Over the past few months, the deaths of African American citizens, such as Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, at the hands of police have inspired a spike in interest and knowledge of systemic racism and police brutality among communities. These incidents have led to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, and caused supporters to stand up and speak out against these actions.
This organized movement advocates for non-violent civil disobedience by protesting against actions of police brutality, as well as protesting for the people that have been affected by police brutality. The rise of protests around the nation has also led to the rise of the popularity and importance of organizations who advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have gained popularity over this time, and have been using their resources and materials to help advocate for the movement and to help the protesters in their community.
The rise of this movement has sparked people to donate to foundations and organizations related to its mission, but over the last couple of days there has been a great deal of confusion between what foundations people actually want to donate to.
One organization in particular that has been on everyone’s mind is the Black Lives Matter Global Network. The BLM Global network was originally founded in 2013 in response to the exoneration of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Also active in the United Kingdom and Canada, the Global Network strives to abolish white supremacy rooted in communities and build local power for Black communities. On June 11, 2020, they announced a $6.5 million fund to support grassroots organizing work. The Global Network works closely with Thousand Currents, which “provides the legal and administrative framework to enable BLM to fulfill its mission” and is commonly utilized by nonprofit organizations in order to have fiscal sponsorship. The Global Network uses social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter to educate and provide information and other useful resources to their followers and anyone else who visits their accounts. The Global Network has also worked with countless other organizations in order to stay true to their mission statement, but one organization took many by surprise once its true nature was revealed..
The Black Lives Matter Foundation, a Santa Clarita organization created in 2015 by Robert Ray Barnes, has caused much uproar by BLM supporters over the past few weeks. This is a foundation which people have been donating to, thinking that it is in direct affiliation with the Global Network due to the similarity in names. However, this is not the case. The Foundation’s ultimate goal is to help bring the police and the community closer together and save lives, and strives to use their resources along with their unique and creative ideas such as coffee meetings and dinners with police members, to help accomplish this end goal.
The BLM movement and Global Network have long advocated for the defunding of police departments across the nation, using the term “All Cops Are Bastards” to describe the corrupt policing system in America. The BLM Foundation, however, does not seem to hold this belief. Rather, Robert Ray Barnes, the creator of the organization and a past victim of police brutality, believes in bringing cops and their communities together to provide change for the nation and its people. Barnes plans to hold sit-downs with cops along with other events to decrease the rift between the people and law enforcement. GoFundMe as well as other sources who publicized the foundation have put the foundation on hold for now due to the uprising outburst of disapprovement and confusion.
More than $4 million was raised by this foundation, contributed by many people and even large corporations. Many people who have already donated money for the cause stand firmly in support for the term ACAB, as well as the defunding of police. They were not aware of the foundation’s true mission when they donated and thought that it is directly affiliated with the BLM Global Network. While talking to Buzzfeed News Reporter Ryan Mac, Barnes states that there has been no spending of money just yet, as he seems to be collecting money for a figurative plan. Now that more clarity has been shone upon this foundation, people who have donated are demanding for their money back. In response, Barnes “thinks that it’s a rare occurrence that the money that was sent to him was a mistake, and so [he] hasn’t committed either way”.
The BLM Global Network recently came out and issued a statement on the confusion between the two organizations. While talking to Buzzfeed, the Global Network stated that “the Santa Clarita group is improperly using our name” and that “[they] intend to call them out and follow up.” Barnes then defended his foundation by saying that “no one owns the concept”. Many people who supported and donated to the foundation, such as avid protesters and supporters, are shocked and wish they had known sooner, and many still don’t know the startling difference between the two.
Through Teen Lenses: Are you aware of the difference between the BLM global network and the BLM foundation? If yes, what were you most appalled about and why?
“I haven’t seen much about it but when I heard about it I was confused because it’s so misleading and I was most appalled by the difference in their mission statements regarding action toward the police and just disappointed by the fact that so many people including myself donated to an organization/foundation that stands for the opposite of the organization we meant to donate to. It’s frustrating and I don’t know enough about the matter to understand all of it but I feel like the BLM foundation could have reported this earlier and this should have been vocalized more because I didn’t know about it until recently.” Anna Daraselia, 16, Rising Senior at Thomas S. Wootton High School
“Without searching it up, I’m not sure that I know the difference. I’m pretty sure the BLM foundation is the one that has been spearheading this movement.” Carrie Wang, 15, Rising Junior at Thomas S. Wootton High School
“I believe I do vaguely understand the issue. What I’m most appalled about is not necessarily with the organizations but rather with the people contributing towards them. Ignorance appears to be a big issue when it comes to activism. A lot of folk looking to support the cause do not adequately understand where their money or unequivocal support is actually going to. However, organizations have a tendency to mislead contributors. Furthermore, it is their responsibility to explicitly see what they are supporting the full transparency and no ambiguity.” Atharva Sapre, 15, Rising Junior at Dominion High School
“I had no idea there was any difference between the global network and foundation. But from what I remember it is the foundation that has been the most prevalent these days.” Dylan Safai, 16, Rising Junior at Thomas S. Wootton High School
“I know that there is a difference, I’m just not sure which one’s which. I think the BLM foundation is the one that apparently is a ‘scam.’ I saw on Twitter someone expose the difference and many people had donated to the foundation and not the network, or maybe it was the other way around, but I’m not 100% sure.” Gaby Chardichon, 16, Rising Junior at Churchill High School