OPPORTUNISM

Meet Candace Owens, Kanye West’s Toxic Far-Right Consigliere

Candace Owens, a far-right vlogger and conspiracy theorist, has a new project even more questionable than her doxxing one: red-pilling Kanye West.

Tyler Sizemore/AP

“I love the way Candace Owens thinks.”

It was just one small tweet for Kanye West, sandwiched between aphorisms, Trump shout-outs, and sneaker pictures. But it was one giant leap forward for Candace Owens, the conservative commentator (and Fox News regular) behind the YouTube channel Red Pill Black. Knowing an opportunity when she sees one, Owens responded effusively to West’s tweet, writing @Kanye West, “Please take a meeting with me. I tell every single person that everything that I have been inspired to do, was written in your music. I am my own biggest fan, because you made it okay. I need you to help wake up the black community.”

A week later, Owens met up with Kanye in Calabasas. Then, last Tuesday morning, Kanye and Owens joined forces in what appeared to be the first step in Owens’ grand plan to “wake up the black community” with a once-beloved rapper by her side.

On a very special edition of TMZ Live, Owens appeared as Kanye’s backup and sidekick in head-to-toe Yeezy. West, who once famously declared that George W. Bush doesn’t care about black people, exhibited a full ideological 180, apparently thanks in good part to Owens. At one point, when called out for being a MAGA hat-wearing Trump supporter who just called slavery “a choice,” West retorted, “Trump is a human being also, and he’s in a very powerful position, and he’s doing a lot of things to actually help business owners be able to go past all these fake laws and rules. I mean, Candace can give you the facts better than that, but we need to speak to people… Why can’t it be OK for an influential rapper in the black community to go up to the president and talk to him about how we can make a change?”

In her latest video… Owens tries and fails to make a case for ‘Black Panther’ being a ‘pro-Trump movie,’ gleefully describing Wakanda’s isolationism at the beginning of the film.

With Kanye’s co-sign, Owens elaborated on her beliefs during the TMZ appearance. She defended neo-Nazis, regurgitated the debunked myth of the “Ferguson effect,” and insisted that Donald Trump has neither proposed harmful policies nor made offensive remarks toward the black community. Within a matter of minutes, she deplored the “war on cops” while dismissing the cop killings of black men and women as a “tiny issue.”

“I believe that right now black people are enslaving themselves to emotion,” Owens declared at one point, “and it’s actually not helping us. We seem to be going backwards.”

This appears to be Owens’ favorite argument. At a recent Turning Point USA event, Owens, who serves as its communications director, articulated her irritation with Black Lives Matter activists who were protesting the discussion. “I can guarantee what you’re seeing happening is victim mentality versus victor mentality… Victim mentality is not cool. I don’t know why people like being oppressed. It’s the weirdest thing I ever heard: ‘I love oppression. We’re oppressed. 400 years of slavery, Jim Crow.’ Which, by the way, none of you guys lived through. Your grandparents did. And it’s embarrassing that you utilize their history, you utilize their history and you come in here with more emotion than they ever had when they were living through it. You’re not living through anything right now. You’re overly privileged Americans.” (Turning Point USA has been accused of racism by former employees.)

Kanye West has also parroted some of these vile notions on Twitter, writing, “there was a time when slavery was the trend and apparently that time is still upon us. But now it’s a mentality” and “Constantly bringing up the past keeps you stuck there.”

Of course, Owens is spouting utter nonsense. At The Root, Michael Harriot dissected “Kanye West, Candace Owens and the Conservative Sunken Place,” writing, “Economists at the Federal Reserve of San Francisco report that black men earn about 70 percent of the salary of white men, while black women earn about 63 cents for every dollar a white man earns. That is a fact, not an opinion borne by self-pity and ‘constantly bringing up the past,’ as Ye’s tweets would have you believe. According to The Washington Post’s police-shooting database, 778 African Americans have been shot and killed by police officers since 2015. Over the same amount of time, 96 American civilians have been killed by Islamic extremists in the U.S.”

Harriot continued, “Yet Candace Owens and Kanye would have you believe that Black Lives Matter protesters who keep ‘bringing up the past’ are displaying a ‘victim mentality.’” 

