It’s become customary to refer to the Black Lives Matter movement, without much challenge, as one of the civil rights movements of our time. In other instances, it’s suggested that it’s the progeny of the civil rights movement itself.

But to say or imply that Black Lives Matter is the offspring of the civil rights movement of the 1960s is to misunderstand the history and character of that great moral revolution. It is to also misunderstand, or outright ignore, the intentions of Black Lives Matter while disregarding or rationalizing its tactics, agenda, and its aims. Black Lives Matter is in no way a civil rights movement and it’s certainly not an heir to the civil rights movement. The conduct consistently displayed and condoned by far too many Black Lives Matter members, in combination with the agenda expressed by its leaders, disqualifies Black Lives Matter from any consideration of being an extension of the civil rights movement.

The civil rights movement, all things considered, had a moral authority that the Black Lives Matter movement demonstrably lacks. The civil rights movement was centered in, and had the backing of a considerable portion of, the black church. Despite the lack of religious unification and support by both black and white churches, the activists in the civil rights movement were determined to appeal to the moral conscience of the nation by showing the world the egregious reality of segregation by exposing the violent actions of its defenders. This was successfully accomplished through a program of nonviolence, redemptive suffering, and civil disobedience. These direct actions applied Christian principles on one hand, and the aspirations of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution on the other. Civil rights activists deliberately refused to respond in kind to the treatment they received by those who opposed their mission. This meant that taunting and aggressively confronting the police, characteristic of Black Lives Matter militants, weren’t permitted.

Civil rights activists deliberately rejected the reflex to fight back when attacked. Active resistance would have prevented people from the opportunity to appreciate just how immoral segregation actually was. By courageously enduring the verbal taunts and physical assaults through diligent and practiced restraint, turning the other cheek, the world witnessed what it meant to be a second-class citizen in a country that prided itself on being free. This dignified composure in the face of evil increasingly attracted supporters who adopted the same character and techniques to help in the struggle for equality. Likewise, more and more attention was given to the principled movement for freedom. Eventually, members of the civil rights movement did, in fact, overcome.

The Black Lives Matter movement stands in direct contrast to the ethos of the civil rights movement. Even on its best day, the movement isn’t worthy of being considered a rightful heir to the civil rights legacy. To claim so is morally offensive. It also undermines the character, sacrifices, risks, and accomplishments of what civil rights activists were able to achieve with fewer resources, certainly fewer rights, and in a much more racist society.

Black Lives Matter activists rarely engage in nonviolent peaceful protest. When they gather, they don’t pray and sing songs of spiritual uplift and reassurance. Rather, they chant or deface property with phrases such as “F*ck the police!”, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon!”; and, “What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want them? Now!” Additionally, monologues given during protests reaffirm the idea that America remains systemically racist. Black Lives Matter extremists and proponents take to singing, dancing, and other forms of celebration when police officers are shot and or mortally wounded.

Unlike the civil rights movement, Black Lives Matter lacks a recognizable morality that justifies its demands, its mission, and corresponding behavior. It’s failed to morally persuade the consciences of those outside of its ideological and racialized bubble because it lacks both a principled message and tactics. It consistently seeks to antagonize, frustrate, and offend the very people they claim are in need of hearing their message.

Black Lives Matter encourages and rationalizes violence and chaos, and its activists are too slow in forcefully condemning it. It’s apparent that Black Live Matter is an organization of belligerents who take to rioting, pillaging, and burning down local businesses as they have done in many cities including Ferguson, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Santa Monica, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and Memphis when these activists “march” for “justice’ (yes, some violence is the result of outside opportunists, but not all). This movement lacks the humility, patience, dignity, perseverance, and self-restraint of the civil rights activists in their successful movement toward equal rights.

Black Lives Matter demands increased socio-economic entitlement; mandatory government intervention and redistribution redefined as “justice.” This is ironic considering that American society has violated its own constitutional provisions and protections to give blacks innumerable opportunities, accompanied by innumerable social and economic resources, as compensation for past injustices– none of which these beneficiaries have ever experienced. Simply put, American blacks have equal rights, thanks to those who marched and peacefully demonstrated during the civil rights revolution. However, it can be argued that blacks haven’t taken full advantage of these hard-won civil rights or made the most of the overabundance of opportunities provided. The freer the country has become, the more “oppressed” black activists and other racial justicians claim to be. These aggrieved blacktivists seek to “dismantle the system.” This includes confronting the social construct and racial boogeyman of “white privilege” or “white supremacy”– i.e. white people– to then demand from the very people they denounce more dispensations. In other words, the racial agents of black oppression, white people, are also supposed to be the agents of black salvation. Whites are both racially evil and socially redemptive at the same time? How, exactly, does that work?

