What's wrong with Shaun King?
June 3, 2020 5:26 AM   Subscribe

In the latest episode of the podcast "Yo, Is This Racist?", Tawny Newsome says that Shaun King is a "scammer", who women of color have been sounding the alarm about for years. I'm willing to believe this, but I'd like to see some specific, verifiable charges against King. What memo did I miss?

Shaun King's Facebook feed has been a significant source of information for me over the last week, so I'd like to know if I'm being a chump.

I do find his clickbaity, "🚨BREAKING:🚨" style to be a bit hyperbolic – but even otherwise respectable content creators seem to do that these days, because algorithms.

Are there more serious reasons to be skeptical of him?

Again: links to specific information, please – not just "I heard he did X". Thanks.
posted by escape from the potato planet to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
ok so the gist of the scammer claims is that he has been VERY shady about the use of funds for his various high profile fundraising efforts. This is detailed pretty well in the linked Daily Beast article but I also have some first hand experience with it - during his Justice Together phase I and some other folks gave him money and well, hes just not being honest that it was all returned (the db article covers this here:

King also did not respond to my question about the report’s omission of a $17,500 grant to Justice Together, the anti-police-brutality organization he disbanded in 2015. King cited the grant in this Facebook post from 2015 and in emails he sent to Justice Together board members the same year. The money is further confirmed by a 2015 IRS filing from the Proteus Fund, the grant-giving organization.

(King noted in a Medium post that he never filed taxes for Justice Together “because every dollar that was given online was returned.” The IRS revoked its tax-exempt status in 2018, three years after the organization had been dissolved by King.)

King’s auditors wrote that when he abruptly and unilaterally shuttered Justice Together in 2015, he “refunded 100% of the donations made.” But a representative from the Proteus Fund, which provided the $17,500 grant, told me that King never returned that money. Nor did he submit the mandated report explaining how the funds were used to support justice work. King did not respond to a question about that disparity.

Also omitted from the report is a $10,000 donation made to Justice Together by David Heinemeier Hansson, a former member of the organization’s board, which he told me “had no resemblance to any legitimate board in terms of responsibilities and insight.” Hansson resigned from the organization in November 2015.

His real trick is that hes on the right side of the issues he jumps on, and so theres a general reluctance to tear him down and be seen as stopping a generally good if-problematic thing. he is very adept at targeting white audiences and moving on to the next thing without explanation or account.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 5:44 AM on June 3, 2020 [10 favorites]

Keisha Blain is a professor and historian who was editor in chief of King's venture The North Star. She calls him a "liar and a fraud."
posted by bluedaisy at 9:49 AM on June 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

Shaun King is a white liberal's wet dream

I have to say, asking a place as white as MetaFilter to validate this smacks of exactly what the article talks about.
posted by sunset in snow country at 11:21 AM on June 3, 2020 [6 favorites]

As a white person who used to follow Shaun King but stopped once I began learning of the allegations against him, the above articles pretty much capture it.

In addition to that, though, one thing that started to put me off before I even heard these criticisms is how many posts Shaun makes defending himself against his critics. It's a little weird. Like... most real organizers don't spend that much airspace arguing with critics. They ignore them.
posted by mekily at 1:02 PM on June 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

As white-looking immigrant who used to follow him and stopped years ago, well before I was aware of any of the above, he was always way too quick to post inflammatory info. And when then turned out to be false, he wouldn’t back down, AND he’d respond with quite a bit of aggression. It wasn’t helpful. At all. It wasn’t about any cause, it was about him being right no matter what and blowing off [a NeverEnding amount of] steam.
No, thanks.
posted by Neekee at 6:37 PM on June 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

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