Why does big business back Black Lives Matter?

JP Morgan Chase in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. (Via The Saker)

Why are big corporations so solidly behind the George Floyd protests?

Apple replaced all of the radio stations on its music app with a single stream playing “Fuck the Police” on #BlackOutTuesday to show support for the protests.  Lego pulled advertising for its police-related toys.  Executives of JP Morgan Chase were photographed “taking a knee” to show support for the George Floyd protests.

Amazon, General Motors, McDonald’s, Target and other big corporations all issued statements supporting the protests.  The companies that held back are in the minority, and have been called on to explain themselves.

The two big Black Lives Matter organizations – the Black Lives Matter Global Network (not to be confused with the Black Lives Matter Foundation) and the Movement for Black Lives – have been pulling in millions of dollars in foundation grants for years.

In 2015, Borealis Philanthropy, established the Black-led Movement Fund to attract gifts from major philanthropists, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. In 2016, the Ford Foundation, announced a $40 million donation to the Movement for Black Lives for “capacity strengthening.

Last summer Ford and Borealis announced “a six-year  pooled donor campaign aimed at raising $100 million for the Movement for Black Lives coalition,” to which BLM is a central part, to support organizing efforts.f

I wasn’t able to find out exactly how much money Black Lives Matter groups have received from foundations and corporate donors, nor how much they received from grass-roots small donors.  Whatever the exact amounts, the two top groups seem to be well-funded.  The Movement for Black Lives itself announced $6.5 million in grants to local BLM organizers.

Again: Why do big corporations and wealthy philanthropists give such support for this particular cause?

The most obvious answer is: Because it is right and just.  Abuse of poor and black people by police is real, it has been going on for a long time, and it is time to end it.

Another answer is: Because it is popular.  Public opinion polls show this.  Support for the protests improves their reputations.

But there is more to it than that.  Another reason is that the Black Lives Matter movement, unlike, say, the labor movement, is no threat to cooperate revenues, profits or dividends nor to CEO salaries and bonuses.

The current anti-racism movement is not an attack on what used to be called the power structure.  Its representatives see think the source of evil is the racism of white people in general.  Its solution is to change the attitudes of white people, and to silence those it can’t change.

The movement seeks to suppress not only actively racist white people, but white people who are unwilling to be affirmatively anti-racist or who inadvertently say or do things that are perceived as racist.

This attitude is, in my opinion, a threat to basic freedoms, and also counter-productive.  If you can’t frankly discuss issues, how can you address them? It also distracts attention from the real racists.  But it is not a threat to corporate power and profit.

The Black Lives Matter movement is decentralized.  No single person or organization speaks for the whole movement., and no one person or group controls the movement.   But the BLM Global Network and Movement for Black Lives, as conduits for funds, exercise a decisive influence.

To the extent they depend on funds from the Ford Foundation and other wealthy philanthropists, they give these donors the power to set limits on how far they can go.

There is no such thing as “empowerment.”  If I can “empower” you, the real power still rests with me, not with you.  The same thing is true of the Ford Foundation and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Ford Foundation in the late 1960s gave big donations to the Black Power movement.  By doing this, the foundation promoted social change, but also set limits on how much change there could be.

He who pays the piper calls the tune.  There is a bitter joke – that Pontius Pilate could have prevented the rise of Christianity if, instead of crucifying Jesus, he persuaded Jesus to apply for funding.

I want to emphasize that I think Black Lives Matter is right to protest police abuses, including what appears to be the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd, and deserves respect for leading the protests to the point where something actually may be done about the problem.    Also, I don’t claim to know where the Black Lives Matter movement is headed.

One thing I am sure of is that, when protestors depend on big corporations and wealthy philanthropists for support, their protests will target anyone and everyone but the funders.  Rarely do people bite the hand that feeds them and, when they do, they don’t get fed for long.

Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.  Via Spiked.


Philanthropic support for Black Lives Matter

Major donors consider funding Black Lives Matter by Kenneth P. Vogel and Sarah Wheaton for POLITICO (2015)

Black Lives Matter – A Catalyst for Philanthropic Change? by Liorna Norwich for Huffington Post (2016)

The Organizational Structure of Black Lives Matter by Robert Stilson for Capital Research Center.

Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation from Influence Watch.

The Perils of Liberal Philanthropy by Karen Ferguson for Jacobin.

