Born in 1981, Alicia Garza is a self-described “queer” social-justice activist who reveres the Marxist revolutionary, former Black Panther, and convicted cop-killer Assata Shakur for her contributions to the “Black Liberation Movement.” Garza is likewise a great admirer of Angela Davis (another Marxist and former Black Panther) and Audre Lorde (a black socialist lesbian feminist). “These women really attempt and attempted to tackle some of the biggest questions facing our society,” says Garza. “Learning about them and in some cases getting a chance to meet them really underscores that everyday people, when working together with a shared vision, can accomplish extraordinary things.”
In 2013, Garza collaborated with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi to co-found Black Lives Matter (BLM), an online platform designed to stoke black rage and galvanize a protest movement in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a white man who was tried for murder and manslaughter after he had shot and killed a black Florida teenager named Trayvon Martin in a highly publicized February 2012 altercation. Condemning “the anti-Black racism that permeates our society,” Garza describes BLM as “an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise”; where African Americans are bombarded ceaselessly by “deadly oppression” and all manner of “injustice”; and where “extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes” are disturbingly commonplace.
In an essay titled “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement,” Garza states that BLM is, at its essence, “a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement” for those who, as a result of ubiquitous “white supremacy” and “state violence,” have been “deprived of [their] basic human rights and dignity.” This deprivation, she says, manifests itself in a variety of forms—most notably, rampant poverty, “genocide,” and mass incarceration. The fact that “1 million Black people are locked in cages in this country,” Garza asserts, separates many black fathers from their sons and daughters while forcing black women “to bear the burden of a relentless assault on our children and our families.”
Averring, in that same essay, that blacks “are uniquely, systematically, and savagely targeted by the state,” Garza objects to members of other demographic groups who seek, via slogans like “All Lives Matter,” to analogize their own struggles to those of African Americans. “[S]tand with us in affirming Black lives,” she declares. “Not just all lives. Black lives. Please do not change the conversation by talking about how your life matters, too. It does, but we need less watered down unity and a more active solidarities [sic] with us, Black people, unwaveringly, in defense of our humanity.” The “tired trope that we are all the same,” Garza elaborates, serves only to “perpetuate a level of White supremacist domination.” And while conceding that “non-Black oppressed people in this country” may be “impacted by racism and domination” to some degree, she is quick to add that they also invariably “BENEFIT from anti-black racism.” (Emphasis in original)
Though BLM is intended to represent the needs and grievances of all black people, Garza’s essay makes it clear that the organization is especially committed to helping “Black queer and trans folks” because they “bea[r] a unique burden in a hetero-patriarchal society that disposes of us like garbage and simultaneously fetishizes us and profits off of us.” Also getting a special mention from Garza are the “500,000 Black people in the U.S. [who] are undocumented immigrants and relegated to the shadows.”
In May 2015, Garza characterized the recent protests and riots in Baltimore—which erupted after a local black criminal named Freddie Gray had died under disputed circumstances while in police custody—as “Black Spring” demonstrations akin to the massive “Arab Spring” actions that had threatened and/or toppled a number of Middle Eastern regimes beginning in early 2011. “What we know,” said Garza, “is that there is a Black Spring that is emerging where communities that have been under the boot of police terrorism, communities that have been attacked by poverty and unemployment, are rising up, coming together and advancing new solutions and new visions and new demands to create a new world where Black peoples’ lives matter…. [W]e’ve had enough.”
In May 2015 as well, Garza spoke at the annual Left Forum convention in New York City, where she said: “It’s not possible for a world to emerge where black lives matter if it’s under capitalism, and it’s not possible to abolish capitalism without a struggle against national oppression.” Six months later, she told the San Francisco Weekly: “Black lives can’t matter under capitalism. They’re like oil and water.” In that same SFW interview, Garza stated that “social movements all over the world have used Marx and Lenin as a foundation to interrupt these systems that are really negatively impacting the majority of people.” She also criticized Senator Bernie Sanders for being insufficiently committed to the principles of socialism: “It sounds like he’s been talking a lot about being a social democrat, which is still left of where the Democratic Party is, but it’s not socialism. It’s democratic capitalism… There should be more voices saying, ‘This is not actually socialism, and socialism is actually possible.’”
Portraying America as a country awash in sexism as well as racism, Garza in 2015 lamented that black female employees earn “at least” 14% less, on average, than white women, who in turn are paid 25% less than their male counterparts.
In March 2016, Fortune magazine named Garza and her two BLM co-founders to its list of the “50 of the most influential world leaders.”
In a September 2016 interview with Complex.com, Garza stated that Americans would be better off if the nation’s “corroded and corrupt system” of policing were to be terminated. “Quite frankly, many of our [BLM] members are continuing to investigate what it would mean to have police-free communities. I think what we’ve continued to see over time is that no moral appeal [to police] is actually stopping the deaths of black people [at the hands of police], whether they be armed or unarmed.” Moreover, Garza asserted that crime and violence were nothing more than logical responses to societal injustice and economic inequality: “How do we stop violence, looting, and riots? The way that we stop that is by making sure that people have the things that they need to thrive. When people are systematically denied their right to adequate housing, adequate schools, to adequate food, to dignity—this is a response and a reaction that we should absolutely expect.”
