Author: Carol

The Black Lives Matter Movement Is a Pyramid-shaped Organization

The Black Lives Matter Movement Is a Pyramid-shaped Organization

Column: Campaigns flood us with reductive racial rhetoric. How can we push back?

I’m here at the end of one of the most troubling years of my life. What happened with the Black Lives Matter movement? I mean, the movement, the slogan, the movement. The movement that was supposed to inspire the nation and was supposed to unify us as a nation. The movement that was supposed to speak to us in a new way.

It didn’t.

Instead we got a movement that was, by and large, a collection of a few people, a few slogans, a few symbols, and a few memes that, for many, were simply taken and turned into a movement. (I’m going to spare myself some time and the reader from having to endure my own rant about the meaning of the memes, but I also think that is something that can be addressed separately, in a separate post.)

And what I find most troubling, and most troubling for many of my friends and peers, is the lack of any genuine political and organizing activity in the movement.

What are we supposed to know about what we’re supposed to do if we’re really a movement?

The answer that the organizers of Black Lives Matter offer is that you need to start by doing what they did – you need to get organized. You need to go out, join a coalition, get to know your neighbors, and start talking as a group. All of that is the next to last step.

But if that’s all you’re doing, what’s the point?

You do get organized. You get to know your neighbors. You start getting involved with political issues. That’s the answer. And, yes, that’s the first step.

Well, now, I have a theory about why that is the answer:

We’re too white.

The black and brown people I know don’t have the resources, time, and energy to get organized.

So what they do is they join movements that appeal to their interests, that appeal to both their interests and the interests of people like them. In fact, it’s kind of like a pyramid-shaped organization. The people in the “lower” strata of this pyramid, the lowest stratum, are the ones who are willing to

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