Candace Owens at CPAC: How Can America Be a Racist Country If I’ve Never Been a Slave?

Candace Owens at CPAC: How Can America Be a Racist Country If I’ve Never Been a Slave?

Candace Owens, the communications director of conservative youth group Talking Point USA, went to CPAC on Friday to share the good news: racism is over, hooray!

That was the thrust of at least part of the speech Owens, an African-American, gave to what appeared to be a nearly all-white audience as she listed the great truths she preaches that have allegedly made uncountable numbers of minorities conservatives:

“Truth number one: America is not a racist country.”

Owens offers no evidence for this assertion other than a snarky crack at Jussie Smollett for allegedly paying two immigrants to fake a racist attack against him.

“Truth number two: abortion is murder.”

This got a lot of cheers. What got decidedly no cheers was her note a moment later that the African-American population would be double its current number if abortion had not been legalized in 1973.

Think about the irony of giving this data point to voters for the Republican Party, which has done its damndest to slash the social safety net that disproportionately serves minorities, pushed for harsher criminal penalties that disproportionately affect minorities, cheered on voter-ID laws that suppress the African-American vote and appointed justices to the Supreme Court who have gutted the Voting Rights Act.

It is incredible that heads didn’t literally explode from the cognitive dissonance required to contemplate the tension between these goals of doubling the African-American population while also trying to repress and control it.

“Truth number three: racially-motivated police brutality is a myth.”

Evidence arrayed against this assertion: data. Reams upon reams of studies have shown that police disproportionately brutalize minorities. It has been true throughout American history and remains true today.

But Owens doesn’t have to take my word for it. She could just talk to Van Jones, who was at CPAC on Thursday talking about his work on criminal justice reform, which is intended to remedy some of the very inequalities Owens insists doesn’t exist. Ironically, Jones gave conservatives credit for leading the way on criminal justice reform over the left.

Owens does complain about widespread absence of fathers in the African-American community. What she doesn’t mention is that this problem could be ameliorated by keeping more black men out of prison, a problem which is greatly exacerbated by the same racially-motivated law enforcement brutality she claims does not exist.

“Truth number four: there are 3.6 million black children living below the poverty line. There are four million Hispanic children that live below the poverty line. And yet Democrats want us to put illegals first. I say no thank you. I say build the wall.”

This got a standing ovation, despite the fact that, again, Owens offers no evidence to back it up, nor does she explain how a giant wall on the southern border would lower poverty rates for minority children. The idea that undocumented immigrants hurt minorities by taking away resources has been debunked repeatedly, though President Trump and his administration still find it to be a useful talking point.

“Stop telling us that we can’t because of racism, because of slavery. I’ve never been a slave in this country.”

Racism doesn’t exist because slavery was abolished in 1865. Counterpoint: literally all of American history in the 154 years since then.

No one expects Candace Owens to bring context regarding the history of systems of racial oppression in this country, and the ways they have evolved away from outright slavery to less visible means of robbing minorities of opportunities. But wouldn’t it be shocking if she did?

Watch a clip of Owens’s speech in the video at the top of this post, via NBC News.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.