Candace Owens is a conservative African American video blogger and the communications director for Turning Point USA, a not-for-profit group aimed at educating young people about conservative values. She has taken a lot of fire from liberals for her outspoken support of Donald Trump and for her insistence that African Americans should abandon what she calls the “victim mentality” and should leave the Democratic party’s “plantation.”
On Wednesday, Owens got into a Twitter spat after she tweeted about her views on Tibbets’ death and on illegal immigration. One of Tibbets’ cousins fired off a series of angry tweets in response to Owens’ statement; Owens stood her ground but said she would “pray” for Tibbets’ family.
Here’s what you need to know about Candace Owens:
1. One of Mollie Tibbets’ Cousins Accused Her of Using Tibbets’ Death for Political Propaganda
Mollie Tibbets’ body was discovered on Tuesday, after the Iowa college student had been missing for a month. An illegal immigrant from Mexico, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, has been accused of the murder.
On Tuesday, Owens tweeted, “Leftists boycotted, screamed, and cried when illegal immigrants were temporarily separated from from their parents. What will they do for Mollie Tibbetts? What did they do for Kate Steinle They will NEVER see their parents again.”
A tweeter named Sam, who identified herself as one of Tibbets’ cousins, tweeted back at Owens, saying, “hey i’m a member of mollie’s family and we are not so fucking small-minded that we generalize a whole population based on some bad individuals. now stop being a fucking snake and using my cousins death as political propaganda. take her name out of your mouth.”
Instead of backing down, Owens replied, “I find it strange that you have directed obscenities and hate towards people that support the President, but you have not directed a single bad word toward the monster who committed this terrible crime. I will keep my anger and hate directed toward the savage illegal alien who committed this terrible crime and our broken immigration system which allowed this to happen. I will continue to pray for your family.”
2. Kanye West Says He ‘Likes the Way She Thinks’
Owens appeared with Kanye West in an infamous interview on TMZ, in which Kanye talked about how “slavery is a choice” and said, “black people have a tendency to focus and march when a white person kills a black person” but ignore “black on black crime.” You can watch the full video of their joint interview here.
Kanye said that he had gotten a lot of his ideas from Candace Owens. Their collaboration started one day when he tweeted that the “likes the was she thinks” and she wrote to him urging him to meet with her. He set up a meeting, and from there, it was just a short trip to the joint interview.
3. As a Senior in High School, She Experienced Intense Bullying and Racism
Owens grew up in Stamford, Connecticut. As a senior in high school, Owens says, she experienced a period of intense bullying — so intense that she brought charges against her bullies.
She says a group of her classmates left her voicemail messages threatening to kill her and calling her names. “You better not (expletive) be there, because you might get a bullet in the back of your (expletive) head,” proclaimed one message. In another one, the caller announces he’s going to kill Owens because “you’re (expletive) poor and you’re black, OK?” Another message said, “Martin Luther King had a dream. Look at that n—-, he’s dead.”
As a young adult, Owens launched Social Autopsy, an anti-bullying site dedicated to outing people who make offensive statements online.
4. She Runs a YouTube Channel Called Red Pill Black
Owens runs a conservative YouTube site called Red Pill Black. The second video on the site was a video commentary on the Charlottesville protest. Owens called on her audience to stop focusing on white supremacy and racism, and to focus, instead, on the crimes African Americans commit against each other.
Owens argued that, while racism does exist, it only rarely influences most people — she compared its frequency to lightning striking. Owens’ video about Charlottesville reached at least 80 million people.
Owens has also criticized the Black Lives Matter movement, claiming that it has discouraged police officers from answering calls to respond to crime in African American neighborhoods.
5. Owens Ran a Liberal Blog Called Degree 180 Until She Had Her ‘Red Pill Moment’
In 2015, Owens left a job in finance to start a left-leaning blog called Degree 180. The blog denounced the Tea Party Movement and then-candidate Donald Trump; it also included essays on personal development and other non-political issues.
But Owens says that she had her ‘red pill’ awakening around 2016, when she founded Social Autopsy and encountered push-back from liberals. The story of what, exactly, happened there — and who, exactly, was trying to stop Social Autopsy — is complex. You can read more about that here.
But the way Owens tells it, her experience trying to start Social Autopsy convinced her that the liberal media is a destructive force — and this was the start of her sympathy for Donald Trump, and her change of political affiliation.