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Candace Owens

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Candace Owens
Candace Owens by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Owens in 2018
Born (1989-04-29) April 29, 1989 (age 29)
Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.
ResidenceNew York City, New York, U.S.
OccupationPublic speaker, blogger
EmployerTurning Point USA

Candace Owens (born April 29, 1989)[1] is an American conservative commentator and political activist. She is known for her pro-Trump stance and her criticism of Black Lives Matter and of the Democratic Party.[2][3][4] She is the Director of Communications at the conservative advocacy group Turning Point USA.

Early life and education

She is African-American and grew up in Stamford, Connecticut,[5] Owens is a graduate of Stamford High School.[6] She was raised by her grandparents after her parents divorced.[5]

In 2007, while a senior in high school, Owens received threatening racist phone calls that were traced to a car in which the 14-year-old son of then mayor Dannel Malloy was present. Owens' family sued the Stamford Board of Education in federal court alleging that the city did not protect her rights, resulting in a $37,500 settlement.[6][7]

Owens was pursuing an undergraduate degree in journalism at the University of Rhode Island but left school after her junior year.[5] Afterwards, she worked for Vogue magazine.[6] In 2012, she took a job as an administrative assistant for a private equity firm.[6]

Career

Privacy violation, Gamergate and political transformation

Owens launched SocialAutopsy.com in 2016, a website she said would expose bullies on the Internet by tracking their digital footprint.[5][6][8] The proposed site would have solicited users to take screenshots of offensive posts and send them to the website, where they would be categorized by the user's name.[6] She used crowdfunding on Kickstarter for the website. The proposal was immediately controversial, drawing criticism that she was de-anonymizing (doxing) Internet users and violating their privacy.[5][9] According to The Daily Dot, "People from all sides of the anti-harassment debate were quick to criticize the database, calling it a public-shaming list that would encourage doxing and retaliatory harassment."[10] Both conservatives and progressives involved in the Gamergate controversy condemned the website.[5]

In response, people began posting Owens' private details online.[5] Owens blamed, without evidence, the doxing on progressives involved in the Gamergate controversy.[5][9] After this, she earned the support of conservatives involved in the Gamergate controversy, including right-wing political commentators and Trump supporters Milo Yiannopoulos and Mike Cernovich.[5] After this, Owens became a conservative, saying in 2017, "I became a conservative overnight ... I realized that liberals were actually the racists. Liberals were actually the trolls ... Social Autopsy is why I'm conservative".[5]

Kickstarter suspended funding for Social Autopsy, and the website was never created.[9]

Media and conservative activism

In 2015, Owens founded the website Degree180.[2][5] The website frequently posted anti-conservative and anti-Trump content, including mockery of his penis size.[2][11] In a 2015 column that Owens wrote for the site she criticized conservative Republicans, writing about the "bat-shit-crazy antics of the Republican Tea Party", adding, "The good news is, they will eventually die off (peacefully in their sleep, we hope), and then we can get right on with the OBVIOUS social change that needs to happen, IMMEDIATELY."[5][12][13][8][5] When Buzzfeed News in May 2018 reported on the anti-Trump content on Degree180, Owens described the Buzzfeed reporter as a "despicable creature" and alleged that Buzzfeed had threatened the former writers of Degree180 (an allegation that Buzzfeed denied).[2]

By 2017, Owens had become prominent in conservative circles for her pro-Trump commentary and for criticizing liberal rhetoric regarding structural racism, systemic inequality, and identity politics.[2][3][4] In 2017, she began posting politically themed videos to YouTube.[2] She launched Red Pill Black, a website and YouTube channel that promotes black conservatism in the United States.[14][15]

On November 21, 2017, at the MAGA Rally and Expo in Rockford, Illinois, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk announced her appointment as the organization's director of urban engagement.[16] Turning Point's hiring of Owens occurred in the wake of allegations of racism at Turning Point.[2]

In April 2018, Kanye West tweeted "I love the way Candace Owens thinks."[17] The tweet was met with derision among some of West's fans.[18] In May 2018, President Donald Trump stated that Owens "is having a big impact on politics in our Country. She represents an ever expanding group of very smart 'thinkers,' and it is wonderful to watch and hear the dialogue going on...so good for our Country!"[19]

