Alicia Garza, Black Futures Lab, Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter Too, BLM, China, Chinese Progressive Association, election interference, Heritage Foundation, Im-Politic, race relations, racism, reparations, structural racism, systemic racism, The Federalist, wealth gap, white fragility
Our times are so racially fraught that even I (someone who rarely feels defensive about my views) feel the need to start out this post by specifying that I am not a systemic or structural racist or even an unwitting example of white fragility. Indeed, I’m so woke on the issue of continuing racial discrimination in America that I’ve come out for reparations to remedy what I see as one recent example of open-and-shut racial injustice whose victims would be relatively easy to identify and compensate. And I’ve called attention to the still yawning racial wealth gap.
I don’t even have significant problems with the phrase “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) – although I like “Black Lives Matter, Too” because it avoids the possibility of either-or interpretations while making clear that there’s a still a racial gap that must be eliminated.
But the various organizations and coalitions invoking this phrase that have sprung up lately? I’m not so sure about many of them, especially since their proclaimed agendas often go far beyond securing racial justice. (See, e.g., here.) And just yesterday I found out about another potential problem with these groups that seems to support a point I made in a recent article about the massive and under-reported scale of Chinese interference in American public life – signs of close connections between a key BLM organization the Chinese government.
As reported in The Federalist, a conservative publication, based on research by the equally conservative Heritage Foundation, an outfit called Black Futures Lab (BFL) is funded mainly by an organization called the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA). The Lab’s own website, moreover, confirms this finding.
It’s true that BFL is only one group in the BLM constellation. But it’s no ordinary group. Its “Principal” is Alicia Garza, who describes herself, and is credited in news reports, as a founder of the BLM movement.
It’s also true that the CPA isn’t officially affiliated with the Chinese government. But Beijing is certainly a fan of what’s been described as its Boston chapter, as this article (cited in the Heritage Foundation report) from its official mouthpiece demonstrates. One charge I could not independently corroborate – the claim that the Chinese flag-raising event the article mentions was “hosted by the Consulate General of China in New York.”
Consulate officials clearly attended the other event – a flag-raiser – and spoke. But unike the aforementioned Boston passport-focused event, I was unable to find evidence that they played any organizing role.
So maybe the cooperation doesn’t go any further than attending (and sometimes organizing) the kinds of celebrations that might simply be ethnic solidarity events. But according to this study (an undergraduate thesis, but one from Stanford University by a student with clearly progressive sympathies), the admiration between CPA and the Chinese government is decidedly mutual:
“The CPA began as a Leftist, pro-People’s Republic of China [PRC] organization, promoting awareness of mainland China’s revolutionary thought and workers rights, and dedicated to self-determination, community control, and ‘serving the people’.
Further, although “Its activities were independent of the Communist Party of China or the US,” it “worked with other pro-PRC groups within the US and San Francisco Bay Area.”
Again, the prospect can’t be ruled out that Beijing is content simply to admire CPA’s efforts to improve social services for Chinese Americans or even help organize Chinese American events with the group. But given the influence I thoroughly documented in the aforementioned magazine article that China has gained over major American institutions; and given the unusual interest displayed by a group like CPA, which is exclusively focused on Chinese Americans (as it makes clear) in an organization that says it’s exclusively focused on African Americans (especially since serious problem of poverty and discrimination still clearly dog Chinese Americans, according to CPA), grounds for further investigation don’t exactly seem to be lacking.
Indeed, as known by anyone with legal or law enforcement experience, or most fans of detective stories, showing that defendants have had “motive, opportunity and means” is a venerable framework for investigating and determining wrongdoing. When it comes to fomenting racial tensions in the United States, the Chinese government surely has all three. So let’s hope that the federal government (both the Exective and Congress), as well as the supposed watchdogs of our democracy, the news media, look into China’s involvement with the Black Lives Matter movement as aggressively as it’s looked into other charges of improper foreign interference in America’s politics.