“Black Lives Matter” (BLM) is not only a slogan but also a movement and an organization that the Christian cannot support. The founders of the movement are Patrise Cullors, a “queer activist” married to a woman; Alicia Garza, another “queer activist” married to a transgender man, that is, to a woman who identifies as a man; and Opal Tometi, a Nigerian-American human rights activist. Two events, both perceived injustices, sparked the creation of the organization: the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of African- American youth, Trayvon Martin, in Florida (July 2013); and the shooting of Michael Brown, another African-American teenager, by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri (August 2014), in which case local and federal grand juries ruled the shooting justified.
Two more events have revived the public profile of BLM. The first is the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, 2020; while the second is the shooting of Rayshard Brooks by an officer in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 12, 2020. In both cases, the dead man was an African- American (black) and the police officers were charged with murder.
I do not intend to comment on the merits of the charges filed against the police officers. My concern is with the Black Lives Matter movement itself.
The mission of Black Lives Matter
The following citations come from the “about” section of the BLM website:
#BlackLivesMatter…is a global organization whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.
We affirm the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum.
We are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise.
The “What We Believe” section of the Black Lives Matter website states:
All Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.
We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege.
We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered.
We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement.
We foster a queer-affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking.
To summarize, the BLM movement wants to disrupt and dismantle the nuclear family (that is, it seeks the destruction of the family that consists of a male father, a female mother, and children). The BLM movement seeks to empower blacks by securing their access to “reproductive justice” (that is, abortion— unwanted, unborn black lives do not matter, therefore). The BLM movement rejects biblical ethics: it opposes heteronormativity, the idea that heterosexuality is normal and preferable; and cisgenderism, the idea that one’s gender identity and expression should match one’s biological gender. The BLM movement is rebellious: it aims at the destruction of the supposedly “white supremacist” structures of society. We see this in the demand for the removal of historical monuments of anyone associated with America’s or Europe’s “oppressive” pasts. This rebellion is evident in attacks upon the police and in a campaign to defund the police. This rebellion is evident in widespread rioting and looting, and in the destruction of property and lives in American cities in the wake of George Floyd’s death, which protests, demonstrations, and riots have spread across the world.
Well meaning Christians, who rightly abhor racism, and who want to improve the lives of racial minorities, and who are tempted to donate time, resources, and money to BLM, should be aware that the movement is inherently anti-Christian.
The philosophical background to BLM
In 2015 Patrise Cullors stated, “We actually do have an ideological frame. Myself, Alicia [Garza] in particular, we’re trained organisers. We’re trained Marxists. We are super versed on ideological theories.” The founders of BLM are not traditional Marxists, but cultural Marxists. Karl Marx (1818-1883) viewed history as a struggle between the bourgeoisie (the capitalist class who own most of society’s wealth and control the means of production) and the proletariat (the working class who suffer oppression under the capitalist system). Marx encouraged the workers of the world to overthrow their capitalist overlords, something that happened to a degree under communism in the Soviet Union and elsewhere.
Why did communism not spread across the globe? The answer is that a cultural hegemony, a term coined by Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), exists in the West, which protected capitalism. Hegemony is the dominance of one group over another. Cultural hegemony is dominance maintained through cultural institutions. To state it very simply, Gramsci viewed the common people as victims of a system that is inherently, and irredeemably, unjust. If a person belongs to a group favored by the hegemony, he is privileged, while one belonging to a group not favored by the hegemony is a victim.
Moreover, in cultural Marxism the individual matters less than the group: a white, heterosexual man is by definition “privileged,” while others are by definition “victims” of the hegemony. One is an oppressor, while the other is oppressed. Racism is institutional and systemic, whether we are aware of it or not (“unconscious bias”), not a matter of personal behavior. Therefore, a white, heterosexual male has “white privilege” and “white guilt” for which he must make atonement, which is why we witness white people “taking a knee” in front of crowds of BLM protestors in order to do penance for their “whiteness.”
