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Corporate backers of BLM undeterred by group's Christmas blitz against capitalism, holiday shopping

Corporate America is silent as Black Lives Matter decries consumer spending during the holidays for feeding into America's "white-supremacist-capitalism."

Published: November 30, 2021 5:07pm

Updated: November 30, 2021 11:34pm

With corporate America poised to enjoy its yearly surge in holiday season sales — and profits — Black Lives Matter has been getting into the spirit of the season with a barrage of wrathful tweets denouncing Christmas and Cyber Monday for promoting "white-supremacist-capitalism." Yet despite BLM's recent stream of invective, corporations across the country are standing pat for now in their pledges of support — both moral and monetary — for the wrathfully anti-capitalist movement.

First, BLM's official Twitter account targeted Thanksgiving last Thursday, writing, "You are eating dry turkey and overcooked stuffing on stolen land."

"Colonization never ended," another tweet read. "It just became normalized. This nation was built on the stolen land of Indigenous people and the stolen labor and lives of our African Ancestors."

BLM added that Thanksgiving is a day to remember those whose lives were "stolen" by "state-sanctioned violence and white-supremacy."

Over the weekend, BLM redirected its ire at Christmas.

"For 7 years #BlackLivesMatter has been drawing connections between white-supremacist-capitalism & police violence with our #BlackXmas campaign," the group tweeted. The post linked to an article advocating the use of black-owned banks and businesses exclusively and toppling "existing [societal] structures."

Then on Monday, BLM attacked holiday shopping directly.

"This #CyberMonday," the tweet said, "let's not feed the white-supremacist-capitalism that works us up into a consumerist frenzy, exploits workers & relies on police violence in order to reap profits."

BLM's latest tweet comes as businesses across the country anticipate historic gains this holiday season. The National Retail Federation forecast that holiday sales during November and December will grow between 8.5% and 10.5% over 2020 levels to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion — figures that would shatter previous records.

Increased sales will mean increased profits. At least, that’s a what small-business owners are hoping. According to a recent survey, 78% of them said their holiday sales this year will likely determine whether they can stay afloat in 2022. 

Of course, increased profits will also benefit corporations, many of which, spurred by the social unrest that tore through urban America in 2020, have pledged to donate money to BLM.

Critics note BLM isn’t just targeting Christmas and holiday shopping but also the entire capitalist system, which has enriched the same corporations that are poised to receive a windfall this holiday season even as they remain publicly supportive of BLM's mission.

"Many liberal groups are attacking capitalism as part of their agenda," said Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of the Job Creators Network. "They are forgetting that capitalist democracies have pulled countless people out of poverty and provided unparalleled opportunities for people of any race, creed, or color."

"The free market is the greatest equalizer we have," Ortiz continued. "In contrast, socialist big government initiatives impoverish people and disproportionately hurt the most vulnerable. Capitalism creates and socialism takes."

The founders of BLM have openly described themselves as "trained Marxists."

Last summer, conservative news site the Daily Signal compiled a list of 18 companies that either donated, pledged to donate, or made public disclosures appearing to confirm they donated money to the BLM Global Network Foundation, the main organization at the center of the broader BLM movement. The list included a wide range of household names, such as DoorDash, FitBit, Amazon, Microsoft, Glossier, Gatorade, and Airbnb.

Just the News didn't find any examples of companies walking back their financial and rhetorical support for BLM in light of the organization's recent social media blitz against the free market system. None contacted by Just the News responded to a request for comment on BLM's attacks against Christmas and holiday consumer spending.

Several other corporations have invoked the BLM slogan and pledged support to the movement but actually donated money to other recipients.

For example, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said last year the Silicon Valley tech conglomerate would donate to BLM. However, as of August, the company had not given any money to the group.

"After further consideration and assessing where we'd have the biggest impact, Cisco committed funding to several social justice organizations including NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Equal Justice Initiative," Cisco's chief inclusion and collaboration officer, Shari Slate, told the Washington Post. She did not elaborate on the decision to withhold funds from BLM.

Cisco is hardly alone. Several other companies — from Apple, to Pepsi, to Shopify, to Peloton, to Bank of America — have pledged support for the BLM movement and social justice initiatives without donating directly to the official BLM organization. They've been silent as to why they haven't given to BLM.

One challenge in deciphering who exactly gave money to BLM and how much they gave is the organization's opaque finances, which provide little detail about its taxes and funding.

"The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, which is the primary group associated with the broader Black Lives Matter movement, has its own IRS tax-exempt status," said Robert Stilson, a research specialist at the Capital Research Center. "This wasn't always the case. It previously operated as a fiscally-sponsored project of two other nonprofits: first Thousand Currents and later the Tides Center.

"This arrangement served to obscure details about its finances and other matters, which attracted scrutiny after the foundation raised tens of millions of dollars in 2020."

For years the BLM Global Network Foundation didn't have tax-exempt status, so it "borrowed" that status from its fiscal sponsors by operating as a project of theirs. Under this arrangement, BLM and its sponsors were under no legal obligation to reveal details about specific donations to the former.

But in December 2020, the foundation was granted nonprofit tax-exempt status with the IRS. This will require it to file public 990 forms, revealing previously undisclosed financial details about the organization. However, it could take several more months until the forms become available to the public. Even then, the foundation, as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, will not be obligated to reveal its donors publicly.

For now, the BLM Global Network Foundation's 2020 Impact Report provides the most comprehensive look into the organization's finances. The report reveals the foundation raised more than $90 million last year, ending 2020 with a balance of about $60 million. The document doesn't disclose specific donors.

It's unclear why the BLM Global Network Foundation chose to move away from a fiscal sponsorship model and have its own tax-exempt status. One possible explanation is the foundation sought greater autonomy because of the windfall of donations it received following George Floyd's death in May 2020, sources say.

It remains to be seen whether BLM's online campaign against Christmas and holiday shopping will trigger heightened interest in BLM's financials. Regardless, however, corporate backers aren't running away from BLM, despite the organization's efforts to target businesses trying to make money this holiday season.

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