New Bernie Sanders Adviser Apologizes For Shallow 2009 Tweets About Michelle Obama’s Looks: ‘I Took Part In A Misogynoirist Culture’
Phillip Agnew has apologized for his comments about the former first lady.
March 10, 2020 at 12:13 am
A new adviser for presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) has apologized for old tweets criticizing former first lady Michelle Obama.
Influential civil rights activist Phillip Agnew was hired by the Sanders campaign on Saturday as the senator tries to shore up support within the Black community in key states like Michigan and Florida, Newsweek reports. According to a press release from the Sanders campaign, Agnew is well known for his work as a youth organizer and leader of the Dream Defenders, a group founded after the death of Trayvon Martin.
But hours after the announcement was made, Agnew was forced to apologize for a number of tweets, including multiple criticizing how Obama looks.
"Random thought while standing in Gas Station: Michelle Obama is an odd looking woman… I'd call her ugly but I don't want the backlash…," he wrote back in 2009.
"Michelle Obama is just not pretty…I've tried to look at her from every angle possible," he tweeted.
I see Bernie's new outreach to African-American and mainstream Democrats is off to a great start. pic.twitter.com/D6ibxoB8Jq
— Dan SIoan ????????????????????????????️???? (@dantoujours) March 8, 2020
In his statement, Agnew apologized for his words and said, "I am not my tweets from 2009."
i am not my tweets from 2009.
still, words have power to heal & to harm and i acknowledge and apologize for when my words harm.
i've spent years speaking life and love into my community but i was wrong and i have to be accountable.
please take a minute to read my statement: pic.twitter.com/RCuFUyAr7W
— phillip agnew (@iPhilSomething) March 8, 2020
"I am writing to own that in 2009, when I was 23, I tweeted stupid comments about Michelle Obama. I am writing because I was wrong and I am writing to be accountable. I am sorry for the remarks that I made. I typed them as a young, immature, and insecure boy who thought he was forever invisible and 'invincible.' My comments were shallow, careless, sexist and cruel," Agnew wrote.
"As a young community organizer, I have spent hours, days, months and years doing, thinking and being better, privately and publicly. I've matured, been politicized, and continuously been pushed and challenged by my fellow organizers to change and grow into my values," he added.
Agnew profusely apologized throughout the statement, saying he is still a work in progress and that part of his justice work has been "ongoing critical self-reflection about the ways I have been part of or perpetuated problematic expressions of masculinity."
He also mentioned that Black men and boys are steeped in sexism and racism toward Black women and girls, particularly those with dark skin.
"While my past tweets were decidedly not about Blackness nor complexion nor Black womxn, I took part in a misogynoirist culture that ignorantly objectifies Black womxn as a whole. And I take full responsibility for my words and actions. The Black community has internalized so much trauma and I carry that with me every day. This is why I am committed to this work. I believe in the power of restorative processes in my community. Thank you for holding me accountable," he ended the statement.
There was a variety of responses to the statement with some people accepting his apology and others questioning why it took so long.
Thank you for having the courage to be accountable. Those of us who have known you over many years can attest to your growth and development. I’m not willing to throw you away and I’m here to help you grow.
— Jennifer R. Farmer ???? (@PR_Whisperer) March 9, 2020
Insincere. Also, for an apology to be sincere and rooted in remorse, it must come with changed behavior. Has your behavior changed? I'm disappointed that even in your youth, you'd describe the first Black FLOTUS in the terms you used. Hopefully going forward you'll be better.
— Uncle Nearest's Niece (@the_mcguire) March 9, 2020
I agree and the problem I have with your apology coming now is that the damage is already done. We recently went through the Snoop thing and his hateful rhetoric towards Gayle K. and I am tired of black men apologizing after they find out there is money at play.
— Sasha Rivera (@sistasuffragett) March 9, 2020
You were 23 not 5. So spare us your ‘I was young then’ bs pic.twitter.com/9fegB3oBE9
— NoChillMood (@ritaag) March 8, 2020
If you wouldn't say those things to Michelle Obama's face, then even at 23 you knew not to say them.
The difference now is that a job may hinge on your past words.
— mamarazzi2_4 (@mamarazzi2_4) March 8, 2020
Every single human being has done and said things we regret and in this day in age we all have a digital footprint.
I appreciate @iPhilSomething, the work he’s done & continues to do and his willingness to change. Something a lot of ppl aren’t willing to do today. ❤️
— Blakeley (@BlakeleyBartley) March 8, 2020
Cancel culture crew is hella forgiving when it's one of their own.????
I'm not part of that culture. But, as a black woman constantly battling ridicule from Black men based on physical features that look like mine… this is unacceptable & unforgivable. Save it.
— King Sassy (@SoSassy_Inc) March 8, 2020
It's just never as persuasive when an apology is made and it seems associated with a promotion or a move to a more visible role. It comes off as insincere, opportunistic, and empty. I do hope you grow but I don't believe you have truly grown as of yet. ✌️????
— Jay ⚖️ ????️???? (@DiamondHunter80) March 8, 2020
At 1st I thought this was a sincere apology until I saw Bernie. The question is, did the apology come as result of the new position? If so then it's definitely a PR apology. Why would it take you 11 years to realize your wrong. Did you apology to the the Obamas first?
— Lisa Knott (@chanel_glasses) March 8, 2020
I believe you. I believe people evolve. That being said, the Sanders campaign and Sanders people online are using Joe Biden quotes from 20, 30, and 40+ years ago and don't want us to believe he could have also evolved.
— Avril (@avrilnyc01) March 8, 2020
The Sanders campaign has not responded to requests for comment about the issue, but Sanders lauded Agnew for his community work when his hiring was announced.
“I am excited to welcome Phillip to our team. He is a gifted organizer and one of his generation’s most critical voices on issues of race and inequity. He has and will continue to push me and this movement to deliver on what is owed to Black people who have yet to experience reciprocity in this country,” Sanders said.