Recently, a headline said: The biggest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook is fake, but in this era of “fake news” it’s necessary to ask what does “fake” mean. Here, the opposite of authentic is implied, but that leads us to a series of questions.
What makes something using the BLM slogan authentic? But, before we can answer that, we have to authenticate BLM as an entity and not just an all-encompassing banner incorporating anyone that borrows the slogan.
When BLM made national headlines a few years ago a BLM website appeared. It announced: Black Lives Matter, Not a Moment, a Movement. This meant nothing. It was a slogan beside a slogan, but they also advertised: Start a local chapter.
But what did that suggest? Was BLM a national organization with local chapters and a top-down structure or was it a national “movement” with independent operations?
Then we started to see the BLM slogan with a specific location attached. We saw BLM-Dartmouth disrupting the college library, swearing at White patrons and giving them obscene gestures, and BLM-Minnesota directing immature chants at law enforcement (Pigs in a blanket fry ‘em like bacon) after the Philando Castile police shooting.
But were these antics representative of BLM as a whole?
There was no official BLM spokesperson that endorsed or condemned these activities, but political pundits and TV personalities that supported the BLM slogan promoted the autonomy of each locale to deflect criticism from the broader BLM “movement,” and not one autonomous BLM locale, no matter what they said or did, was called fake.
Then after the police shooting death of Alton Sterling a Baton Rouge police officer was injured during a protest and filed a lawsuit. The officer claimed BLM and DeRay Mckesson, a popular personality associated with the BLM movement, were responsible for the injuries he suffered at the hands of demonstrators (injuries included loss of teeth and an injured jaw).
Now, the ruling of U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson defined BLM. The judge said, “Although many entities have utilized the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ in their titles or business designations, ‘Black Lives Matter’ itself is not an entity of any sort. Therefore, all claims against ‘Black Lives Matter’ must be dismissed because social movements lack the capacity to be sued.”
Now, the Facebook page in question was anonomous, borrowed the BLM slogan, and stated that their mission was to raise awareness about racism, bigotry, police brutality and hate crimes by exposing, through social media, stories the mainstream media did not make public.
So far, what’s fake about the Facebook page? The existence of the page accomplishes the goal of raising awareness, but some of the money was transferred into Australian bank accounts (White people).
Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of BLM, stated she suspected the biggest BLM Facebook page was a scam, and they contacted Facebook months ago, and there were complaints from donors that thought they were donating to the grassroots organization. Cullors also stated, fake fundraisers diminish the real work the movement does. BLM “relies on donors who believe in our work and our cause and that money will be used in a way that is respectful.” (Does “real work” imply raising awareness is fake work? And how do you use money in a way that’s respectful? The money either finances what it was raised for or it doesn’t.)
And DeRay Mckesson said, “It’s important to remember the movement was organic and no organization started the protest that spread across the country. The consequences of that is that it hasn’t been easy to think about authenticity in the digital space.”
So, the headline stating the BLM Facebook page was fake was inaccurate. It should have said: The biggest Black Lives Matter Facebook page was a scam. Donors thought their money was going to the “real work” of the grassroots organization (a non-entity without authenticity), but the Facebook page was fake to the BLM co-founder because the money went to the wrong confidence scheme.
(J. Pharoah Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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