In addition to her work with BLM, Garza is also listed as an “expert” who is instrumental in “guiding the work” of the George Soros-funded Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET). She was invited to speak at INET’s 2016 national conference in Detroit, which promised to “examine how racial fears and centuries of racism continue to perpetuate damaging structural inequities in wealth, environment, employment, health, educational access, and treatment by the criminal justice system.” In the course of her remarks at that event, Garza said: “We need to build a different kind of movement that continues to push to take back the things that we’ve won but also continues to pull in new people into the fight who should’ve been there in the first place. The way that we do that, in my opinion, is not just by opposing what is wrong, what is fascist, what is xenophobic, what is racist, what is capitalist, imperialist about our president-elect [Donald Trump]. It’s not just about opposing those things. It’s not just about him, but it’s also very much about organizing and building power.” Claiming that America had first come “together on the backs of black people and the genocide of indigenous nations,” Garza added: “That has not changed. It just keeps repeating itself in different forms.”
In April 2019, Garza collaborated with former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and National Domestic Workers Alliance director Ai-jen Poo to establish an organization called Supermajority, whose founding objective was to teach 2 million women how to be political activists.
On June 27, 2019, Garza told an audience of progressives in Maine that “America itself was founded on violence, steeped in white supremacy and predicated on theft and genocide.” “Change,” she added, “requires changing ourselves so that we can change what’s happening around us. When we talk about fighting white nationalism, fighting white supremacy, we’re not talking about fighting white people. We’re talking about changing how we’ve organized this country, so that we actually can achieve the justice that we are fighting for. I believe we all have work to do to keep dismantling the organizing principle of this society, which creates inequities for everyone, even white people.”
Aside from her work with BLM and INET, Garza also: (a) has served since October 2013 as the special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), which agitates for better pay and working conditions on behalf of nannies, housecleaners, and home-based caregivers; (b) serves on the board of directors for the Oakland, California-based School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL), whose mission is to create “a new generation of organizers rooted in a systemic change analysis—especially people of color, young women, queer and transgender youth and low-income people”; (c) works with Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD), a group that teaches black activists how to help build a “social justice infrastructure”; and (d) writes for War Times magazine, which promotes “antiwar, antimilitarist” efforts to radically transform American society by stoking antagonisms based on “race, class and gender.”
In years past, Garza was: (a) board chair of the Right To The City Alliance (RTTC), a nationwide network that opposes inner-city “gentrification” that displaces “low-income people, people of color, marginalized LGBTQ communities, and youths of color from their historic urban neighborhoods”; and (b) executive director (from 2009-14) of the San Francisco-based People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), a group aiming to “secur[e] living wage employment, job security, affordable housing, and community services” for low-income black and Latino families. Garza boasts that under her leadership, POWER successfully “beat back regressive local policies targeting undocumented people,” “organized against the chronic police violence in Black neighborhoods,” and “shed light on the ongoing wave of profit-driven development” that was allegedly harming poor minorities in San Francisco.
In his January 2016 article, “Reds Exploiting Blacks: The Roots of Black Lives Matter,” author James Simpson notes that four of the groups with which Garza has been affiliated—NDWA, SOUL, RTTC, and POWER—are front groups for the Marxist-Leninist Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
Since July 2017, Garza has been the principal at the Black Futures Lab (BFL), which “transforms Black communities into constituencies that build independent, progressive political power in cities and states.” She is also the principal at the Black to the Future Action Fund, which “works to transform Black communities into constituencies that build Black political power in cities and states,” and “to enact policy that improves the lives of Black people, and to elect Black legislators with progressive values who move progressive policies.”
In 2020, The Daily Signal’s Mike Gonzalez discovered that donations to BFL did not go directly to the foundation itself but rather to its fiscal sponsor, a San Francisco-based entity called the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), which is closely tied to the Chinese Communist Party. Wrote Gonzalez:
“According to an authoritative 2009 Stanford University paper tracing its early days to the present, and which can be found on Marxist.org, ‘The CPA began as a Leftist, pro-People’s Republic of China [PRC] organization, promoting awareness of mainland China’s revolutionary thought and workers’ rights, and dedicated to self-determination, community control, and serving the people.’ To this day, the CPA continues to be a partner of the PRC in the United States…. It is clear … that CPA works with China’s communist government, pushes its agenda here in the United States, and is regularly praised by China’s state-owned mouthpieces. It is clear, too, from, this perspective, why the CPA would sponsor a new enterprise by Garza: They espouse the same desire for world communism.”
In April 2020, Garza launched a podcast titled Lady Don’t Take No.
In August 2020, Garza signed with Los Angeles-based talent agency ICM Partners, for representation.
On August 20, 2020, Deadline.com reported: “[Garza’s] first book, Purpose Of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart, will drop on Oct. 20. She is also set to appear alongside Oprah Winfrey for HBO’s adaptation of Between The World And Me, the New York Times bestseller by Ta-Nehisi Coates.”