Owens has appeared on fringe conspiracy websites, such as InfoWars.[5][8][3] In 2018, she guest hosted on Fox News.[5] After finding mainstream success, Owens distanced herself from the far-right conspiracy websites, although she refused to criticize them.[5]

In May 2018, Owens suggested that "something bio-chemically happens" to women who do not marry or have children, and she linked to the Twitter handles of Sarah Silverman, Chelsea Handler and Kathy Griffin, saying that they were "evidentiary support" of this theory.[20][21] Silverman responded, saying "It seems to me that by tweeting this, you would like to maybe make us feel badly. I'd say this is evidenced by ur effort to use our twitter handles so we would see. My heart breaks for you, Candy. I hope you find happiness in whatever form that takes."[20] Owens responded, accusing Silverman of supporting terrorists and crime gangs.[20]

Political views

Ideology

The Guardian has described Owens as "ultra-conservative",[22] and New York magazine and the Columbia Journalism Review have described her as "right-wing".[23][24] The Daily Beast has called her views "far-right" and the Pacific Standard called her a member of the "alt-right",[8][25] though she has rejected both terms.[26][27]

2017 onward support of Donald Trump

In 2017, Owens began describing herself as a conservative Trump supporter.[28][5]

Owens has since characterized Trump as the "savior" of Western civilization.[4] She has argued that Trump has neither engaged in rhetoric that is harmful to African Americans nor proposed policies that would harm African Americans.[22][8]

Race relations

Owens is known for her criticism of Black Lives Matter.[4][29][30][31] She has described Black Lives Matter protesters as "a bunch of whiny toddlers, pretending to be oppressed for attention."[32] Owens has argued that African Americans have a "victim mentality" and often refers to the Democratic Party as a "plantation".[22][29] She has argued that the American left "like black people to be government-dependent".[33] Owens has argued that black people have been brainwashed to vote for Democrats.[3] She has argued that police violence against black people is not about racism.[29][32] According to The Guardian and The Daily Beast, Owens has referred to police killings of black people as a trivial matter to African Americans.[22][8] She has characterize abortion as a tool for "the extermination' of black babies."[5]

After the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Owens said that concern over rising white nationalism was “stupid”.[5]

Climate change

Owens rejects the scientific consensus on climate change.[34][5] She has called climate change a lie used to "extract dollars from Americans."[5]

Me Too movement

Owens described the Me Too movement – which is an international movement against sexual harassment and assault – as "stupid" and said that she "hated" the movement.[35][36] Owens wrote that it was premised on the idea that "women are stupid, weak & inconsequential."[35][36] She has repeatedly criticized feminism.[37]

Dispute with Mollie Tibbetts' family

In August 2018, Owens had a dispute with a cousin of Mollie Tibbetts. Mollie was murdered, allegedly by Cristhian Bahena Rivera, an illegal alien working under a false name who was arrested and charged with Mollie's murder and who subsequently led investigators of the Poweshiek County Sheriff's Office to Mollie's body.[38] Tibbetts' cousin criticized Owens saying she exploited Tibbetts' death and used Tibbetts' death as "political propaganda."[39][40] Owens responded, describing the cousin's criticism as a "strange" attack on Trump supporters.[41] After the dispute, a local chapter of Turning Point USA criticized Owens for "public harassment" towards a member of Tibbetts' family.[41]

Promoting conspiracy theories about October 2018 bombing attempts

In October 2018, during the bombing attempts targeting prominent Democrats, Owens promoted the conspiracy theory that the bomb mailings were sent by leftists.[42] After authorities arrested a 56-year-old suspect who is a registered Republican and Trump supporter on October 26, Owens deleted her comments without explanation.[43]

