White Supremacy Is More Than Just Skin Deep
It was irresponsible for congressional Republicans to give Candace Owens a platform to speak on white supremacy
This is the weekly column written by Blavity:Politics Senior Editor Kandist Mallett.
On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee hosted a hearing on hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism. One of the witnesses for the hearing was Owens, whose popularity spiked after receiving a shout out on Twitter from Kanye West.
I love the way Candace Owens thinks— ye (@kanyewest) April 21, 2018
Owens grew up in Stamford, Connecticut, a predominantly white city. In 2007, her senior year at Stamford High School, Owens and her parents, with the assistance of the NAACP, sued the school district for not protecting her rights and allowing her to be the victim of what would be classified as a hate crime. She allegedly had received threatening, racist voice messages from a group of white male students, including the son of the city’s then-mayor, who currently sits as governor of the state. According to Mic, the Owens family eventually settled their lawsuit with Stamford Public Schools for $37,500.
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Like most 28-year-olds, life circumstances may change one's politics, but the leap from once referring to the Republican Tea Party’s antics as “bat-shit crazy” in her a blog in 2015, to now being one of the leading voices in the gentrified version of the Tea Party has me continuing to wonder “how Sway?”
In 2016, Owens launched a Kickstarter to create a website known as Social Autopsy.
“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,” Owens reportedly said of the project, according to Intelligencer.
The website concept led to a backlash online from those who considered its intended use to be a form of doxxing. After the site’s launch, it even became the catalyst to Owens getting doxxed herself, receiving racist messages and eventually connecting her to the Gamergate trolling scandal, according to NBC News reports. Owens believed that the people responsible for leaking her information were progressive game developers, who were in the midst of a doxxing war with conservative gamers, as they were reportedly against the gaming industry becoming more inclusive.
Owens’ doxxing experience ultimately led her to finding allies in uber-conservative propagandist Milo Yiannopoulos and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich. Since then, Owens has become a Black voice that conservatives like to hang their hats on, speaking at CPAC, frequently appearing as a commentator on Fox News, and as previously mentioned, also acting as a witness during the recent hearing about white supremacy.
"White supremacy, racism, white nationalism, words that once held real meaning, have now become nothing more than election strategies," Owens said during the judiciary hearing, according to The Hill.
As one of Owens more pathetic moments, it really highlighted the internalization of white supremacy that Owens has ingested. Often when discussing white supremacy, we tend to identify and recognize those who wear swastikas or attend Klan rallies. However, white supremacy is deeper than that. The definition of white supremacy that I choose to use is one that looks at it as a mental and physical power structure, which has been indoctrinated into human consciousness throughout time.
There are degrees in which white supremacy exists amongst all of us, which requires active deconstruction to examine how we replicate its ideology in our everyday life. The Candace Owens and Kanye Wests of the world are extreme cases of what internalized white supremacy can look like. What makes them dangerous is when they are given legitimized platforms like a congressional hearing to spout their insightful ideas, which is why it was irresponsible for Republicans to invite Owens to the hearing to speak. If anyone is using white supremacy as a political ploy, it is Donald Trump — a person who Owens is so fond of. In a study released by the Washington Post, hate crimes increased by 226 percent in counties where Trump emphatically campaigned. Trump's whole 2016 campaign was about using the same dog whistle, southern strategy that Owens likes to deny ever happened.
White supremacy and white nationalism are a real threat to all that claim they want to live under a democracy. The next time Congress wants to hold a hearing on the matter, how about the Republicans do their job and take it more seriously?
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