Candace Owens, a 31-year-old conservative commentator and political activist, this week attacked the character of George Floyd, whose labored death at the knee of a policeman has stunned and enraged the world, inspiring global protests. Owens started a GoFundMe for Alabama restaurant owner, Michael Dykes, whose text messages surfaced online and cost him business. In these texts Dykes said, among other things, “Mr Floyd was a thug, didn’t deserve to die but honoring a thug is irresponsible.”
Just as quickly as Owens’ campaign raised $205,000, GoFundMe shut it down. According to the site, they ended the fundraising prematurely “because of a repeated pattern of inflammatory statements that spread hate, discrimination, intolerance and falsehoods against the black community at a time of profound national crisis.” Said Owens in a video: “I don't care WHAT George Floyd did. The officer should have never treated him like that and killed him! But we still must ask: Is he a hero....The fact that he has been held up as a martyr sickens me.” That video was retweeted by the President of the United States.
Owens has a forthcoming book called Blackout: How Black America Can Make Its Second Escape From the Democrat Plantation. During the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Hate Crimes and the Rise of Nationalism last year, Representative Ted Lieu played a clip of Owens discussing Hitler, in which she appeared to say that Hitler’s motive to “make Germany great” was “fine,” followed by a series of statements on “globalism” and how that was his downfall (she has since said that she was trying to make the point that nationalism should not be conflated with Hitler’s politics.) Owens has also called the Southern Strategy, the Republican Party shift that happened in the 60s, a myth. This explains the inaccuracy of her book’s title.
Owens has become the caricature she depicts other blacks as being. She once said she was a proud Uncle Tom. She’s bragged that being black isn’t the reason she’s become such a star on the conservative stage — a stage she wouldn’t have taken had she not been black.
When she received an avalanche of criticism for her obscene comments on George Floyd, Owens responded: “I've had time to reflect on my video about #GeorgeFloyd and you guys were right — I was very wrong. He went to prison 9 times, not 7. I missed two earlier convictions for theft and drugs.”
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of hurt in her words. I can identify. For someone well-versed in what it’s like to be constantly attacked for just existing, it took me decades to gain affection for the skin I wear. A black kid from the projects of South Side Chicago, I came from The Hole: an area of the Robert Taylor Homes aptly named because of how difficult it was to climb out of — most who tried left in a body bag.
And in the 34 years I’ve been black, I have been accosted, threatened, detained, stopped and frisked. I was accused of murder by cops who told me I “fit the profile” of the subject in question. There can't be that many black men who look like me. Either that, or blacks are the unluckiest group of people on the planet: we literally must all look alike.
I'm not the only one falsely accused. Of the 50 percent of crimes black people are claimed to have committed, black people represent 47 percent of the overturned convictions. Murder cases where black people were wrongly convicted were 22 percent more likely to happen than with white people. Among drug convictions, innocent black people are 12 times more likely to be convicted than innocent white people. That’s pretty substantial, considering we only make up 13 percent of the country.
Studies have shown Americans think black men are bigger and scarier than white men, even when they aren’t, and that African Americans don’t feel the pain the way “regular” people do. This is often used to justify denying us medical coverage and allowing us to get terrorized and bloodied by cops. Apparently, if it doesn’t kill us, we can take it.
I’ve wondered if Owens, and those who agree with her flippant response to a callous murder of a man by law enforcement, are suggesting that it’s more understandable to kill a man who has been locked up before. If that’s all it takes, I guess Martin Luther King, Jr. deserved what he got. He was arrested and thrown behind bars nearly 30 times.
Worse than that, Owens is implying that black men deserve whatever they get. She’s using George Floyd as a punching bag, wedging herself between people of color and reality, in order to criticize everything black. A lot of the time, when I hear her speak, I can’t help but feel like Candace Owens hates us.
Alex Miller is a veteran and writer from Chicago. He lives in Harlem
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