Black Lives Matter isn’t a civil rights offshoot… not even close. Instead, it is the ideological and theatrical offspring of the 1960s-era black power movement.

Black Lives Matter’s aggressive and contentious tactics demonstrate as much: the raised black fists and the regurgitated revolutionary chants, the denouncement of police officers; the celebration of black racial pride and solidarity, and their increasingly violent demands for more unearned resources defined as ‘justice’.

Observe what’s emerged over the last several years since the movement was created. None of the public confrontations: the yelling, the taunting and attacking of police officers; the repeated, lie-laden racial narratives used to support their cause; the riots, looting and vandalism; none of this is reminiscent or indicative of the civil rights movement. The civil rights movement didn’t use deception nor violence as tools to advance their cause.

However, the Black Lives Matter movement is entirely reminiscent of the racial histrionics that characterized the black power movement. The social disruptions of Black Lives Matter– masked as “protests”– are overtly hostile and violent demonstrations of racial identity politics steeped in grievance and entitlement. These disruptions are wrapped in the attention-seeking melodrama that descends directly from the black power movement.

The central focus of Black Lives Matter: the dishonest narrative of out-of-control, racist police officers that are deliberately and unjustly targeting and killing innocent blacks– might appear praiseworthy on its face. No one, regardless of color, openly defends obvious cases of police brutality.

But Black Lives Matter overstates these cases to include every altercation between white law enforcement officers and black citizens, irrespective of the facts relevant to each unique case. Consequently, the only black lives that these racial radicals are truly concerned with are the black lives killed by white cops, which the movement persistently and dutifully venerates. Its concern about the statistically small percentage of blacks shot or killed by police poorly disguises the reality that at its core, Black Lives Matter is a narcissistic, narrowly-focused movement just like its 60s-era predecessor.

Black Lives Matter expresses little-to-no concern regarding the innocent black victims of black criminality, black abortion, poor black children intentionally and routinely sentenced to substandard education, or the deterioration of the black family, which is why Black Lives Matter members and supporters change the subject when these issues are rightly raised. These black lives that suffer from these pervasive issues matter less to this movement and its virtue-signaling supporters than the lives of blacks involved in police altercations. Consequently, it calls into question the sincerity and morality of their selective indignation. It’s clear that black lives matter only when whitey can be blamed. Despite its declarations of anti-police brutality, and justice, Black Lives Matter creates division and disorder and it’s using the vehicle of black rage and white capitulation to achieve this aim.

Similar to the black power movement, Black Lives Matter is eager to emotionally manipulate black people for its benefit. Evidence is seen in the hyperemotional reactions of a growing segment of blacks to certain police-related events that have been racially exploited. The racial hyperbole of what’s been said recently in the wake of Ahmaud Arbery (killed by vigilantes Gregory and Travis McMichael) and George Floyd’s death at the hands Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin is proof.

Repeatedly, when a black person is shot and or killed by a white cop, far too many blacks rush to construct their own conclusion, which reinforces the pre-existing bias of enduring systemic racism against blacks. Once that assumption is reached, there’s no need to wait for any additional evidence. It’s reminiscent of the scene in the Dark Knight Rises. The cops are convicted without trial and only the sentencing remains.

Predictably, the rush to judgment is a collective validation of systemic injustice. The protests are outlets that broadly reinforce the narrative of perpetual black victimization. Blacks, almost singularly on the Left, have thrown tantrum after public tantrum, an ongoing form of racial humiliation, attempting to convince an increasingly disinterested multiracial audience that blacks continue to be victims of white racial predators. Black Lives Matter is generating more racial resentment against the movement specifically, and black folks in general.

In my opinion, this racial anger emanating from these black activists is misdirected. It isn’t about blacks being victims of anti-black racism, regardless of what’s claimed. In truth, what we’re witnessing demonstrates the failure of a segment of blacks to fully integrate into American society while still embracing an oppositional, dysfunctional, victimized culture, an obvious consequence of racial solidarity and racial identity politics.

Thus, it’s not necessarily anger we’ve seen from blacks; many times, it’s not really about ‘justice’. It’s about black frustration with the lack of socio-economic success (apart from government intervention and white guilt), in the era of integration. Specifically, too much of black success continues to be dependent on special privileges and the soft bigotry of low expectations. Black accomplishment is persistently tainted because rules are bent, broken, and lowered to engineer black achievement at the expense of black development. So, it’s understandable that black achievement, dependent on different and lower standards, has created and nurtured a sense of racial inferiority.

