Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Nobody's Fool

Candace Owens has made quite a name for herself, especially in the past few months. She is the face of a movement of young Black conservatives called Blexit. She hosted a Roseanne apologia on her eponymous show. She defended Hitler. She recently appeared before a congressional committee to testify that white nationalism isn't a problem. And I'm pretty sure she's the person who nominated the despotus (my new name for the wannabe despot in the White House) for the Nobel Peace Prize.

After I saw this article about Owens' testimony in which she denied the historical record on the Southern Strategy, I tweeted this. I got a few retweets and engaged in a little more ribbing at her expense by chastising one of her followers, which also got me a few more retweets and a new follower. I also tweeted an article to her about a woman in Oklahoma who spray painted racist and anti-Semitic graffiti to scare people, just to demonstrate the absurdity of her sworn delusion.

But I've reconsidered whether Candace Owens should be dismissed as just another self-hating mouthpiece for right-wing propaganda. To diminish her intellect--a young college-educated Black woman is just as insulting as it is when the effort is aimed at another young college-educated Latinx woman who happens to be a Member of Congress. As a woman of color who is an advocate for other women of color to have the right to speak their truth in public spaces, I need to be more tolerant of opinions that differ from mine (and reality).

Therefore, Ms. Owens, you are not stupid. You are correct that you have the right to think for yourself and to declare your independence from a political ideology that you believe has kept Black people systematically enslaved. You have the absolute right to repeat whatever alternative facts you want under oath in front of a congressional committee. As the rightful leader of Blexit, if that should ever become a real thing (and not just a clever rebranding campaign for millennial Blacks who support this Regime), then you deserve to be taken seriously.

Candace Owens, I apologize.

Maybe I am jealous because when given the opportunity years ago to consider the advantages of being a young conservative, I followed my heart to become a crusader for civil rights and social justice. I pursued the well-worn path of other young idealist Black women by getting an advanced degree, choosing altruism as a career path, and then having to deal with the inevitable realities of disillusionment and burnout. The struggle for equality is relentless and taxing; thus for the time being, I have reinvented myself as another obscure blogger of strongly held opinions. You, on the other hand, are clearly a rising star.

YOU took the more difficult road less traveled. YOU declared an affinity for a political ideology that puts you at odds with most of the mainstream Black voices of influence. You've aligned yourself with an upstart organization that seeks to engage with young conservatives and that has become a rather lucrative and high-profile gig. I mean, I've been on C-SPAN too, but in the background as staff. YOU had a seat at the table.

You, Diamond and Silk, that random sister who was summoned appear at a congressional hearing to prove that Michael Cohen was a liar, Stacey Dash, and others have demonstrated the folly of seeking validation on the basis of talent and hard work. At any given hour of the day there is a progressive/liberal/Democrat person of color offering analysis on cable news, so instead of being just another voice in that choir, you can count on a regular spotlight and platform for your viewpoint. So no, you are definitely not stupid, nor willfully ignorant. It's a job, a role you play to get ahead.

So I won't stoop to calling you names or questioning your intelligence because I know that you know what you're doing. And for what it is worth, we do need Black faces on the other side of the political debate for the same reason why we need more of us engaged in the debate on the side that has alleged to have championed our interests all this time. Representation matters.

And I know how difficult it has been for you as one of the very few women of color to be allowed access to those other corridors of power. From the inside looking out, the rejection and ridicule you've faced has come mostly from people who look like you. I'm guessing that your political awakening started when one of your blond best friends told you how lucky you were to be a Black woman who would benefit from affirmative action to get ahead...and in solidarity with the unfairness she would have to endure, you chose a side.

Just be forewarned, so did plenty of others before you and their reward was the same thirty pieces of silver that seemed like so much more in theory than in reality. What good is the money, the infamy, the followers on social media, and the access if it costs you real friends, your integrity, and possibly your very soul?

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