Blexit movement

In October 2018, Owens launched the Blexit movement, a campaign to encourage African Americans to abandon the Democratic Party and register as Republicans. The term Blexit—a portmanteau of “black" and "exit”—mimics Brexit, the word used to describe the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union. On the launch, Owens said that her "dear friend and fellow superhero Kanye West" designed merchandise for the movement, but the following day, West denied being the designer and disavowed the effort, saying "I never wanted any association with Blexit" and "I've been used to spread messages I don't believe in."[44][45][46] Shortly after the launch, The Daily Beast found that approximately 16 percent of the total tweets using the #blexit hashtag were from Twitter accounts associated with the promotion of Russian disinformation.[47]

On October 31, 2018, Owens was sent a trademark infringement cease and desist letter by an attorney for Blexit, a Minneapolis-based non-profit founded in 2016 that is developing a black-led credit union.[48][49][50]

References

  1. ^ "Joe Rogan Experience #1125 – Candace Owens". PowerfulJRE. May 31, 2018. Event occurs at 1:43. Retrieved June 24, 2018. I just turned 29.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "The Newest Star of the Trump Movement Ran a Trump-Bashing Publication – Less Than Two Years Ago". BuzzFeed. May 15, 2018. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Ohlheiser, Abby (April 25, 2018). "Analysis | 'The Mob Can't Make Me Not Love Him': How Kanye West Joined the Pro-Trump Internet". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Kornhaber, Spencer (April 23, 2018). "What Kanye West and Shania Twain See in Donald Trump". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "YouTube Tested, Trump Approved: How Candace Owens Suddenly Became the Loudest Voice on the Far Right". NBC News. June 23, 2018. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Cuda, Amanda (March 5, 2016). "We Were Children. I Wasn't the Only Victim". Connecticut Post.
  7. ^ "Racist Threats Case Filed by Stamford High Student Settled for $37,500". Danbury News Times. January 23, 2008.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Zimmerman, Amy (May 9, 2018). "Meet Candace Owens, Kanye West's Toxic Far-Right Consigliere". The Daily Beast. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Singal, Jesse (April 18, 2018). "The Strange Tale of Social Autopsy, the Anti-Harassment Start-up That Descended into Gamergate Trutherism". Select All. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  10. ^ Controversial Bully Shaming Database Loses Kickstarter but Will Launch Anyway. The Daily Dot, April 15, 2016
  11. ^ Sanchez, Luis (May 15, 2018). "Activist Praised by Trump Once Ran Online Publication That Mocked Him: Report". TheHill. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  12. ^ "Degree180: Candace Owens' Defunct Liberal-Leaning Website". May 16, 2018. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  13. ^ Owens, Candace (October 4, 2015). "News Update: The Republican Tea Party Is Led by the Mad Hatter". Degree180. Archived from the original on August 13, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  14. ^ Watkins, D (September 25, 2017). "Candace Owens of Red Pill Black, the Toxic Right's Newest African-American Star". Salon.
  15. ^ Fox News: "Liberals Sick of the Alt-Left Are Taking 'the Red Pill'" By Elizabeth Ames September 13, 2017
  16. ^ "In Liberal Illinois, TPUSA's Charlie Kirk and Other Speakers Strike a Chord with Conservative Crowds – Turning Point USA News". May 3, 2018. Archived from the original on May 3, 2018. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  17. ^ "Kanye West Tweets that He Likes the Way Far-Right Personality Candace Owens 'Thinks'". The FADER. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  18. ^ "Kanye West Applauds Black Lives Matter Critic; Many Fans Revolt: 'This Is So Disturbing'". TheWrap. April 21, 2018. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  19. ^ Shelbourne, Mallory (May 9, 2018). "Trump Praises Conservative Activist Candace Owens as a 'Very Smart Thinker'". TheHill. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  20. ^ a b c "Candace Owens Gets Gently Dunked on by Sarah Silverman over 'Women Who Don't Marry' Tweet". SFGate. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  21. ^ "Sarah Silverman Responds to Conservative's Suggestion That Single Women Without Children Are 'Bio-Chemically' Affected". Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  22. ^ a b c d Lartey, Jamiles (May 9, 2018), "Trump Praises Controversial Pundit Candace Owens as a 'Very Smart Thinker'", The Guardian, retrieved May 18, 2018
