Here’s the latest from the racism-victim-hoax circuit, following the actor Jussie Smollett’s apparent lie that he was attacked by two men because he is black and gay.
This one involves Candace Owens, a striving African-American commentator and Donald Trump supporter. Her story is more nuanced than Smollett’s. At a conservative convention in Maryland last week, she issued the apparently startling revelation to some that “America is not a racist country.”
“Stop selling us our own oppression,” Owens, 29, said. “Stop taking away our self-confidence by telling us that we can’t because of racism, because of slavery. I’ve never been a slave in this country.”
Yet a decade ago as a high school student in Stamford, Connecticut, Owens and her family accepted a $37,500 city settlement after she accused a group of teens — one of whom was the mayor’s son — of leaving her threatening, racist messages.
“One night as I sat watching a movie, a group of anonymous boys called my cell phone and left me a series of voicemails,” she explained in a letter to The (Stamford) Advocate in 2016. “Their words, to this very day, represent the most horrific that I have ever heard uttered against another human being.”
Needless to say, her remarks last week, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, drew some stabs on social media, including one from The Atlantic’s sports journalist Jemele Hill, who is African-American. Like Owens, Hill also is making a name for herself on the racism circuit. She left ESPN’s “SportsCenter” in September after tweeting that Trump “is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself with other white supremacists.” For good measure she added: “Trump is . . . a direct result of white supremacy. Period.”
Of Owens’ $37,500 settlement, Hill wrote: “So I guess when she sued — and won — a lawsuit after receiving racist threats then she must have been in some other country.”
So how to square Owen’s “America is not a racist country” with her accepting a settlement apparently based on racism? What to make of this racial posturing, whether by Owens, Hill, Smollett or anyone else?
There’s no easy answer. But before joining the racism circuit, as Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris learned when she initially called Smollett’s so-called attack an “attempted modern day lynching”: Beware.