If you think the Black Lives Matter movement is just or even primarily about “Black Lives,” then you don’t understand the movement.

A new research report, based on detailed interviews with those active in the movement, demonstrates that the organized movement is a vehicle for a radical leftist anti-Capitalist agenda, using “Black Lives” as the hook.

The research is by Anne Sorock of The Frontier Lab using a “deep values” methodology. Several years ago Anne was a regular contributor to Legal Insurrection, but that has fallen off as she devoted herself The Frontier Lab.

Deep values research is something pioneered by Dr. Brian Wansink at the Food & Brand Lab at Cornell University. Anne received her MBA at Cornell and worked with that group. Deep values research seeks to understand not just what consumers like or want, but what deeply held values lead to such decisions.

At The Frontier Lab, Anne applies those research methods to politics.

We have highlighted previously her analysis of why people decide to become politically activeOccupy movement participants’ motivations, and why Republicans won’t call themselves Republican, among others. Anne also years ago interviewed Legal Insurrection readers to understand the deep values of why people visit Legal Insurrection. (Perhaps I’ll share those findings with you in a later post.)

Now Anne has researched the Black Lives Matter movement, and released a report, Black Lives Matter – The Privileged and the Oppressed (full embed at bottom of post).

While the report details the methodology, I asked Anne to explain the methodology in light of likely criticism that people should not give credence to a white woman writing about blacks. She responded by detailing that her information and data come from active participants in the movement themselves:

We began our process by seeking out high-intensity supporters of Black Lives Matter
through two channels: an online survey targeting young Americans aged 18-34 about
their involvement with, and enthusiasm for, the Black Lives Matter movement. We
were seeking those with high-intensity support for Black Lives Matter and who had
been involved with the organization either as an organizer or activist – attended an
event, been to a meeting, joined a Facebook support group, etc.

We used this survey instrument to identify and then contact 47 strong supporters of Black Lives Matter whom we probed at-length about the meaningful underlying reasons for attachment in 30- to60-minute telephone interviews and written questionnaires.

The interviews employ the“Laddering” in-depth interview market-research methodology. We also advertised a separate screener survey on the Facebook pages of Black Lives Matter and the Black Youth Project (a separate but affiliated organization) to recruit more interviewees.

Recognizing that most people will not want to wade through a lengthy report, I asked Anne for her 3 Big Takeaways, here’s what she listed:

  • Black Lives Matter is a vehicle for consolidating decades of unfulfilled and disparate goals of the left “Oppression” and “privilege” are the updated terms to described the “Haves” and the “have-nots” Privilege restricts free speech in a subtler but more powerful way than use of force
  • Despite positioning itself as counter to the “system,” they simply want to take the system over for their own ends Activists who are not black are termed “allies,” refer to themselves as such, and admit to reacting to a culture of fear, driven primarily by the fear of being ostracized from the left’s cultural community, “Allies” reported that their motivation for joining, in addition to avoiding community exclusion, was to promote their own “oppression” by tethering it to that of the black community.
  • Operatives shared that one of their greatest fears was activists perceiving that the movement was not driven by black leadership but instead “the same old” Civil-Rights-era types with a diversity of backgrounds. They feel it is important to distinguish the movement from the “failed” Civil Rights era movements, which did not achieve the operatives of BLM’s goal: “radical social upheaval.”

The Report itself lists 10 key insights:

  1. Black Lives Matters core message is built upon, depends upon, and has as its ultimate goal, the larger retelling of the American story as one of oppression and racism.
  2. The police, as representatives of the state, must be messaged as exemplifying the Black Lives Matter framing by being themselves oppressive and racist.
  3. Black Lives Matter frames their cause as one against a systemic problem and necessarily utterly rejects the one bad apple counterargument BLM relies upon the elevation and equating of other underprivileged groups to a status just as oppressed as Black America in order to build a narrative of an America divided into the Oppressed and the Privileged. For this reason causes such as undocumented workers, LGBTQ, and womens reproductive rights, are recruited and welcomed into the Allies category of supporters (see below).
  4. Supporters of BLM, for the most part, have moved on from desiring to silence dissent through amending free-speech laws; instead, Black Lives Matter (1) pressures authorities to do it for them, (2) creates an atmosphere of intimidation through threats of violence and shows of force, and (3) incorporates a culture of self-censorship in which those with privilege have a lesser voice than the oppressed.
  5. While social-media and cameras are utilized uniquely and effectively to communicate with and recruit new supporters, it is the framework of organizing learned from past attempts and overarching magnanarrative that in reality gives Black Lives Matter its edge.
  6. There are three distinct segments of supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, each with their own emotional pathways to a deeply felt connection: Activists, Allies, and Operatives.
  7. These mental maps explain current reasons for support as well as provide strategic pathways for weakening that same support.
  8. Common across all segments is the emotion of fear of being ostracized from the lefts cultural community.
  9. The specificity of the cause injustice toward the Black community is both central to its appeal and also a window into an Achilles-heel weakness of the movements core positioning.
  10. The movement is at a critical juncture in its lifecycle, with maximum cultural influence but having failed to transition this influence into policy impact.

