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Some of the strongest critics of the Black Lives Matter movement come from a very unlikely place. Elaine Brown, former chairwoman of the Black Panther Party was very vocal and very clear in her issues with the movement, mostly the fact that she doesn’t understand what they do.

In an interview with Spiked, she explained.

“I don’t know what Black Lives Matter does, so I can’t tell you how it compares to what the Black Panther Party was. I know what the BPP was. I know the lives we lost, the struggle we put into place, the efforts we made, the assault on us by the police and government- I know all that. I don’t know what Black Lives Matter does. So if you can tell me, I’ll give you my thoughts.”


But Brown didn’t stop there.

“There is no comparison. The next wave of young people running out here, who are complaining and protesting about the murders of young Black men and women by the police all over the country, they will protest but they will not rise up in an organized fashion, with an agenda to create revolutionary change…”

“We advocated community self defense organizations to be formed, so that we would not be assaulted by the police, so that we would bear arms and assume our human rights. This to me is a plantation mentality. It smacks of ‘master, if you would just treat me right.’ And it has nothing to do with self-determination, empowerment and a sense of justice, or anything else.”

Since her time in the BPP, Brown is now working with Oakland and the World, a non-profit that works with businesses to provide employment for ex-cons facing barriers to employment.

She said, “In the absence of a serious people’s movement, we have to do something…For now, we must do what we need to do to live, to fight another day.”

I’m not going to lie, these comments made me very sad. I can see and understand her concerns and even criticisms. She’s not the only one to suggest that BLM needs to put some actions items in place. Everyone from President Obama to Iyanla Vanzant has said the same thing. Still though, that mere fact that today’s movement is seeking the very same liberation that the BPP was seeking, I would hope, would lead Brown to show some empathy to their cause. And I wish that instead of Brown telling Spiked, a mainstream publication, about her concerns for BLM and saying they represent a plantation mentality, she sought, instead, to speak to the leaders of the movement and offer some advice.

What do you think of her comments and the way she went about delivering them?


Veronica Wells is the culture editor at She is also the author of “Bettah Days.” You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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