Ask PolitiFact: Does Black Lives Matter aim to destroy the nuclear family? - PolitiFact

Ask PolitiFact: Does Black Lives Matter aim to destroy the nuclear family? - PolitiFact

Ask PolitiFact: Does Black Lives Matter aim to destroy the nuclear family? - PolitiFact

Posted: 28 Aug 2020 12:59 PM PDT

Black Lives Matter has been derided as a terrorist organization (a claim we rated False), a Marxist movement (we found little evidence) and as anti-Semitic (despite some concerns, hundreds of Jewish organizations support it, we found).

An attack made less often is that Black Lives Matter wants to abolish the traditional family. 

For example, at the Republican National Convention, former NFL player Jack Brewer said the organization "openly on their website calls for the destruction of the nuclear family. My fellow Americans, our families need each other. We need black fathers in the homes with their wives and children."

We found that while Black Lives Matter seeks change in how "family" is defined, especially with respect to public policy, it's a leap to conclude that it wants to eliminate traditional family structures.

What Black Lives Matter says 

First, Brewer's statement doesn't fully represent what the Black Lives Matter website says about families. 

"We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and 'villages' that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable," it says on the page titled "What we believe."

The movement, which was formed in response to the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood-watch volunteer who fatally shot teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, also says:

"We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work 'double shifts' so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work."

A spokesperson for Black Lives Matter did not respond to our requests for comment.

What the critics say

Some critics see the platform as evidence that Black Lives Matter wants to get rid of the mother-father-and-children model.

Black Lives Matter has a "radical Marxist agenda" that "would supplant the basic building block of society — the family — with the state and destroy the economic system that has lifted more people from poverty than any other," two members of the conservative Heritage Foundation claimed in a New York Post opinion column.

In a recently surfaced 2015 interview, one of the three Black Lives Matter co-founders declared that she and another co-founder "are trained Marxists." The website's statement about the family structure is among those that have drawn criticism as being consistent with Marxism.

According to one criticism aired by a commentator in The Federalist, a conservative online magazine, the logic of what Black Lives Matter has proffered suggests that children do better without parents and outside the home, and that the "'village' will raise them":  "More than any other belief of BLM, this one against the nuclear family threatens the most harm to Americans of all races. Dismantling it leaves children extremely vulnerable to social ills."

What other observers say

Other observers don't see Black Lives Matter as seeking to go that far.

"I don't think there's any reasonable basis to claim" that the group's website "is promoting an actual reduction in the proportion of people actually living in a Western nuclear family structure — but rather, to imagine 'successful' families as more inclusive than this particular vision of family," said Davin L. Phoenix, a University of California, Irvine, political scientist who studies Black politics. 

Phoenix said that the statement calling for "disruption" is most accurately interpreted as disrupting agendas that give benefits to people with middle-class family structures over those without. For example, zoning laws that prioritize single-family housing or tax credits for married homeowners leave out people who are single or rent their home.

"It is a call to disrupt the notion that the nuclear family structure is the only way to ensure neighborhood stability and vitality, and to affirm that neighborhoods that contain a high volume of non-traditional family structures (e.g. households with a single parent or grandparents / other familial figures as primary caregivers for kids) are just as capable of — and just as deserving of — policies and practices that contribute to neighborhood stability and vitality," he said.

Black Lives Matter has essentially said the nuclear family is untenable and that extended families provide the necessary support to take care of one another, said Nadia Brown, a political science and African American studies professor at Purdue University and co-editor of the book "The Politics of Protest: Readings on the Black Lives Matter Movement."

"For example, if both parents work outside the home and a child gets sick, who will care for the child while also earning an income? Having a grandparent or another adult in the home who assists with care responsibilities lessens the burdens on the parents to both work and care for the children."

Black Lives Matter "is focused on improving life outcomes and opportunities for Black-identifying people in the United States, regardless of sexual orientation," said Georgetown University government professor Jamil Scott, whose specialties include race and ethnicity in politics. 

"Across online materials that I've encountered, associated with Black Lives Matters and its chapters, I've never seen any statements that indicate Black Lives Matter is calling for the destruction of the nuclear family."

UofL student creates nonprofit organization to help Black students advance career goals -

Posted: 28 Aug 2020 08:04 AM PDT

Ethan Volk
Ethan Volk

A UofL student has created a nonprofit organization to help Black students advance their career aspirations. Ethan Volk, a sophomore from Bowling Green double majoring in Business Economics and Philosophy, co-founded the Eckford Virtual Mentorship Program to keep the door open for Black students to the job market. 

Volk said he and his co-founders were moved to action as they discussed how to contribute to the advancement of minorities after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

"We identified gaps in Black achievement and Black professional success and saw that Black students often lacked personal and family connections in industry to help give job referrals and expose them to the type of professional opportunities that lead to the best careers. We wanted to cut the degrees of separation between the Black community," Volk said. 

The Eckford Program is trying to connect Black students to competitive jobs and internships through mentoring. By doing so, the organization hopes to give Black professionals the ability to directly diversify their industry and give students the industry connections they need to become more competitive for opportunities, Volk said. 

The program is named for Elizabeth Eckford. In 1957, she opened the door for a new generation of black students as part of the Little Rock 9, a group of black students who enrolled at a previously all-white high school in Arkansas. Volk is working with some former classmates on the project including Andre Battle at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Elvin Irisamye at IU-Bloomington, and Anas Gondal at Duke University. 

Already, the program has generated a digital presence with a website, Instagram page and LinkedIn account.

"Currently our focus is on increasing awareness about our organization, and our members have been reaching out to potential mentors and campus organizations around the country who would be able to assist us making students aware of our organization and the opportunities we seek to provide," Volk said. 

And Volk said they have met with some initial success.

"We've had the amazing opportunity to connect with more than a few universities and engage their Black communities, most notably here at UofL and at Indiana University. In addition, we've garnered industry support in a wide range of places and aim to gain a few more partners in equity here in Louisville," he said. 

Volk said the program focused on virtual communication because of the coronavirus pandemic. In so doing, it provides an added benefit, he said, by allowing students to connect with professionals they may have not had access to previously because of location. 

"The Black student community hasn't had the same luxury in having easy access connections in the professional world. We aim to cut degrees of separation so that a first-gen Louisville Black business student can gain a world-class Black professional mentor working in New York or Chicago. This has all become possible because of technology, and specifically developments in telecommunication from this period of coronavirus lockdown," Volk said. 

Volk came to UofL initially planning pre-med studies and a career helping others. While he has changed his major, his longer-term plan to benefit the community remains.

"I hope to utilize my education to help uplift others in any way possible, and I think that the Eckford Program will help give me hands on experience in learning to use the strength of community to empower people to fundamentally change inequities in existing structures," he said. 

More information about the Eckford Virtual Mentorship Program is available via its website, Instagram page or LinkedIn profile.

Story written by Stuart Esrock, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Communication, and faculty-in-residence at the University Career Center. 


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