You may have heard recently that there has been a fair amount of friction in anti-racism activist circles—much of which has revolved around the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.
Most recently, Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, called out Until Freedom founder Tamika Mallory over her part in rapper Lil Baby’s police brutality-themed Grammy performance then later released a statement with Lisa Simpson—the mother of police violence victim Richard Risher—calling out Mallory, civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and S. Lee Merritt Merritt, Shaun King, BLM Los Angeles co-founder Melina Abdullah and Patrisse Cullors, who is the executive director the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. Rice and Simpson accused them all of “parading in the streets accumulating donations, platforms, movie deals, etc. off the deaths of our loved ones, while the families and communities are left broken.”
But no civil rights movement as massive as that of Black Lives Matter—a thing that consists of not just the global network, but also local BLM chapters in and outside of the network and anti-racism activists and organizations across America and much of the world—has ever existed without there being personal, professional and ideological differences between factions that can and do result in drama and infighting. What really defines that part of the movement is how these differences are reconciled.
On Saturday, BLMGNF leadership, including Cullors and Abdullah met with the Michael Brown Chosen For Change Foundation (CFC)—a nonprofit organization founded by the father of Michael Brown, Brown Sr., whose son arguably sparked the BLM movement after he was fatally shot by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer in 2014. Members of the two groups of activists who are fighting the same fight met in person “with hopes to initiate a relationship, reconcile any misunderstandings, and resolve any issues,” according to a statement from the CFC sent to The Root.
From the CFC statement:
BLM informed CFC that the focus of BLM will always be to end violence against black people, dismantle white supremacy, and fight for a future where black people are liberated from state sanctioned violence. BLM shared their goals and strategies to build a coalition of organizations across the globe.
CFC shared their experiences from the past six years. When a family loses a loved one to violence, that family attempts to develop new ways to live life without their loved one. The concepts of “normal” and “healing” may become elusive. For the few families whose loved ones’ deaths actually receive media attention, those families are forcibly ushered into a movement that they may or may not have been involved in previously.
While some families appreciate community leaders who have taken up the baton to organize, advocate, and fund the movement to bring awareness of their loved ones’ deaths, some may not. Many families are still seeking justice. Many families have been left alone to fight against the same systems that killed their loved ones.
The goals of impacted families may or may not always align with the goals of a movement or of a foundation. BLM appreciated the honesty in helping them understand why impacted communities and families are confused about the distribution of funding. Executive Director Cullors shared all of the ways that BLM has supported impacted families in the past and how they will continue to develop relationships and ways to support impacted families.
The CFC also made it clear that it has “no financial relationship or agreement” with BLMGNF, but the two foundations will “continue to develop a working relationship with each other,” as well as “continue to focus on fighting for justice for Mike Brown Jr. and support families impacted by community & police violence.”
Hopefully, what comes out of this meeting is more transparency and understanding between activists and anti-racism advocates, and it can lead the way to a truly unified front in the fight against systemic racism in America and all over the Black diaspora.