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The Acton Institute despises the Movement for Black Lives, but they love it when Black people embrace Capitalism

January 30, 2022

Ever since the Black-led international uprising in response to the police murder of George Floyd, the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty has gone out of its way to denigrate the Movement for Black Lives.

GRIID has been documenting Acton’s position on BLM since June of 2020 and their overt support of White Supremacy. Here are links to several posts calling them out on their anti-Black Lives Matter stance:

The Grand Rapids-based Acton Institute has essentially declared war on the Movement for Black Lives 

Acton Institute refers to BLM as a cult

Acton claims that the 2020 uprisings hurt Black people

Acton condemns Black author Ibram X. Kendi

Acton blames Black clergy, Black politicians and the Movement for Black Lives during the Derek Chauvin trial.

In November of 2021, the Acton Institute once again attacks the Movement for Black Lives during the Kyle Rittenhouse trial 

Black Freedom and Free Market Capitalism

Now that we have made it clear that the Acton Institute despises the Movement for Black Lives, they demonstrate their own White Supremacist arrogance by invite a white professor and author to do a lecture on how Black people can flourish by embracing Free Market Capitalism.

Rachel Ferguson, who is a professor at Concordia University Chicago, and the author of the forthcoming book, Black Liberation Through the Marketplace, was invited to speak during an Acton Institute lecture series. Two weeks later, Ferguson was the guest on the Acton Institute’s radio show, Acton Line, to discuss her new book and how Black people can flourish in the market place. Ferguson’s basic argument is that the most effective way for Black people to respond to structural racism is to become get access to capital, become an entrepreneur and to create wealth.

Now, I am all in favor of Black people getting access to capital in the current Neoliberal Capitalist economy. However, having access to capital is not enough. Becoming entrepreneurs is not enough, especially since not everyone can be a business owner. Black people and Black families need to be able to earn a Living Wage, no matter what kind of work they do. More importantly, Black people deserve reparations. Black people deserve reparations for the centuries long harm that Structural Racism has done to them. 

If Black families are earning a Living Wage and if reparations are honored, then the whole issue of access to capital becomes less of an issue. You see, Rachel Ferguson and the Acton Institute only like Black people who buy into Black Conservatism. The Acton Institute is not decrying the structural racism that Black people face on a daily basis and when Black people make demands in the tradition of the Black Freedom Struggle, like the Movement for Black Lives, the Acton Institute calls them terrorists and blames them for the economic condition of poverty.

What is instructive about this dynamic of eschewing the Black Freedom Struggle and advocating for Black access to capital, is that there are groups in this community that also despise the Black Freedom Struggle and promote Black economic conservatism. Of course the Acton Institute does this, but they are a think tank and promote policy. When it comes to the issue of Black people gaining access to capital and eschewing the Black Freedom Struggle, there are two DeVos-created entities that come to mind.

Start Garden and AmplifyGR, both created by and funded by the DeVos family, push the idea of wealth creation and access to capital for Black people, while simultaneously distancing themselves from the tradition of the Black Freedom Struggle. In fact, both of these groups, like their funding source, the DeVos family, are historically antagonistic towards the tradition of the Black Freedom Struggle, as is currently being practiced by the Movement for Black Lives.

This should come as no surprise, since the DeVos family has also been a major funder of the Acton Institute, as well as having numerous family members serve on Acton’s Board of Directors.

Money can be very seductive, but it is also a tool that the DeVos family, the Acton Institute and faux intellectuals like Rachel Ferguson use to present themselves as a friend of the Black community. The reality is that those with political and economic power have always used that power to manipulate and control the Black community. In fact, this is exactly what Todd Robison names as Managerial Racism in his book, A City Within a City: The Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

Editor’s note – Rachel Ferguson spoke to a mostly white audience when speaking at the Acton Institute lecture series in December. She is scheduled to speak to a mostly white audience again, when she presents the thesis of her book at Hope College on February 7th. This makes sense, since white people love white authors who don’t challenge them with issues like white privilege and complicity in white supremacists policies.

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