Candace Owens’ BLEXIT Foundation—founded to give people the false impression that Black voters are abandoning the Democratic party en masse for Republicanism—reportedly put together Saturday's campaign event thinly disguised as an official government function, where Donald Trump spoke to a pro-police Black and Latinx audience from the Truman Balcony during what was in effect his first in-person rally since his trip to Walter Reed. Two thousand people were reportedly invited to hear his “Remarks to Peaceful Protesters for Law & Order,” but many of the few hundred who showed up had their travel and lodging costs paid by Owens’ group, which described the official White House event as a “HUGE outdoor rally,” ABC reported Saturday morning.
The problem is, every time they align with Candace Owens, white Republicans prove just how uninterested they truly are in making inroads with Black folks. It’s tempting to chalk up their use of Owens—a conservative Black woman who carries no water with the vast majority of Black voters—as a consequence of white conservatives’ ignorance about Black folks’ most pressing concerns. But that’s far too generous an assessment of a ploy that’s as tired as it is sinister.
Owens isn’t actually there to be white conservatives’ emissary to the Black community. Rather, she’s a tool of racist propaganda and deflection—a Black mouthpiece who propagates and validates anti-Black talking points, while exploiting her own race to shield white racists, like Trump, from charges of racism.
Owens gets trotted out when white conservatives want to illustrate their idea of a “good” Black— willing to label Black culture pathologically “broken,” claim Black people are “pretending to be oppressed,” and smear Black Lives Matter as “domestic terrorists.” (And also, to misquote Harriet Tubman in a glorious display of historical ignorance and white supremacist revisionism intent on construing Black folks as their own oppressors.) Owens is the tokenized Black messenger white racists rely on to discredit millions of other Black voices demanding racial justice, whom they had no interest in hearing or heeding anyway. Her transformation into Republicans’ Black mascot just proves that their gestures toward Black voters are always made in bad faith.
None of this is to suggest Owens is without agency or a naive victim of the Republican party. Rather, she seems to eagerly and proactively do white racists’ dirty work, often in ways that conflict with her own past actions. As a teen in 2007, Owens sued and settled with the Stamford Board of Education after charging the district with failing to protect her from racist hate crimes by white classmates. But at a 2019 House hearing on hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism, Owens described the proceedings as Democratic “fearmongering, power and control.” She has called the NAACP, the same group that helped generate the press that likely helped her secure her settlement, “one of the worst groups for Black people.”
In 2016, Owens oversaw a website that suggested Donald has “a penis the size of an infant” and compared him to Hitler. Just three years later, she suggested the biggest problem with Hitler was that he dreamed too big. “If Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, okay, fine,” Owens stated. “The problem is he wanted—he had dreams outside of Germany. He wanted to globalize.”
Owens regularly traffics in misinformation, hypocrisy, and just straight-up getting facts wrong. She repeatedly maligned Ahmaud Arbery, once writing he was not “gunned down for the crime of being Black,” an assertion that even earned her the ire of other Black Republicans, and a strangely racist hill to die on considering the Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed that Arbery’s white racist murderer called him a “fucking n—r.” She has repeatedly insisted that the Exonerated Five of the Central Park jogger case are guilty, a contention countered by DNA evidence and the confession of the actual perpetrator. Owens blamed the September shooting of two Los Angeles police officers on what she labeled the “hyperbolic, dishonest rhetoric” of Black Lives Matter and LeBron James. It was an incredibly rich take coming from Owens, considering a New Zealand white terrorist murderer of 49 Muslims identified her by name in his manifesto, writing that she “influenced me above all.”
Owens has called victimhood “a mental plague on Black America,” but when protesters confronted her in a restaurant and pelted her with food, she readily played the race card. “I, a Black woman, was eating breakfast,” Owens tweeted. “Is this the civil rights era all over again?” She testified before Congress that “white nationalism ranks nowhere near the top of the issues that are facing Black America” on the same day the Department of Homeland Security released a report identifying white terror violence a pressing threat, and despite the FBI’s qualification of white supermacist violence as the greatest terror issue facing the country.
Identity politics are a frequent target of Owens’, despite the fact that her Blackness is the only reason she’s become such a vaunted figure within the GOP. She seems not to have noticed that Fox only brings her on when a Black face is needed to nod along as Lou Dobbs rants about BLM, to back up Laura Ingraham’s assertion that police were justified in murdering Breonna Taylor, to bolster Tucker Carlson’s attacks on Michelle Obama.
And then, there is Owens’ consistent references to the Democratic Party as a “plantation” that has again made slaves of Black folks. She argues that Black folks vote for Democrats in exchange for various handouts, such as food stamps and welfare. It’s a superficial, patronizing, and dumb political take that again shows Owens’ glaring lack of historical knowlege or insight. Never mind that Black people are politically diverse, as study after study shows, but have always had to make self-preservationist voting choices based on which party demonstrates even the most feeble commitment to civil rights. Forget how that has meant that post-emancipation, freedpeople voted for Republican advocates for Black rights, that they began defecting to Democrats in 1948 when Truman desegregated the military and the federal workforce, that Black folks became a solid Democratic bloc after Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 passage of the Civil Rights Act.
Instead, focus on how Owens consistently promotes the racist idea that Black people are indolent and lazy, how she suggests we—innately, presumably—lack the intelligence to synthesize information and make critical assessments about which political party best serves our needs. She’s echoing a Republican talking point, and the fact that the GOP elevates her for pushing that idea shows how deeply held their racist beliefs are.
People often suggest Owens is a grifter profiteering off the appearance of self-loathing; that she’s merely playing the part of a Black woman who—her words, not mine—”proudly self-identif[ies] as an Uncle Tom.” Maybe that was true once. But at a certain point, you are the performance. (Nigel Farage was at her wedding to the scion of a Tory fortune, so I think it’s safe to say it’s no longer a put on.)
Owens, by now, is probably a true believer in all the racist filth and nonsense she spouts. As are the Republican who sponsor her.