The rise of white supremacy has been debated at length in the wake of the deadly shootings that killed 50 people in two New Zealand mosques. But the rise of the black sellout has been largely ignored.
However, the New Zealand shooter, like other white supremacists, clearly understands the power of black voices parroting far-right rhetoric. I believe that’s why, when he wrote his 74-page manifesto on hate, he cited black conservative commentator Candace Owens as one of his greatest influences.
Owens, 29, who morphed from a Donald Trump critic to a Trump supporter around 2017, has become a leading critic of left-leaning black activist groups. Among her many controversial statements is her claim that Black Lives Matter activists are “whiny toddlers pretending to be oppressed.” Such pronouncements fly in the face of the reality that, as of 2016, unarmed blacks were five times as likely as their white counterparts to be shot and killed by police in America. But that doesn’t matter. When a black person repeats the false claims of racists, white supremacy wins.
That’s what makes black sellouts so dangerous to African Americans, religious minorities, and others. It’s also what makes them so useful to those who hate us.
For her part, Owens scoffs at the notion that she was an inspiration for the New Zealand shooter, writing on Twitter that she has never created content espousing her views on the Second Amendment or Islam. She also chided liberals: “The Left pretending I inspired a mosque massacre ... because I believe black America can do it without government hand-outs is the reachiest reach of all reaches! LOL!”
Still, it isn’t a reach to say Owens has done far better as a right-wing mouthpiece than she ever did in her previous life as a Trump critic.
Since lurching to the right, Owens has been appointed as communications director for the conservative student group, Turning Point USA. She has been featured prominently at conservative gatherings. President Trump has called her a “very smart thinker.” She’s been put up front to carry out her duty as a sellout, because when a black person repeats the false claims of racists, white supremacy wins.
To be sure, Owens is not the first black person to garner attention by spouting right-wing views. She is just the latest.
In truth, people such as Owens have always served as tools of white supremacy. I learned as much in 2000, when I visited the slave castles of Ghana and heard about African spies who were placed in holding cells by European slave traders. Their sole job was to listen and report back to thwart any plans for rebellion.
In the Americas, similar tactics became the norm.
Black overseers were used to enforce the brutality of slavery. House slaves — sometimes born of the rape of black women by white slaveholders — helped to form the light skin vs. dark skin caste system that undergirded chattel slavery.
For such tactics to be effective, it was necessary to control the thinking of the enslaved. They had to be convinced that it was right for blacks to be oppressed, and that challenging that oppression was an affront to the order of things.
That kind of mental enslavement helped to foil rebellions such as the 1822 uprising that was planned by Denmark Vesey — a former slave in Charleston, S.C. Vesey, an educated, skilled carpenter who had purchased his freedom some years before, enlisted up to 9,000 slaves in a plan to capture armaments, kill slaveholders, and free the enslaved.
The rebellion was halted before it began when a house servant warned whites about the impending uprising. Thirty-five black people were hanged as a result.
In essence, black sellouts have always helped to maintain white supremacy, and they’ve done so because they’ve adopted the mindset of their oppressors.
That’s why stopping the spread of white supremacist violence will require more than a change of heart on the part of white people. It will also require a change in thinking by blacks who’ve sold us out.