At the same time, it’s why too many blacks posture themselves as if they don’t want equality in any real sense of the word. It’s why the standard of character-based excellence is patently derided and rejected by too large a portion of blacks. It’s why fragments of black society reject the idea of colorblindness or more specifically, race neutrality. Blacks instinctively know that prolonged periods of interventionism for black triumph has atrophied their ability to effectively compete with their racial counterparts. In other words, blacks are afraid of failure, which they think will reinforce perceptions of mediocrity and inability.

However, blacks being able to compete and achieve success on their own terms would confirm equality.

I think this explains the psychological need for victim passion plays that strengthens the virtue of racial victimization. In the end– consciously or subconsciously– some blacks realize that the only time they’re recognized is during racial outbursts to exploit intentionally racialized situations, facts notwithstanding. Otherwise, issues facing blacks, and blacks themselves, are largely ignored– which is a depressing reality. This proves an all too painful truth: racial identity fortified in victimization seems to be the only cultural currency blacks currently have.

And while blacks are marching for “equality” or “justice,” they don’t realize they’re not marching anywhere; they’re simply walking in place. The black/white racial binary belongs to the 20th century. Unbeknownst to many blacktivists in the racial grievance industry, the country has moved on. Only a few are still listening. The rest are resenting blacks for not having taken full advantage of the opportunities gifted to them while still complaining and demanding more.

It bears repeating: Black Lives Matter isn’t a civil rights group. Civil rights have been achieved; the maximization of these opportunities hasn’t.

All good and decent people should not only reject the Black Lives Matter movement, they should also condemn it. The last thing blacks need is to support anything that endorses or reinforces the continuation of black disempowerment, victimization, and black dependency, while simultaneously increasing racial resentment and hostility. Black power failed in the 60s and early 70s, and it certainly will fail again here.

If people want to soberly address racial disparities or “racial justice” out of some reverence to the black civil rights movement, altruism in general, or for the well-being of black lives, it must be done separately and distinctly apart from the Black Lives Matter movement. The existence of racism isn’t the issue. The issue is to what extent racism exists and where, meaning racism exists but is not systemic. In the maturing age of integration, racism is no longer a credible excuse for all that troubles black communities. Contemporary continuation of the civil rights movement will not come from demanding that more be given to blacks without making any moral demands or other expectations of blacks in exchange. It’s at that point– after blacks do what is within their power to do, that the country can clearly see where racism exists and then mitigate its effect.

Rather, it will be to encourage blacks to boldly embrace their obligation to take advantage of the rights and privileges gained during the civil rights movement. This means subordinating racial solidarity that sabotages black well-being, in favor of individual freedom and an American identity that can be augmented– if one chooses, by racial identity– but not dependent on it. Blacks are capable of so much more than people give them credit for. They’re real people, not objects for special consideration, and it is passed time we stopped treating them as such. Blacks deserve to be treated with the dignity that comes with being a person, seen as equal to their racial counterparts, and blacks have an obligation to prove they deserve it.

In other words, re-embracing the mentality of the civil rights era means rejecting victimization and embracing the idea that blacks can and do, if and when they choose, control their own destinies. Black lives will matter because blacks will take a more active and recognizable role in embracing moral redemption, restoring black families and emphasizing the dignity and importance of fatherhood; reducing black abortions, publicly disparaging and discouraging black criminality; reviving respect for authority, demanding better schools and educators for black children, supporting legislation that makes it easier to imprison criminals despite their color, to make black neighborhoods safer for those who lack the resources to move, and supporting economic freedom, access and mobility that leads to higher black income and wealth. All of this combined improves black communities and obviously, black lives. Whites aren’t primarily responsible for improving black lives, blacks are. That’s called black empowerment and that’s what it means to be treated equally.

Accepting the responsibilities that come with freedom will inarguably demonstrate to the outside world that indeed, black lives do matter. So will an honest consideration and confrontation of the totality of things that affects the quality of black lives. These tasks will provide clear and ample evidence that black lives matter first and foremost to blacks themselves.

Having continued to ignore the obvious, Black Lives Matter, their fellow black antagonists and morally-preening white enablers have failed spectacularly at convincing a justifiably skeptical public that black lives matter for this very reason.



  • Kimberley Garth-James says:

    Thoughful and thought-provoking regarding approaches to social change. Indeed, why not consider modelling our actions after ONE that protests against injustice, gave His life for all…a true humanitarian. Jesus’ hope for humankind and actions to bring about positive change is worth pondering (see the Gospels, namely John).
    Thank you Dr. Green for the essay.

  • LC says:

    Black Lives Matter, a Continuum

    I respect his courage in stating this argument that The BLM is not to be compared with the civil rights movement however it is an argument based on the differences in tactics and attitudes. Attitudes and tactics must and will evolve overtime to defeat the racism. Racism seems the same and in fact, it is the same foe of the past. It is the same enemy our ancestors faced two hundred years ago. It is the same enemy faced around the globe by generations of poor, misused, downtrodden, uneducated, slaves.

