Monday, August 29, 2016

It's All About the Benjamins: Black Lives and the Money That Makes It Matter


I recently saw a post via Facebook stating that the Ford Motor Company was giving $100 Million dollars to the Black Lives Matter Movement.  Being the skeptic that I am, I researched and found this to be not entirely true, you know like Clinton and Trump have been doing for the last 6 months on the campaign trail as they spew their “facts” to the general public.  But what I found is quite interesting, disturbing, and even condescending.  Per the Washington Times, Ford Motor Company and Borealis Philanthropy are pledging $100 Million dollars over six years to the BLM Movement along with another $33 Million the Civil Rights organization received from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.  What and where exactly are the “allotted” funds going to do as it pertains to Black Lives mattering?
 I mean, I get it. Having grown up with my father the owner/operator of a small, Black-owned business, I understand how business works and the expenses thereof.  I imagine plenty of those funds will go to travel, legal, and operating expenses, materials, overhead, and personnel salaries, but if a Black life like mine isn’t connected with a particular chapter, more than likely the national chapter, or does not have a seat at those decision-making, camera-stealing, microphone and ambulance, I mean police car-chasing tables, how can my Black life benefit from Black Lives Matter?  And I’m not just being salty or a hater because the founders and members of the national and local chapter are getting caked-up with paper after all of the protests and bull-horning they’ve done to garner national and international opinion. 

         I actually came across something on the BLM website that was blatantly, and even disrespectfully, exclusionary under their Get Involved/Find a Chapter tab that stated the following:  Please note that #BlackLivesMatter is a network predicated on Black self-determination, and BLM Chapters reserve the right to limit participation based on principle.  Please be aware that BLM chapters have varying membership policies, and may or may not be accepting new members at this time.  The aforementioned reeks of exclusion and divisiveness.  It seems to suggest that the BLM’s criterion is set and the choice to include or exclude an individual from being a part of “the Movement” is purely subjective.  My question is, “Who is doing the picking and choosing?” and “What makes me unqualified for acceptance into the Black Lives Matter Movement?”  The bigger question is, were the liberal funders of the grant money from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation and Ford Motor Corporation vetted like those who want to be an official member of the Movement will be?  Or did the money trump their individual and collective ideologies?  I get it.  It’s all about the Benjamins, baby., the Movement’s official website, lists numerous tenants or criterion necessary for inclusion in the movement and the tenants/criterion are quite subjective in their interpretations.  It lists Diversity, Restorative Justice, Globalism, Black Women, Collective Value, Transgender Affirming, Unapologetically Black, Black Villages, Empathy, Queer Affirming, Black Families, Collective Value, Loving Engagement, and Intergenerationality as the things one must subscribe to in order to stand in solidarity with the movement as a whole.  But, after reading through their explanations, I failed to see any mention of Black Men under the exhaustive list of the Blackness in which Black Lives Matter promotes and champions. This is ironic being that the movement, and the hashtag, which to me aren't necessarily synonymous, gained its following in notoriety on the backs of the murders Black bodies, predominately males, by Blue cops.  To add to this, how does the BLM Movement include a Black Family as one of its focuses/themes yet fails to mention the Black male?  There can be no Black Family null and void of the Black man, be they be present as a father, husband, or brother. This is disingenuous at best and dreadfully exclusionary to say the least?  And please, miss me with the Black Man being a parroting clone of America’s robust tradition of white, male patriarchal ideology, rule, dominance, and subordination of the non-male, non-heterosexual American—I will argue that in another rhetorical and sociopolitical writing space at a later date. Plus, I’ve never been able to exclude nor dominate anyone or anything in my 38-years of the American experience.

     If Black Lives Matter, shouldn’t any and all things pertaining to Black Lives be listed?  I’m sure they could have considering the lengths they went to be explanatory as it pertains to the 14 criterion necessary to be in solidarity with the movement.  But my major concern is financial/economical equity, equitability, dissemination and occupational opportunity.  Is the Ford Motor Company, the Open Society Foundation and the Borealis Philanthropy Group subscribing to each and every tenant listed?  I doubt it.  But, it’s all about the Benjamins, baby. And would it not be more economically prudent to receive, and solicit, grant funding that will guarantee, promise, or earmark salaries and positions within major American companies and corporations totaling over $133 Million dollars over that 6 year period rather than the funds just being allotted to the BLM Movement to do as they wish?  Granted, I have not, nor will I ever be privy to the nuances and deliverables of the grant that was awarded, unless I apply for membership in my local city’s Black Lives Matter branch, but I’d like to know whether it is or isn’t “All about the Benjamins, baby.” 

                                                                                       -Gee Joyner