I want to start by saying that I only know so much about Candance Owens. Not because she's irrelevant but because I only know so much about a lot of things. However, what I do know is that she is outspoken, at-times controversial but most importantly to me, she's a black woman in America out here for her coins and her greater purpose – whatever that might be. I recognize that she has a few opinions that are less-than-popular amongst the black community but this isn't me trying to drag her. I don't know her or all of her views, I just know what I saw and I'ma stick with that.
I also want to offer a caveat on her behalf. It must be difficult to be in a space where you're doing your job and people you don't know are making a scene or yelling questions at you before you have the chance to answer. Yes, it's their right to do so and I usually agree with them, but it can't be easy to be on the receiving end. So I don't want to focus on the level of anger and pettiness she has shown in the past, because I imagine and would hope that if she were approached in a different way she would be a bit more tactful. But I don't know, I'm just throwing it out there. She doesn't need my approval. I'm just saying that I notice her smug and I'm moving past it. Lastly, if you don't know who the new black slash black nouveau is Urban Dictionary has the answer. Once you've read the definition you'll realize that Candace and Kanye aren't alone in their views.. just niche.
By now, I'm sure you've heard that the Internet hates Kanye West again and now that they've learned more about Candace Owens, they hate her too. If you don't know, I'm linking an article from Complex because I have bigger fish to fry. When the controversy first started I wasn't really bothered because we all knew Kanye was a fool who spoke in riddles. But once I saw the video that Candace posted and started reading the articles and responses I became really interested in the conversation not being had and realized that this was the perfect opportunity for me to speak on something I'm really passionate about – black people and their path to success and fulfillment in modern America. Full disclosure, I am a black man living in America. For context, I was raised in the South and born into "privilege". I grew up in a 2 parent home where both my parents held post-graduate degrees, have white collar jobs and made x-amount of money. I'm a college educated millennial with my own business and no college debt, I'm handsome enough, I'm not currently suffering from any disabilities, and I identify as conservative - not republican, but conservative.
I say all this not because you should care but because I was once a part of the "new black". I admit that when I was younger I didn't believe in racism and thought that money was the ultimate equalizer and never truly understood how hard my parents worked and still work to pay their bills and follow their dreams. Once I left my small-town bubble where I was a big fish in a small echo-chamber, I quickly realized that I was blinded by the whiteness around me. Yes my childhood home is mainly white and beige, but also the white people in my life were happy to be around a black person who "didn't act black". I realized that my parents' success and now mine was somehow "proof" that they no longer needed to feel bad about the way their ancestors and this country dealt with mine. Well, unfortunately for them I left behind childish games when I became a woman. The issue with those types of white friends and their "Oreo" tokens is that they don't make space for complications. Which makes them unrealistic and flat. Which makes our friendship flat. Which makes it unproductive and unnecessary so I had to go. Back to Candace.
Overall, I think that Candace Owens has nothing but good intentions. From what I've seen and heard it seems that she's attempting to make an argument for growth, prosperity, and success. While I like all those things, I disagree with how she advocates the black community go about seeking them. Strictly off her Twitter clip from the UCLA event, there are many times where she says things that are either untrue, unfair or incomplete. Partner that with my own personal experience and I stand by my title - Candance, Kanye and The New Black as a whole aren't wrong, they (more so their arguments) are just incomplete. I, as a young black man, had never experienced life outside of the bubble created for me. I was incomplete. I don't know Candace's background but I can say that her argument on a motivational and a factual level isn't wrong, but it does lack context. It is incomplete. It's the equivalent of bad color complexion make-up. If you alter the lighting in your bathroom to fit the random makeup products gifted to you at Belks… anything is possible. But when you step into the natural light where you have no control and your makeup has to pass the smell test… you ain't shit.
Those of you, who've read my last post, will note that I love a Lincoln-Douglas style argument. It's simple, easy to follow and therefore easy to digest. However, that style doesn't work when discussing African-Americans and their relationship with success, capitalism, and America… because it's not binary. It's not easy, it's not simple and it's very hard to swallow. Most importantly, it's circular… cyclical… Actually, it's both.
Slavery happened. Jim Crow happened. Bad things happened to black people in America, at the hands of Americans, and at the feet of lady liberty herself. This is true. It's also true that those things are in the past. Moreover, black people today have a myriad of opportunities and success. Slavery and Jim Crow are illegal. We have progressed. However, just because we've progressed doesn't mean that we've plateaued. Black people doing well or the ability of black people to do well and the systematic oppression of black people are not mutually exclusive. Madam CJ Walker was born in 1867. William Leidesdorff, Jr. was born in 1810. Black people have proven their ability to maneuver within a broken system but that doesn't change the fact the system is broken. The core of Ms.Owen's argument is that black people should be vicTORS, not vicTIMS. But por que no los dos? Look at segregation. It was terrible for African-Americans socially, in terms of resources, access, etc. However, we'd be remiss if we didn't also acknowledge the fact that home ownership, education, and entrepreneurship thrived during that time period. Lemonade-out-of-lemons, we were the economical victors – which is why they burned down black Wall Street… Twice.
