Black Lives Matter: A Superficial Movement?



Black Lives Matter protest at Sheffield – Courtesy of Tim Dennell

Anagha Dogiparthi, Op-Ed Editor

Ever since the George Floyd incident of 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement has reached an entirely new level of meaning for protestors and advocates. During the last two years, people have been actively raising money and awareness for victims of racial violence, and the campaign has been relatively successful. Organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,  which has pursued impactful projects such as ending mass incarceration, eliminating racial bias, and forming a diverse federal jury, have even been influential enough to reach over 1 million donors. 

Unfortunately, equity and ethics are not always guaranteed in the world of advocacy, especially when it comes to previous accusations. For example, Lola Jean Amorin, a senior accountant at The Arc in Hawaii, spent 25 years in jail after embezzling nearly $7 million from the organization. The organization existed in support of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, making Amorin´s crime all the more impactful. 

Similarly, during the week of September 5th, an executive of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation was accused of stealing $10 million from the organization. The perpetrator in question, Shalomayah Bowers, was charged with collaborating with the foundation itself,  his consulting firm, and anonymous individuals to complete the felonious act. To the surprise of many, Bowers did not admit guilt and clearly professed his innocence to the public.

Although all the details are provided, it is still unclear what exactly prompted the case against Bowers. In order to clarify the question, it might be helpful to go through the history of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation and its grassroots organization. 

The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, or GNF, was originally created by Patrisse Cullors in 2020. It was initially established as “an administrative organization to raise funds to provide financial support for local-level community efforts of BLM Grassroots.” BLM Grassroots, a sub-organization that will become much more relevant later on, was responsible for the hands-on work that GNF as a whole did not have enough outreach to do. 

Cullors ran the organization until May 2021 but eventually came to the decision to shut down GNF’s main projects and transfer them over to the responsibility of BLM Grassroots in order to help spread awareness more effectively. As the company transferred its power, there came the need to inform the organization’s internal leaders, which at the time included Bowers and Melina Abdullah (co-founder of the Los Angeles Chapter of Grassroots).

Bowers and the leadership council agreed to complete the transition, but this is where the truth began to blur drastically: Abdullah and the Grassroots foundation believed that the formerly respected firm representative siphoned large sums of money during this transition, but Bowers himself emphasized that none of this was accurate. The suit itself stated that “he [Mr. Bowers], who made $2,167,894 million dollars from GNF in less than eight months, decided he wanted to keep the ‘piggy bank’ that GNF had become to him and his company.” It continues by accusing him of not disclosing important financial information. As if this were not enough, the statements addressed within the allegations referenced even more heinous crimes committed by Bowers,  including “running well-respected advocates out of the organization,” “changing social media account passwords,” and essentially rendering its logo useless. According to Abdullah, who had been responsible for the lawsuit, Bowers essentially siphoned all of the money that was supposed to be allocated toward the grassroots foundation for himself. 

The response of the GNF board as a whole, which still supported Bowers and his decisions, essentially deemed the words of their sub-organization as similar to the actions of previous white oppressors. In each member’s mind, what Abdullah and her followers aimed to do was to separate the Black community in a fight for more power and respect.  

Overall, the conflict created between the grassroots organizations and GNF itself caused extreme havoc in the Black community. Was the problem legitimate or a power struggle between minority groups?

Although the lawsuit was publicized over a month ago, the details are still being settled in court. As more information is released and the public becomes more aware of the true situation, stay updated through the Black Lives Matter GNF website and all of their social media platforms.