As Breitbart News reported, President Obama defended Black Lives Matter at the Panel Discussion on Criminal Justice Reform at the White House Thursday, saying, “Sometimes, like any of these loose organizations, some people pop off and say dumb things.”
However, the three self-described “queer women” who founded Black Lives Matter have made it abundantly clear that the group is not a ragtag, spontaneous movement, but rather the work of experienced community organizers working with unions and educators with the goal of reenergizing radical Black Liberation politics in the black community.
In a video that shows Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza speaking at the 2015 Voting Rights Conference in Durham, North Carolina, Garza explains how the movement relates to the founders’ community organizing experience and how they organized during the Ferguson protests.
Far from being a “loose organization,” Garza lays out the group’s background and master plan with the precision of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur planning a product launch, saying:
When we created Black Lives Matter, our intention—as three organizers who worked in labor organizing, immigrant rights organizing, and police and prison organizing—began Black Lives Matter as an organizing network, and we used a series of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to connect people online so we could take actions together offline. We understood from the very beginning that clicking ‘Like’ or retweeting was not organizing, and it’s not movement building. [emphasis added]
Garza continues to explain how the founders planned to “innovate” by connecting the growing network of young black people online in a real world movement, saying, “But we also understand that there are a growing amount of people—particularly our people—that are very active online and that are looking for a way to plug in and that we thought we could innovate by being able to say, ‘Well, you’re doing this here and you’re doing this here and right now y’all know each other on social media, but what would it look like for y’all to be working together on the ground [emphasis added]?’”
“We intended Black Lives Matter to be a hub for connection, for Black Lives Matter to be a platform to tell our own stories in our own voices,” Garza says. “And for Black Lives Matter to be a platform also to reenergize radical politics in our community [emphasis added].”
Garza also brags in her talk about the group’s successes, including how they bused in 500 people to the Ferguson protests and were able to “mobilize” the black media in order to get more press coverage, in addition to discussing the group’s meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus.
On Thursday, President Obama also said, “I think the reason that the organizers used the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ was not because they were suggesting nobody else’s lives matter.”
However, in an article on Feminist Wire, Garza spoke to the issue of why the movement is adamant on saying “black lives matter” uniquely:
…more importantly, when Black people cry out in defense of our lives, which are uniquely, systematically, and savagely targeted by the state, we are asking you, our family, to stand with us in affirming Black lives. Not just all lives. Black lives.
Obama’s whitewash of Black Lives Matter appears to be especially dishonest since one of the group’s other co-founders, Patrisse Cullors, has claimed to have met with the President—something that Breitbart News has reported, which seems to be confirmed by White House visitor records.
In this video, Cullors—wearing a Palestinian Kaffiyeh scarf—told a British interviewer, “We’re going into halls of power now. Many of us are meeting with mayors or meeting with local government. Some of us have met with President Obama himself to talk about the demands [emphasis added].”
In the same interview, Cullors says that the group “challenges law enforcement in particular.”