From where I stand, Candace is picking up the argument of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B DuBois . But that was over 100 years ago. Which is why white people on all sides live in this false binary space and why the black community suffers in the crosshairs of this argument that wants us to progress from a late 19th-century standpoint. In fact, one could argue that it's very telling of this world that we are having this conversation around the same distance of time from Jim Crow that Washington and DuBois had to slavery... just saying. Point being, after two of our greatest intellectuals – who were able to have mutual respect for each other and support each other – first initiated this argument, we then saw a Renaissance that proved our ability to prosper in despair. Identifying your victim status is not a step backward it is a step in the right direction. The first step, admit there's a problem….
Which brings me to my next point, the value of victimhood. Sunday on Fox and Friends, Ms. Owens says she sees no value in victimhood. To me, that's an incredibly unfair statement. Being a victim is not just a mindset, it's a fact. If you've been raped then you've raped. You can move on, grow, overcome and thrive but you were still raped. By saying that there's no value in victimhood Candace is denying people: their truth, ownership over their lives and agency over their stories. My life has value because I'm human. FULL STOP. I am worthy of all things promised to be by my God and my Constitution because I'm human and American. FULL STOP. My story – in all chapters - has value because the last two sentences are true. Therefore whether I'm a victim of a car crash, an oppressive country or bad taste, my victimization is apart of me and innately has value. Mentality doesn't change facts but it can change impact. Depending on how I deal with my victimization, I can decide how much value it has and how that value influences the rest of my life but no matter what, it is still there. The same way racism is there, today, RIGHT NOW. When Candace suggested that the two camps are either focusing on their past or focusing on their future I just kept thinking… what about their present? Black people are dealing with shit right now. To focus on the future is a luxury that black people don't have because they are trying to get through today. Black girls are missing today. LGBT people of color are dying RIGHT NOW. The police are shooting unarmed black citizens literally every day.
At the moment where Candace says that she can guarantee who will be successful in 20 years based off how they interact with her, I noted her arrogance – which she's entitled to – but I also realized that we were now dealing with the politics of respectability. This is something that tends to come into play when discussing the progress of black folks in America. You may know it as Uncle Tom-ing, White Washing, Selling Out, etc. A common narrative that the New Black place on black America is that if they changed their mindset and started "acting right" they'd be better off. Many have viewed the black community as "crabs in a barrel" fighting for the "crumbs" of the "Democratic plantation". However what they fail to mention is that the barrel isn't the crab's natural habitat and while the plantation might have been owned by Democrats the Republicans flipped that bitch for a profit. The idea that these activists who - albeit loudly - were asserting their first amendment rights were "just shouting" while her supporters were "sitting quietly trying to have a normal conversation" is quite frankly, bullshit. This isn't normal. Humans owning humans isn't normal. Systematic oppression in a Republic with a democratic society isn't normal. Even our oppression is unfair. African-Americans are not the only ethnic group to face oppression but we are the only ethnic group to be enslaved on American soil. We are also the only ethnic group to not receive some form of re-settlement help or reparations and we faced the longest stint of horrors. To put it in terms of capitalism – because Conservatives like capitalism - in a world where God isn't making any more land and they bought Manhattan a quarter and are selling apartments for $100,000,000, black people are fucked. Access matters. Longevity of access matters. The rate of return matters because it compounds. Success compounds. So while black people are legally free and racism is illegal, we can't simply ignore our past because it fundamentally affects our future. That's not to say that we can't overcome obstacles but it's really fucking hard and we'll never get the rate of return that white people got. Hell, women won't get the rate of return that men got.
So when Candace taunts the activist that they never lived through Jim Crow and that they aren't living through anything, I'd argue that if their parents and grandparents went through it… so did they. I'm not great at math but if in the scenario of "person and person make a child" also known as a+b=c, an outside variable (privilege, skin color, money, education, disability, beauty, etc) affecting one or both of the constants also changes the outcome. Right? Right.
Lastly, there's the shame. The shame that Candace Owens tries to attach to facts. It's what they do. Any time a receiver of shit calls out the person shitting on them, they try to make them feel bad. What were you wearing? Aren't you embarrassed that you're blaming your problems on something that happened 50 years ago? Shouldn't you have more pride than to take government assistance? I think I speak for literally everyone on Twitter when I say FUCK OFF. The idea that anyone who is a victim of circumstances outside of their control should have to somehow overcompensate or apologize for the facts and just make it work is exactly the reason why victims remain silent and little black girls are burning their scalps hoping to change the way God made their hair. Also... the pure optics of an educated and visible woman with a level of access and means like Candace Owens, yelling at a marginalized group about their ignorance while sitting on an actual podium, in a predominately white space talking to majority white people - who are pretty much guaranteed to agree with her- is too much
Ms. Owens has every right to her beliefs, her concerns, and her advocacy. She says that she thinks the ideas of the black community are poisonous and I agree. The belief that a system built on the rape, pillage, murder, and oppression of generations of people should be held accountable just might kill America, as we know it. But to be fair, America as we know it isn't that great.