An article was published Wednesday that questioned the organization, the leadership, the purpose, the plans and the goals of Black Lives Matter. It was an article that organizers in the Movement for Black Lives say included multiple inaccuracies, and as the group seeks corrections or a retraction, it responded with an op-ed of its own to set the record straight.
In “What Happened to Black Lives Matter?” BuzzFeed reporter Darren Sands said that in the wake of Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, while the nation had the biggest outpouring of liberal activism in more than a decade, Black Lives Matter seems less visible than it was a year ago, and the movement is struggling with disputes over direction and leadership.
Sands spoke with members of groups that are part of Black Lives Matter and spoke of the history of the movement, the origins of its ideals, the people who are said to have started it and those who are perceived to lead it. There are also hints of infighting, people disillusioned with the movement and where it is headed, and questions about how it will be sustained and continued.
Organizers within the Movement for Black Lives took issue with that portrayal and wrote their own op-ed on Mic addressing the things said in Sands’ article.
“These are dangerous times for our people,” they wrote. “History tells us that we need responsible, thoughtful and brave journalism. But movements can be stopped in their tracks by uninformed and inaccurate hit pieces that trade in gossip. We must consider what we believe in, who we stand with, and what we are fighting for.”
It’s worth reading both pieces to consider the differing opinions surrounding the movement. Those who spoke on the record with Sands echoed some of his assertions, the same assertions that Movement for Black Lives seeks to clarify.
One point that Movement for Black Lives makes clear is that just as in previous movements, there is going to be conflict; not everyone is going to agree on every point or every approach, but it’s the way that conflict is handled that will dictate how far the movement can go:
We are not always in full agreement, we have competing ideas and we will undoubtedly upset each other in the process of making difficult decisions. We are here because we believe that our victories in service of black people are bigger and better when we win together.
And when we arrive at conflict, we do our best to hold each other to that standard, no matter how difficult or inconvenient. We don’t always get this right, but in order to do so, it requires all of us to hold these values.