not about electoral politics, but that is exactly what the Democrats want to turn it into. They want to weaponize the protests against Trump. Once the election is over, Democrats will quietly pull their support.
Liberals and the corporate status-quo want to co-opt the BLM movement. The ultimate goal is to weaken the movement and use it only for limited aims that won’t disrupt the system as it is. Make no mistake, the second Joe Biden gets into office is when Democrats and liberals will quickly drop their support for the protests and tell everyone to go home and back to sleep. If this is what protest organizers want, then fair enough. Something tells me, however, this is not what their vision of the movement is.