In fact, there are layers of oppression. Oppressions intersect, a theory called “intersectionality” so that, for example, women experience one level of oppression because they live in a patriarchal society infused with “toxic masculinity,” while black women experience further oppression because of systemic racism, and black lesbians experience a third measure of oppression because of heteronormativity, while a black transgender experiences the most oppression because of the struggles against a system that favors cisgenderism. Witness the “Black Trans Lives Matter” protests that have sprung up recently, such as the 15,000-strong protest in Brooklyn, New York, in June 2020.
If BLM is based on cultural Marxism, their answer is not to address the behaviors of young black males in the inner cities, where fatherless homes, gang violence, and black-on-black homicides are serious moral issues, for to address the behaviors of young black males, who are more likely to be involved in crime, more likely to have negative police interactions, and more likely to be incarcerated, is victim blaming. The answer is to assess group inequalities; assign blame (to the white, patriarchal hegemony—the “system”) for the disparate outcomes; and then redistribute power and resources to disadvantaged groups.
In cultural Marxism, then, individual responsibility is jettisoned because the wealth and power of the privileged have been gained unjustly and must be redistributed to the underprivileged groups. Thus we hear calls to defund the police, an institution belonging to the hegemony, in order to reinvest the police budget into the underprivileged black community. Inequality is never due to differences in behavior, but always due to systemic oppression. People cannot be held personally responsible for their crimes and sins, but they must be viewed only as victims of an unjust system.
Cultural Marxists view their mission as dismantling the cultural hegemony. To do this they must gain control of the narrative (the importance of political correctness, which controls people’s speech, and is increasingly enforced through “hate speech” legislation); they must gain control of the flow of information (hence their dominance in the media with the censorship of opposing viewpoints); they must gain control of education (the indoctrination of the youth); and they must gain control of the branches of government (the executive, legislative, and judicial branches), thus seizing power from the cultural hegemony and returning it to the oppressed, where it rightfully belongs.
Read the BLM website through the lens of cultural Marxism and you will notice the buzzwords. When the website states, “[our] mission is to eradicate white supremacy,” the meaning is the destruction of the hegemony that allegedly victimizes blacks. When they speak of “building local power” they refer to a transfer of power to disadvantaged groups. When they speak of “dismantling cisgender privilege,” they fight for a society in which sexual minorities are empowered, so that behavior traditionally condemned is celebrated, and where those who still disapprove are marginalized and silenced. Therefore, the traditional family must be destroyed and society transformed.
The Christian response to BLM
We are tempted to respond to BLM with “All Lives Matter,” but to a cultural Marxist all lives do not matter. In fact, the life of the individual does not matter, especially if he cannot claim victim status. Lives and deaths are exploited in order to overthrow the cultural hegemony. That is why BLM activists rarely protest the black babies murdered in abortion clinics or intraracial killings in cities such as Chicago, but they will mobilize protests to express outrage when a black man dies in an encounter with law enforcement. One is a fight against the cultural hegemony, while the other is not.
Martin Luther King Jr. famously dreamed of a nation where his children would “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” BLM destroys King’s dream—a man is judged only by the color of his skin.
Moreover, the ‘gospel’ of BLM is graceless. There is no forgiveness: there is only guilt because of the sins of the cultural hegemony to which one belongs, which guilt can never be removed. And if one does not belong to the cultural hegemony, then one is only a victim— never a sinner. Black Lives Matter offers only vengeance, destruction, and lifelong penance with no hope of final redemption.
In reality, redemption comes only through the blood of Jesus Christ. It is only in the Christian church where true unity exists, where so many disparate groups and natural enemies are united in Christ Jesus. In Paul’s day Jews and Gentiles, Roman citizens and barbarians, male and female, and even slaves and slave owners worshiped the same Lord, confessed the same faith, and partook of the same Lord’s Supper. In the church, believing, penitent sinners of all types are one in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:14; Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11).