(Or: Cooptation Alert)
On Oct. 11 Gabriel Black of wsws.org, reported:
“The Ford Foundation, one of the most powerful private foundations in the world, with close ties to Wall Street and the US government, recently announced that it is overseeing the funneling of $100 million over six years to several organizations that play leading roles in the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We’re eager to deepen and expand this community of social justice funders,” the foundation’s announcement reads. “We want to nurture bold experiments and help the movement build the solid infrastructure that will enable it to flourish.”
She then references this Fortune.com announcement of the funding in ‘Who Is Funding Black Lives Matter?’ beginning with this subconscious (?) metaphor of Ford’s new noblesse oblige project; (both are allegedly wowed by the Movement4BlackLives detailed manifesto):
“Here’s some language that would make anyone sit up straighter if they read it in a pitch deck” [a presentation for startups seeking investor capital, Black adds].”
‘The BLMF’s strategy is supported by two other components: the first is the Blackprint Strategy, a collaborative process underway to identify movement needs and resource priorities to bring $100 million in new resources to the Movement for Black Lives. The Movement Strategy Center’s Blueprint Philanthropies Project is facilitating this effort. The second component is the BLMF Organizational Development Initiative supported by Benedict Consulting and focused on supporting the organizational capacity building needs of a rapidly growing movement.’
Keep in mind that Black had offered this Ford Foundation evidence:
“A British historian of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Frances Stonor Saunders, described the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations in her book The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters as “conscious instruments of covert US policy, with directors and officers who were closely connected to, or even members of American intelligence.”
The Rockefeller Foundation pops as funders of boatloads of the mot compromised NGOs as far as I’ve learned, but even their Wiki page has categories for Green Revolution and Eugenics, ay yi yi. And yeppers, via various ‘arms’ of the project, in a long, long, breathlessly benevolent and caring announcement, the Ford Folks include this:
What philanthropy can do—and learn
“The Movement for Black Lives has created an opportunity for philanthropy to see and learn from new and dynamic forms of social justice leadership and infrastructure. To support and fund this thriving movement, philanthropy itself has had to adapt. Meanwhile, leaders have kept donors’ good intentions in check with candid reminders of how philanthropy can hurt a movement, as well as how it can help. Listening and learning is central to Ford’s approach, as we strive to be a thoughtful, effective social justice funder at this critical time.
By partnering with Borealis Philanthropy, Movement Strategy Center, and Benedict Consulting to found the Black-Led Movement Fund, Ford has made six-year investments in the organizations and networks that compose the Movement for Black Lives. We also seek to complement the important work of philanthropic allies such as the Hill-Snowden Foundation, Solidaire, the NoVo Foundation, the Association of Black Foundation Executives, the Neighborhood Funders Group–Funders for Justice, Anonymous Donors, and many more. As we continue to engage with and learn from the movement, we’re eager to deepen and expand this community of social justice funders. We want to nurture bold experiments and help the movement build the solid infrastructure that will enable it to flourish. As we do so, we believe it’s essential that our funding not dictate or distort the work underway.”
It’s not hard to see why Black says about the project:
“The contribution of such an immense sum of money is a gift from the ruling class that will allow Black Lives Matter to construct a bureaucracy of salaried staff and lobbyist positions. The influx of money will bring the movement greater influence through campaign contributions and integrate it even more closely with the Democratic Party and the corporate media.”
Noting that the Ford Foundation commands about $12.4 billion provided by wealthy donors, corporations, and death bequests. Here are the current board trustees, a colorful lot, and whoa, Nellie, noticeably among ‘the ‘“who’s who” of powerful corporate players, including CEOs and Wall Street lawyers’ Black notes.
Now Black also claims that:
“The $100 million gift is an acknowledgment by a powerful section of the ruling class that the aims of the Black Lives Matter movement are aligned with those of Wall Street and the US government.”
My alternative take is that their aim is to align the movement with Wall Street and the US Government, or even state governments. “New millennial voices/ leadership by black immigrants, men, women, and queer people of color”, etc.
