Adolph Reed, Jr. at nonsite:
Birch and Heideman and I apparently talk past each other regarding whether BLM should be seen as a serious political movement. Where one comes down on that question depends on how one understands what counts as a movement. I have no idea what their criteria are; I do know that, as public relations engineering has become increasingly prominent as an alternative to slow, careful organizing and constituency building, the label has been thrown around ever more promiscuously. When I refer to a political movement, as I’ve stressed for many years,16 I mean a relatively durable social and political force with a demonstrated capacity to mobilize resources and clearly defined constituencies – including actual people who have names and addresses – to advance programs and agendas with the goal of altering public policy and/or power relations. I don’t see how BLM qualifies by that standard. Activism undertaken under that name has contributed significantly to focusing public attention on patterns of police abuse and broader miscarriages of justice in the criminal justice system. However, from the perspective I indicate, extrapolations from that fact to broader claims that BLM is a substantial political movement are hyperbolic or aspirational.
Birch and Heideman may operate with a different understanding of what constitutes a political movement. I assume they do because of their insistence that BLM is one, but they don’t address that question. They seem to accept proclamation by the self-appointed spokespersons – including those who claim not to be spokespersons while obviously adopting that role – press releases, demonstrations and other staged events in the mass-mediated (including social media) pageantry of protest as adequate evidence.