If you have the stomach to check out Owens’ YouTube channel, you’ll find videos like “Women Marching in America Again? What a JOKE,” “The Left Uses ‘Racism’ To Control Black Voters,” “How to Escape the Democrat Plantation,” “Rape Vs. Regret: Here’s the difference” and “No Transgender People in the Army: Who cares?” In her latest video, published two months ago, Owens tries and fails to make a case for Black Panther being a “pro-Trump movie,” gleefully describing Wakanda’s isolationism at the beginning of the film: “They don’t allow the struggling outside people into their society, because, and I quote, refugees bring their problems with them.” In her spirited efforts to completely miss the point of the movie, Owens continues, “Wakanda was a thriving black nation because they were tough on borders, realize you shouldn’t give asylum to refugees… were these Africans alt-right?” (Nope.)

Interestingly enough, the Candace Owens who appears on Infowars and has called for “every single person under DACA” to be deported is a relatively recent invention.

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In 2015, Owens left a “high-paying finance job” to start the website Degree 180. In a 2016 post on Degree 180, Owens wrote about the Tea Party’s “bat-shit-crazy antics,” saying, “Call me weird but personally, when it comes to my ovaries, I prefer to speak to my gynecologist. I don’t think the LEADERS OF THE FREE WORLD, should have to be an expert on the issue, nor should they ever publicly voice their opinions. Yes, I understand that it was recently confirmed that the republicans are actually stuck in the 1950’s, and the leading scientists of the world are doing everything in their power to correct the time warp, but like, COME ON.”

“I actually remember being in 3rd grade and piecing together in my head that one of my guy friends was homosexual,” Owens continued. “I didn’t give a shit then, I don’t give a shit now, and the fact that he actually had to give a shit until this year about being himself is the most ridiculously pathetic and stupid thing that our government has inflicted upon a group of people for being themselves, since slavery.”

But everything changed when Owens went about setting up her next project: an anti-bullying website called Social Autopsy. On its Kickstarter campaign page, Owens elaborated on her site’s mission: “We attach [people’s] words to their places of employment, and anybody in the entire world can search for them. What we are doing is figuratively lifting the masks up so nobody can hide behind, you know, Twitter handles or privatized profiles. It’s all real, and it’s all researchable. You can still say whatever you want to say on social media, but you have to be willing to stand by your words.” 

In April 2016, Jesse Singal did a deep-dive into what happened next. The Kickstarter reportedly united “Gamergater and anti-Gamergate advocates alike” in their distrust of a potentially dangerous site that seemed to facilitate doxxing. As Singal reported, Gamergate target Zoe Quinn reached out to Owens to express concern about Social Autopsy. Owens claimed that, “about 45 minutes” after her final communication with Quinn, “she started receiving racist hate mail at the main Kickstarter contact email for Social Autopsy, and at her own personal email—the first email she received simply said ‘NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER’ (Owens is African-American). It soon became a deluge of harassment, some of it violent, with many of the fake email addresses the harassers used containing words like ‘gaming’ or a variation thereof.”

According to Singal, Owens eventually came to believe that Quinn and fellow Gamergate critic Randi Lee Harper were working together to harass her and undermine Social Autopsy. “She is convinced, based on a series of escalating misconceptions about how social media works, mixed with a dose of exposure to the Gamergate literature (and some helpful input from the Gamergate supporters who have been following her tweetstorms), that Quinn and Harper are making a lot of money by faking harassment against themselves to boost concern about the issue, and that they were worried Social Autopsy would blow their cover.”

Owens recalled this controversy from her own, very different perspective during a 2017 interview, sharing that she “wanted to do my own anti-bullying startup thing that went really sideways when the left tried to do hit pieces on me during the election, and that was my red pill moment.” She explained how Kickstarter eventually pulled her project, and complained that the mainstream media refused to corroborate her version of the story—that Zoe Quinn orchestrated a harassment campaign against her. “At that point I realized, oh my god, the media is going to try to kill my project, and these journalists are absolutely lying,” Owens continued.

She went on to connect the Social Autopsy fiasco to her newfound political beliefs: “My threat was that they actually thought that I had created technology that was going to unmask trolls. Imagine what that would have done in the heat of the election. Hillary Clinton had ‘millions of followers’ on Twitter, what if I actually create something and said actually, that’s all coming from like one person, they’ve created these accounts? She’s actually not winning this election. What if I found out on Twitter that the person that was writing ‘black lives matter’ saying ‘die, die, die, n-word’s’ was actually someone that worked in Hillary’s campaign to create this environment?”

No wonder Kanye West, the perpetual media critic who’s proven alarmingly susceptible to fake news, loves the way Candace Owens thinks.