Several weeks ago, I traveled to Woodlawn on the South Side of Chicago, and as I drove through the icy streets past businesses and homes, I did not see a single Black Lives Matter sign. After parking my car on King Drive, I entered the New Beginnings Church where Pastor Corey Brooks greeted me. I joked that I thought Black Lives Matter would see more support in this neighborhood, and he just smiled. Then I asked if his nonprofit, a community center called Project H.O.O.D., had received any of the $90 million that Black Lives Matter had raised since the death of George Floyd — and he let out a drawn-out, “nooooo.”
His community had suffered horribly after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May. Pharmacies and grocery stores were looted and trashed, leaving residents, many of them poor, without basic necessities. The pastor organized for church members to shuttle their fellow neighbors to pharmacies and stores in other towns so they would not have to go without medicines or food.
The pastor wondered if the looted stores would ever come back. He had spent the last two decades in this neighborhood improving it every possible way so businesses would set up shop and provide countless employment opportunities to the locals. But, who would invest hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, only to lose everything in a night of violence?
It is indisputable that Black Lives Matter took America by storm after the death of George Floyd and still continues to do so. Several of my neighbors in Los Angeles who had never given much thought to race suddenly put up Black Lives Matter signs in their yards or windows. One of them wrote, “I see you,” on her sign and let it drop during our conversation that she donated $500 to Black Lives Matter. I told her there were many worthy organizations that had been toiling to uplift the lower class long before the arrival of Black Lives Matter. I mentioned Project H.O.O.D. and I also let her know that several admirable nonprofits in Ferguson, Missouri, the town that put Black Lives Matter on the map, had not received a dime from that organization. My neighbor’s face tensed up noticeably, leaving me puzzled. Maybe she had wanted unconditional praise for her generosity. Or, maybe she wanted to see only what would directly benefit her.