Treating the movement as monolithic and racialist, she indicts their rejection of “…the notion that any other section of society has the right to raise grievances of its own. Its group history page notes: “Not just all lives. Black lives. Please do not change the conversation by talking about how your life matters, too.” Yes, their manifestos are concerned with social justice for blacks, reparations, justice not impunity for police harassment and for the murders of black people at alarming rates, and yes, some of the associated movements breeze by any particular class analysis, or specifically cite capitalism and colonialism as the major culprits, but still, I reject her monolithic condemnation that ‘they’ see the world divided on racial lines, and ‘are devoid of any genuine element of social protest or democratic struggle. ‘. Oddly, I haven’t read the comments below her essay yet…
Of the three women who’d originated the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, she says:
“One of these founders, Garza, runs an organization called the National Domestic Workers Alliance, on whose board sits Alta Starr. Starr oversees a fund at the Ford Foundation. She is also on the board of a foundation backed by billionaire George Soros, the Open Society Foundation’s Southern Initiative.
Patrisse Cullers is the director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. This organization was founded by Van Jones, a Democrat who worked under Obama as a special advisor on “green jobs, enterprise and innovation.” He is also a long time contributor to CNN. This organization also receives funds from the Open Society Foundation.” Youch.
“A leaked document from an October 2015 board meeting of the Soros-funded US Programs/Open Society revealed that the organization provided $650,000 “to invest in technical assistance and support for the groups at the core of the burgeoning #BlackLivesMatter movement.” The document notes that the board planned to discuss the difficulty of dealing with a de-centralized movement: “What happens when you want to throw a lot of money at a moment [sic], but there isn’t any place for it to go?” It was also raised that the Soros name could discredit Black Lives Matter if the public became aware of his financial support.
Many of the organizations on the list of Ford recipients are also members of the newly-formed “Movement for Black Lives,” which has published a policy agenda document centered on demands for greater government financing of black-owned businesses and institutions.”
Certainly she’s right that a section of the ruling class cultivated a base of support that ‘would be loyal to the status quo’; that’s undeniable, hello Black Misleadership class! Hello President Peace Prize! And any black activists and Al Sharpton-esque ministers who show up at street protests with voting registration forms (with the affiliation box filled in?) Pffffftt. What Black doesn’t seem to know is how many protests were very intersectional among black lives activists, school teacher strikes, Fight4Fifteen strikes, and so on. Mind you, that is the among the people on the street, not the putative ‘leaders’ of the movement on the whole. In fact, I almost gagged when I found this on Twitter, on the Blue Vest’s account, no less:
The information in the leaked Soros docs would go a long way in answering some of the burning questions in the Twittersphere as to how some of the big names are able to traverse the country for protests in various locales, though, wouldn’t it? Aside from possible TFA funding in Deray’s case, of course.
Re: the leaked Soros memo, all I could find was at Breitbart Jerusalem (?), “we reviewed these documents”, and given the Red/Blue likely component, I’d take their ‘report’ with some salt.
Digging further, I found ‘#BLM Activists Meeting with Liberal Billionaire Group for Funding’ November 16, 2015, eurweb.com (Lee Bailey?)
“Media sources cite Politico, which reports that Black Lives Matter (? link) leaders are planning to attend the annual meeting of Democracy Alliance, a secretive a group of liberal billionaires, next week in Washington. For the activists, the site notes that the purpose of attending the meeting lies in seeking funds in an effort to “[consider] ways to funnel support directly to scrappier local groups that have utilized confrontational tactics to inject their grievances into the political debate.”
Those in Democracy Alliance include billionaires George Soros, Tom Steyer and Paul Egerman.” No updates on the funding, so not exactly probative, but interesting nonetheless.
This is Ford and Borealis’s ‘grantees’ page. Mind you, there is no way to now if, or how many, of the groups have accepted their grant monies, but I admit that I groaned when I’d seen the Blackout Collective (Oakland) on the list. They are bold protestors, black, and queer women aided by allies of many colors.
Worker unity, anti-capitalist class struggle acknowledgement, yes! I believe that this is the major danger of this funding: cooptation toward the DemocRats. Dunno about you, but I’ve Been VanJonesed and DemocRatted, ProgressiveCauCussed and LibrulFatcatted Till I’m Blind….
But this is seriously cool:
a little bit ‘o fun from Commie hip-hop rapper artist Boots Riley: