Every gold rush needs someone to sell hammers and pans, and the Black Lives Matter (henceforth, $BLM) money grab is no different.
A quick glance at “Google Shop” shows that you can buy an official 3’ by 5’ $BLM flag for $55 at the organization’s website—the perfect gift for the dad you hate because Robin DiAngelo says you’re fragile, or the grad who recently matriculated into keeping down the Global South by joining corporate America.
Or how about a yard sign that says “We Believe Black Lives Matter” (of course, only outside the womb) or “No Human Being is Illegal” (except if he has a badge) or “Science is Real” (until you get to chromosomes). Any of these is available for just $39.95!
For those angry that $BLM posers are raking in the cash, consider the fact that at every stage, the movement itself has been used as a means for building wealth on a foundation of moral extortion.
Movement figure DeRay McKesson came forward in 2019 and admitted that there was a “culture of silence” within the movement and that he didn’t believe fellow activist Shaun King’s excuses that he had given money back and therefore did not file tax returns for the campaigns that he ran.
Last week, I exposed the redirection of funds donated from the Ford Foundation to the cleverly named “Black-Led Movement Fund” towards transsexual and non-black related causes by Borealis Philanthropy. This week, the Daily Caller dug into a similar arrangement involving the California charity Thousand Currents and the $Black Lives Matter Global Network. The D.C.’s Andrew Kerr did a deep dive into the paper trail of $BLMGN, perhaps prompted by the trainwreck of a Reddit ask-me-anything session with the fund’s managing director Kailee Scales, where she dodged all questions regarding where the money is going.
Kerr discovered that $BLMGN has spent almost $900,000 on travel, $1.6 million on consulting, and $2.1 million on personnel, accounting for 83.3 percent of its spending from the 2017-19 period, while only 6 percent went to $BLM chapters. Best of all was an eye-popping written email response from Scales:
The numbers you cite from the annual information return form [sic] our fiscal sponsor reflect IRS-required reporting categories that bear no relationship to how our programs have actually been run. These are not numbers developed by BLM Global Network Foundation and we cannot speak to how they were calculated.
So, paraphrasing to understand Scales’ response: The money is being spent for the right purposes, but the numbers in our tax disclosures and financial audits don’t reflect it. Kerr’s article concluded by highlighting objections that caused $BLM’s Cincinnati chapter to separate from the national organization.
The obvious question: If $BLM is collecting all of this money but not spending it on activities, what’s the ultimate purpose besides self-enrichment?
Kerr answers this partially by showing that $BLMGN had agreed as part of its partnership with Thousand Currents to pay for its services by giving some of its funds to other causes managed by their firm in Zimbabwe and South Africa. But examining the audits shows a larger purpose: Building the institution through the donations and reinvesting the money. In the nonprofit world, a major unspoken goal is not to fulfill the stated mission of the movement, but to turn the movement into its own self-sustaining institution, and that is exactly what $BLMGN, like all other $BLM groups, is doing.
Splitting the Pot
According to the Thousand Currents website, the relationship between $BLMGN and the firm began four years ago, in September 2016, including an announcement “quietly establishing a legal partnership” that included a photo of Thousand Currents (then International Development Exchange) Executive Director Rajasvini Bhansali.
In fiscal year 2016, Thousand Currents spent $795,000 on grants to foreign organizations compared to $164,000 spent on their domestic counterparts. The group spent more on employee compensation ($1.4 million), office expenses $192,000, and travel $484,223 than they did on domestic grants.
According to the same disclosure, Bhansali received a loan that year (no date given) for $8,300 without either board approval or a written agreement which she seems to have repaid in full. In November 2018, she left Thousand Currents for the Solidaire Network, another opaque charity project of the Proteus Fund, which runs the “Black Liberation Pooled Fund.” This fund lists 31 groups as grantees as of 2020, but, but the last disclosure for Proteus only covers 2018, and does not mention any of these groups.
Thousand Currents in 2017 disbursed only $28,130 to the $Black Lives Matter Foundation whose address is listed as a UPS Store mailbox in Santa Clarita, California. The address listed for $BLM Foundation president Robert Ray Barnes on the 2017 disclosure was last sold for $517,000, and his salary was listed at only $24,000. The $BLM Foundation was able to rake in $189,000 of revenue (less expenses) in 2017, the only year for which its filing is publicly available. According to CBS Los Angeles, the $BLM Foundation is unaffiliated with $BLMGN, but yet both of them appear to have an affiliation with Thousand Currents. In 2017 Barnes’ $BLM Foundation received an additional $62,000 from Thousand Currents. Recently with the flurry of attention to the $BLM cause, the $BLM Foundation and $BLM Global Network appear to be fighting over donation money.
In 2018, Kailee Scales joined with Thousand Currents’ board at a salary of $140,000 as Bhansali was on her way out. This was during a year when Thousand Currents’ grants totaled $1.1 million. Also on the board, but in an unpaid capacity, is Susan Rosenberg a former domestic terrorist who served 16 years in prison for weapons and explosives charges after being caught red-handed offloading dynamite in New Jersey in 1984. Rosenberg had been a member of the Weather Underground Organization, Black Liberation Army, and May 19th Organization; all groups that performed terror bombings, bank robberies, and shootings in the 1970s and 1980s. Nevertheless, Rosenberg’s autobiography was titled An American Radical: A Political Prisoner in My Own Country, as if she was behind bars for the mere distribution of leaflets or standing on a soapbox.
In Scales’ first year as managing director (2018), $BLMGN had around $1.9 million released to it, out of $2.62 million in net assets with donor restrictions held by Thousand Currents. In 2019, an audit stated that $BLM had $3.35 million in net assets, with $1.8 million released to it.
What is happening with the leftover money? It could be that Thousand Currents and $BLMGN are keeping it for a rainy day or investing it in various bonds and REITs as also shown in the audit. The audit, however, suggests that the group might actually be running out the clock on time conditions for the donations.
For 2018, almost $1.2 million was listed under the label “passage of time” and $75,000 in 2019. When the money is donated, a benefactor may stipulate a time period within which that sum must be used for the purpose stated at the beginning. But according to Minnesota CPA Jack Abdo “[o]nce time or purpose restrictions are met, contributions can be reclassified to unrestricted assets.” Simply put, at a certain point $BLM donations become part of the general fund and can conceivably be used for anything. Now that might be a reason to raise some fists.
The trough is set to overflow next year as $BLM Global Network Foundation has announced this month the establishment of a $12 million fund to “aid organizations fighting institutional racism, in the wake of the George Floyd protests.” That type of cash would be a game changer for the movement, and the potential for an incoming Democratic administration that could distribute grants through such groups could prove to be a new windfall.
While some media and lay critics of $BLM are getting wise to the scam, unfortunately the noise around the movement continues to be mostly positive thanks to a conflicted and sycophantic media sustained by the same well of academic idiocy from which $BLM activists graduate.
Until it becomes too obvious to ignore, the average American or foreign observer will be oblivious to the venal greed of $BlackLivesMatter, a movement that nurses on the guilt of the gullible who believe that feeding the fire will burn it out.