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Candace Owens is attempting to rebrand herself, and Black people shouldn’t fall for it

In World
April 01, 2024

OPINION: After losing her standing as the Black voice of anti-Blackness for conservative media, Candace Owens is now trying to win over Black people.

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

I don’t like Candace Owens.

I feel like it’s important for me to say that before I type out the rest of this column because I want to be honest and upfront about my skepticism where she is concerned.

I have always viewed Candace Owens as someone who is very dangerous for Black people. Much like Jason Whitlock, she is willingly putting a Black face in front of all the anti-Black rhetoric (some) white people wish they could spew without catching flack for it.

Candace Owens is anti-Black, and what makes it so egregious is she wasn’t always like this. She, like Whitlock, seemingly realized there was money to be made in being the Black spokesperson for white people’s anti-Blackness, so she jumped on the train and started parroting the white supremacist rhetoric of those signing her checks.

She gained a lot of popularity behind it. There is nothing (some) white people love more than a Black person they can point to and tell the rest of us, “She agrees with us!”

There was a time when Candace Owens was actually very critical of Republicans, conservatives and especially Donald Trump. Up until 2016, she ran a website called Degree180, which bashed Trump during his 2016 run for president and even had an article questioning and mocking his penis size.

While she has up until recently been making her living denying the existence of institutionalized, systemic and individual racism in America, Degree180 wrote about these topics quite frequently, calling out people like Ted Cruz for being transphobic.

The flip-flop for Candace seemed to come along sometime in 2017; she was hired by Turning Point USA in November of that year to be their director of “urban engagement,” which is code for “we need somebody dark to talk to these darkies.”

In 2019, she famously stood on the CPAC stage and denied the existence of racism.

“Stop selling us our own oppression,” Owens said. “Stop taking away our self-confidence by telling us that we can’t because of racism, because of slavery. I’ve never been a slave in this country.”

I could go into a long and lengthy explanation of how what she said was ignorant and ignored the residue left behind by the institution of slavery and the enslavement of Black people in America. I could explain how that particular system directly led to a lot of the systems still in place that have an impact on the daily lives of Black people right this moment.

I could tell you that her statement revealed an incredible amount of ignorance on the part of Candace Owens, but instead, I will remind you that she made these statements 11 years after winning a lawsuit against her former school board — and said lawsuit was rooted in an accusation of racism she made against several of her high school classmates.

I will tell you that even in early 2016, Candace still believed in racism, and she still believed that she was suffering from the trauma of the racism she says she experienced as a high school senior in Stamford, Connecticut — so much so, that she wrote a letter to the local newspaper and talked about it.

In the letter, she details what she went through after receiving alarming phone calls from her classmates — calls in which not only was she threatened with physical harm, but she was called racist slurs and had racist things said to her.

Owens says she stayed out of school for six weeks because she did not feel safe; she waited until formal charges were pressed against those who had participated in the phone calls.

I stayed out of school for six weeks before formal charges were filed, and in that time the gossip escalated. It wasn’t limited to the students. Parents, teachers and you, the general public, felt inclined to state your opinions about me online.

I perused those words quietly, a stranger to the girl that the unsympathetic portion of you were depicting.

I was a liar.

I just wanted money.

I was ugly.

I was desperate for attention, another black girl taking advantage of a situation.

Somewhere deep inside, Candace Owens is still that traumatized teenage girl. She is still trying to find her place and figure out where she fits in, and I say that not to make people feel sorry for her, but to help people understand that this is just the latest ploy by a woman who has felt like an outsider her entire life.

She knows she doesn’t belong with them, but she can’t figure out if she really belongs with us either.

I watched her interview on “The Breakfast Club,” and I really wished she had chosen to go on a platform that would challenge her and the things she said.

It’s not that she said anything different than she has already been saying, but this time she framed it in such a way to make it seem as though she’s really on our side and really wants what’s best for Black people.

As I watched it, I couldn’t figure out what her angle was and why she was trying to win over Black people, but that became clear the next day when news broke that she had been fired from her role at the Daily Wire.

Candace Owens knows her time of grifting with white people on white platforms is likely over. They will let you get on their platform and talk a lot of nonsense, but don’t you dare say anything about any group of white people, and she made that fateful mistake.

Still, don’t fall for her latest jigaboo switcheroo.

Candace Owens doesn’t care about Black people. Candace Owens cares about Candace Owens, and her tour of Black platforms hosted by Black men is intentional. Notice she didn’t try to sit down with Gayle King or Oprah Winfrey or Tamron Hall or any other Black woman who potentially would call her out on her bullshit.

Nope. She aimed straight for Black men — specifically Black men like Charlamagne and Joe Budden who are prime targets for Owens’ rebrand campaign — a campaign she knew she couldn’t launch with a Black woman journalist or any journalist to be real.

When you are used to performing for the white gaze, you will find platforms that pander in the same kind of mess that you do; water seeks its own level.

Candace Owens is attempting to rebrand herself, and Black people shouldn’t fall for it.

Besides, they said “God is good,” to that goofy heffa, and she did not know the proper response is “all the time.” She actually asked, “Where did that come from?”

She also didn’t know what year Cash Money Records was taking over; she couldn’t say how many times Will Smith got in a fight before his mama sent him to live with his auntie and uncle in Bel Air; she didn’t know the name of Maya Angelou’s first and most famous book;  and she didn’t know Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s name. She didn’t even know the lyrics of the theme song of “Good Times.”

You can’t trust Black people like that.

Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at moniquejudge.com.

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