  23. ^ Feldman, Brian (April 23, 2018). "Kanye West, Galaxy Brain". New York Magazine. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  24. ^ Vernon, Pete (April 24, 2018). "Politics Meet Publishing in Vooks by Chozick, Farrow, Goldberg, Tapper". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  25. ^ Abdurraqib, Hanif (April 27, 2018). "Why Is Kanye West Sounding Like the Alt-Right?". Pacific Standard.
  26. ^ @realcandaceo (April 21, 2018). "Far right? Allow me to clarify: I believe the black community can do it without hand-outs" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  27. ^ @realcandaceo (May 9, 2018). "I'm not opposed to it. Send me an e-mail" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  28. ^ Kenney, Tanasia (May 19, 2018). "Is This a Trick? Candace Owens Headed an Anti-Trump Publication Less Than Two Years Ago, Report Reveals". Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  29. ^ a b c "Who Is Candace Owens, Kanye West's Favorite New Thinker?". The Daily Dot. May 14, 2018. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  30. ^ "In Kanye West, the Right Sees Truth-Telling and a Rare A-List Ally". The New York Times. April 27, 2018. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  31. ^ "The Ignorance of Kanye West". Vox. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  32. ^ a b Scott, Eugene (April 22, 2018). "Analysis | Kanye West's Embrace of a Black Trump Supporter Not Well-Received". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  33. ^ "'I Love the Way Candace Owens Thinks'". NewsComAu. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  34. ^ "TPUSA Representatives Talk Identity Politics, Trump and Empirical Evidence". The Stanford Daily. May 30, 2018. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  35. ^ a b Sommer, Will (June 13, 2018). "Conservatives Turn on Candace Owens, Kanye West's Favorite Republican". The Daily Beast. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  36. ^ a b Herndon, Astead W. "At Conservative Women's Conference, a Safe Space for Trumpism". Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  37. ^ Nagle, Angela (December 2017). "The Lost Boys: The Young Men of the Alt-Right Could Define American Politics for a Generation". The Atlantic. Candace Owens, a popular young black conservative also known as Red Pill Black, has mastered new media platforms, but in service of advocating for something closer to a traditional strain of conservatism: She’s critical of the press, feminism, and open borders, but supports gay marriage
  38. ^ "Members of a Conservative Student Group Apologize to Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens over 'Misunderstanding' on Mollie Tibbetts Event". Business Insider. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  39. ^ "Mollie Tibbetts' Twitter Shows She Was a Strong Feminist and Clinton Supporter. Some Republicans Are Using Her Death to Push for Trump's Border Wall". Insider. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  40. ^ "Mollie Tibbetts Relative Tells 'Despicable' Partisans Not to Politicize Her Distant Cousin's Death". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  41. ^ a b Bixby, Scott (August 24, 2018). "TPUSA Members Quit in Protest of 'Exploiting' Mollie Tibbetts' Death". The Daily Beast. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  42. ^ Relman, Eliza (October 24, 2018). "Prominent conservative activists and talking heads are promoting a conspiracy theory that Democrats sent explosive devices to Clinton, Obama, and Soros". Business Insider. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  43. ^ Gilmour, David (October 26, 2018). "Candace Owens under fire for deleting bomb threat conspiracy tweet". The Daily Dot. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  44. ^ Anapol, Avery (October 30, 2018). "Kanye West denies he designed 'Blexit' shirts: 'I've been used'". TheHill. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  45. ^ Klinkenberg, Brendan (October 30, 2018). "Kanye West Distances Himself From Alt-Right Provocateur Candace Owens". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  46. ^ "What is Blexit?". The Week UK. October 29, 2018. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  47. ^ Sommer, Kevin Poulsen|Will (November 3, 2018). "Exclusive: Russian Propaganda Veterans Push Candace Owens' 'Blexit'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  48. ^ Sommer, Will (October 31, 2018). "Pro-Trump Activists Blame Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens for Losing Kanye West". The Daily Beast. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  49. ^ Poulsen, Kevin (November 2, 2018). "Russian Propaganda Veterans Push Candace Owens' 'Blexit' Campaign". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  50. ^ "BLEXIT on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved November 1, 2018.

Further reading

External links