Corporate support for the George Floyd Protests

Woke Inc.: Why the capitalist class will be the big winners from Black Lives Matter by Fraser Myers for Spiked

Corporate Voices Get Behind ‘Black Lives Matter’ Cause by Tiffany Hsu for The New York Times.

McDonald’s, Target, Apple, other big companies speak out amid protests by Jessica Snouwaert for Business Insider.

Why are companies speaking up at this time? by Natalie Sherman for BBC News.

Why corporate America makes an unconvincing ally against racism by Amanda Holpuch for The Guardian.

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7 Responses to “Why does big business back Black Lives Matter?”

  1. Vincent Says:

    I especially liked the Isle of Man talk show:
    a shining example of open frank discussion between the host and the caller. It was of course absurd to fire the host, but in the scheme of things that’s trivial and probably reversed by now.

    Yet the American Conservative picks on the apparent silencing of the host as the main point. No the main point was that the black caller got the chance to express his anger, eloquence and intelligence.

    To say “I’ve had no more privilege in my life than you have. I’m a white man, you’re a black man you say,” is the kind of provocation a good interviewer uses, allowing his guest to refute it.

    And I’m glad that “The American Conservative” gave space for this powerful example of why BLM has been taken up worldwide. A victory for free speech, despite their trying to prove the opposite. Ridiculous to tell aspiring journalists not to bother in case found guilty of a “job-ending offense”. Journalists are there to expose the truth no matter what.

    The whole piece scores what we over the pond call “an own goal”: “an act that unintentionally harms one’s own interests.”


    • philebersole Says:

      I agree. The Isle of Man discussion between the host and the caller was a good example of open and frank discussion, which is what you listen for on talk radio.

      So why fire the host for doing his job? I hope you are justified in your confidence that he will or has got his job back.


      • Vincent Says:


        I’m glad to say that the presenter, Stu Peters, has been cleared: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-isle-of-man-53171352
        On reflection, I see that his interview could be misconstrued.

        If I were his boss, I would say this:

        “A naive listener might easily think that your denial of white privilege, as recorded in the transcript, represents your personal view.

        “I’m going to take the view that it was a technique to challenge your caller so as to invite him to explain his position.

        “You will be well aware that one of the main drivers for world-wide protest under the banner of “Black Lives Matter” is the refusal of whites to acknowledge how privileged they are by comparison with blacks.

        “Please note for the future that the interview technique would be just as powerful if you prefaced your provocative statement with ‘Some would say, and it’s not my personal view, that . . .’

        “I trust that you will, from here on, help us protect the BBC’s reputation. Otherwise . . .”

        “Trust” being English fake politeness, as in “Can I help you?” said in a certain tone to a suspected intruder.


      • philebersole Says:

        I’m glad to hear the broadcaster has been reinstated.

        I don’t think his denial of white privilege, whether or not it was his personal view, is a ground for dismissal.

        The talk show host was questioning whether racism was a serious concern on the Isle of Man. Without knowing much of anything about the Isle of Man, I’m willing to entertain the possibility that it isn’t.

        There is such a thing as white privilege in the USA, in that, on any level of society, black people on average have to put up with a lot of nonsense that white people do not. On the other hand, an affluent or middle-class black man and an affluent or middle-class white man have more life experiences in common than either one does with a poor, homeless person of their own race. At the present time, “white privilege” is often used as a red herring to divert attention from other, deeper sources of inequality.

        Such is my opinion. I could be wrong. But I wouldn’t regard being fired from my job, banned from Facebook, etc., as a convincing argument.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. conartistocracy Says:

    In UK the BLM protests have focused on removing historical statues. Most Brits have little use for statues of historical figures whose wealth was derived from slavery, but attacking the statues of Churchill, Gandhi and ancient Romans looks more like an attempt to erase our history, whose ethos over thousands of years has been throwing off tyranny.

    I wonder if BLM’s focus on historical history is intended to be a distraction from the upsurge in modern slavery. As an anti-slavery movement, why are they not concentrating on this? You can’t compensate the dead, but you would honour them by erasing slavery today.

    As the large corporations are the modern beneficiaries and promoters of worker exploitation and present day slavery, perhaps this explains why they fund BLM. The black movement – which is morally right – is in danger of being hi-jacked by the very people who are oppressing them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. conartistocracy Says:

    Perhaps big business supporting BLM is a whitewash job. https://alethonews.com/2020/07/06/woke-america-is-more-asleep-to-injustice-than-ever
    On Aletho News, WordPress

    Liked by 2 people

  4. con Says:

    Reblogged this on Citizens.


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