In the Report, Anne addresses the motivations of “allies” and confirms that many non-blacks participate as a way of virtue signalling:

Frontier Lab Black Lives Matter Prototype Operative

The Black Lives Matter Allies segment hopes to make amends for a sense of  privilege and accompanying guilt through their involvement with Black Lives Matter. Allies told us one of most fulfilling aspects of their connection to Black Lives Matter was that it afforded them the opportunity to demonstrate to their peers that they were actively pursuing good. It is important that they demonstrate their solidarity with Black protesters and in doing so make amends for their culpability as unfairly privileged members of society.

The most important aspect to me, and one I see play out on campuses, is what Anne calls RETELLING THE AMERICAN STORY, an attempt portray the American experience as irreversibly negative:

Black Lives Matter’s core message is built upon, depends upon, and has as its ultimate goal, the larger retelling of the American story as one of oppression and racism. There are two narratives that describe the foundational story of America, and they diverge both in how they view the past and the path they offer for the future.

The first is that America’s story is an attempt to match the institution of government with the premise that all men are created equal – that the system equalizes us and unites us through the law (Constitution) and that, despite failures to always deliver on this promise, the spirit of the country has been a departure from other cultures’ impediments to advancement. The second presents a different view: an America of competing groups that should not place their faith in the law (or a promise of equal treatment), for the system—the governing structures rooted in the Constitution—are designed to preserve elites’ power and preclude the rest of society from achieving equal status.

The second story, the story of division and systemic injustice, is the foundation for the Marxist “Haves and Have-Nots” class division, and reveals the philosophical underpinnings of the Black Lives Matter movement are deeply entwined with far-left Marxist ideology.

Anne also details the passive-aggressive, and sometimes aggressive, methods to silence dissent:

First, Black Lives Matter has created an atmosphere where forces more emotionally compelling than “truth-seeking” encourage fealty through the threatened stigma of being an outsider, and discourage diversity of opinion. Through our research, we found that both the Activists and the Allies were united by the fear of being ostracized from the left’s cultural community and clung to the community they were provided by publicly supporting Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter frequently uses shows of force – either by seeking them from university administrators or through aggressive demonstrations – to silence dissent, as well. Activists recounted to us that they found it appropriate to ask administrators to step in and stop perceived “hate speech,” although they considered themselves to be supporters of free speech.

Finally, by portraying criticism of their cause as an attempt tostifle their speech, they in effect demand freedom from criticism.

That last point is what I have documented in the anti-Israel movement, which has thoroughly infiltrated and hijacked Black Lives Matter groups. Groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and the (dishonestly named) Jewish Voice for Peace, claim that there speech is being stifled when harsh criticism is made of their positions and actions.

Anne also found that Black Lives Matters key activists previously were involved in other leftist movements:

When The Frontier Lab spoke with Operatives in the Black Lives Matter movement, they revealed that they had all been involved with other leftist movements, including Occupy Wall Street, but found that their involvement with Black Lives Matter was far more rewarding due to its success in the media and ability to create a sustainable and more widespread perception of moral authority. Operatives’ prior association with Occupy Wall Street reveals that they goals are not particular to the Black Community but to the Marxist ideals instead.

With this in mind, we need to see the Black Lives Matter movement as a leftist, anti-Capitalist movement using Black Lives as the vehicle.

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Black Lives Matter: The Privileged and the Oppressed