    The problem is US. The civil rights movement took a bite out of racism and it faded into the cracks to seethe and ferment until it gained some serious footholds again.

    Yes, we were trained by King, Malcolm, SNICK, the Panthers, and untold millions who participated, shared in the struggle of determination, hope, and sacrifice. This battle took place in every nook and cranny of our society, from the streets, boardrooms to the alleys of our society to defeat racism in the sixties. But we won the battle and not the war. Our leaders died, got old, were killed and we became complacent. We were at rest. We became presidents, CEOs, and managers. But we also filled the prisons, suffered from all kinds of deleterious addictions, including the addiction of poverty and illiteracy and the behaviors that lead to poor health. We bought into the education that fed us how to become workers and not leaders. We became complacent and neutered.

    This is our fault. We cannot blame it on anybody but ourselves. We did not plan for a generational battle for good versus evil. We could not or did not or equip ourselves for this generational war. It is a global battle of epic proportions. It is a war between good and evil. To win this war we must be able to plan beyond ourselves. We must incorporate the length and breadth of our society. And it must be organized on a single purpose.

    Let’s talk about violence. It must not be dismissed. Violence is a tool that is used in effecting a predetermined outcome that is part of an overall strategy. The violence that is inflected on the mind, body and property is not mutually exclusive, but each can be used exclusively. Without this, violence is mere thuggery. Violence cannot affect the innocent. It must be constructive.

    I applaud the BLM, they fill a great need in the legacy of sacrifice, determination, and hope to fight racism. However, it must become sophisticated in the use of power to effect change. It must be inclusive and generational. It must garner global resources to deploy strategically in the battle for change. Yes, I believe that the BLM has risen in the continuum in the global war against racism and civil rights, but my hope is that it goes beyond the efforts of our predecessors.

  • L says:

    This is a well-formed essay. However, it is not necessary for anyone regardless of skin color, nationality, religious belief, gender, age, etc., to prove it is deserved. We all possess the God-given right to dignity, because we were made in His image. “In Christ and through Christ humanity has acquired full awareness of its dignity and the meaning of its existence.”

  • S. Jensen says:

    I’ve been reading a book called “The Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism” by Drew Hart. I read different points of view and come away more confused. I am a white person and would really like to support black people without pandering to them. The main way I can see to do that is to support their businesses. Anyway I wish I could talk to you in person.

    • Derryck Green says:

      I’ll be curious to hear your reactions to Hart’s book. For what it’s worth, I wrote a review of “Trouble I’ve Seen” several years back. You can read it here, provided there’s interest.

      I understand your confusion. What’s happening in Christian circles is that Christians and American churches are following secular “social justice” agendas which reinforce division and resentment. Dalrymple in Christianity Today and Harper in Sojourners each call for Christian reparations for black Christians. You have people like Hart, Tisby (Color of Compromise) also calling for some form of restitution to blacks. Even Morrison (Be the Bridge) and Dates both claim that reconciliation is conditional on reparations. None of this is Christian, logical, practical or Biblical. Rather than looking to traditional Christian teaching and biblical guidance on Spirit-led reconciliatory programs, they and others seek a form of “reconciliation” through “racial justice” rather than biblical justice.

      I also understand and sincerely appreciate your attempts to support real black people rather than engaging in the performative art of pandering or racial deference.

  • Christine Thomison says:

    Your article has helped me explain to my adult children my beliefs regarding BLM. When the girls were little we lived in a predominantly black black neighborhood so they could attend the neighborhood charter school (I’m Mexican-American & their dad is of European decent). We have always supported locally black owned businesses. My kids were raised to treat everyone with respect & kindness, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, etc. I also raised them to respect & obey those in positions of authority, to work before they play, & to be self-sufficient. There were times we lived below the poverty line. Their dad suffered from a significant mental illness & I got pregnant with my oldest at age 18 with only a high school diploma. I guided my kids into adulthood by teaching them things like; to set goals & work hard, that they could achieve almost anything. They are children of divorce, but their dad and I never stopped trying to peacefully parent as a team, because we wanted to overcome the statistics (drug experimentation, teen pregnancy, dropping out of school). Now at age 25, my oldest makes more than her dad & I combined ever did and our 22 yr old is providing for herself while putting herself through college. I’m immensely proud of them, but both were shocked when I tried explaining that even though I support issues black Americans are facing, that I do not support BLM. Your article has helped me explain this to them. Even though they still support BLM, they are able to understand my position without acting like I’m going against everything I taught them. Thank you.

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