art tavana
Jul 17 · 65 min read
Candace Owens is the founder of Blexit and the “Red Pill Black” YouTube Channel. She currently hosts “The Candace Owens Show” on PragerU (image designed by Art Tavana)

On the 18th of August, 2018, Playboy magazine flew me out to Washington D.C. to interview Candace Owens; it was to be an interview conducted in the time-honored tradition of Hugh Hefner’s libertarian philosophy. But for the next nine months, the interview was placed in a state of limbo. After nearly a year of confusion and obstruction, I began to ask questions: one source inside Playboy told me that the suppression of the interview was timed with a politically-motivated purge by the President of Media and other executives; other sources alerted me to the fact that archived articles were being expunged from the website, while columnists were being replaced and interviews with conservatives were suddenly being cancelled. This was the same publication that had contracted me as a conservative columnist. This was the same publication that once published William F. Buckley Jr. With over a decade of media experience, I’ve never once lobbed a protest relating to editorial malpractice, but what troubles me is that while my editor wanted to publish the interview (which Playboy had commissioned and paid for), pressure groups from within Playboy did not. Upon investigation, it seemed the same censorious executives who had been rewriting the Playboy philosophy since 2017 were now at odds with the editors and readers of Playboy. The Bunny Empire was in the middle of an ideological civil war, and the Candace Owens interview was caught in the middle. Amidst all the chaos, the classic Playboy interview became collateral damage. Since 1962, the long-form Playboy interview printed discourse that was immune to political correctness — it produced scandal and uproar. The Playboy interview never submitted to political protest or partisanship, and it was the protected property of the First Amendment. It was one of the only thought-provoking gateways to interviews with unlikable properties like Malcolm X, Ayn Rand, Fidel Castro, and in October 2018, Fox News star Tucker Carlson (an interview that was nearly abandoned due to internal protest). And yet, just as the Tucker Carlson interview ran, Candace Owens was left dangling in journalistic purgatory. Why? In the process of redefining itself as a more politically-correct publication, it seems the decidedly libertarian Playboy interview was becoming more P.R.-friendly and “woke.” In 2015, Playboy censored nudity in order to appease their critics. In 2019, in a less publicized move, they had neutered the Playboy interview in order to appease their critics — who now exerted actual influence over the magazine. With the Bunny Empire being pulled in different directions by repressive ideologues, which one source described to me as “Gloria Steinem feminists,” I asked to publish the interview independently. On May 16th, I was given the legal right to do so. It’s being published as an indelible protest of ideological discrimination and unofficial forms of censorship. Regardless of your political persuasion, the following interview offers a compelling portrait of Candace Owens between August 2018 and February 2019.

Candace Owens, 30, can be as unclubbable as a Black Panther leaning back in William F. Buckley Jr.’s swivel chair. On Fox News, she is the sharply dressed and gimlet-eyed messenger of a political movement: Blexit (a portmanteau of “black” and “exit”) which is engineered to disrupt the Democratic Party’s hegemony over the black vote. Whatever your judgement is of her ferocious public persona, or the veracity of her conservatism, Candace Owens has established herself as an uncompromising speaker who stretches the First Amendment beyond its elastic limits.

The press has described her as a conservative activist, con-artist, red-pill YouTuber, nightmare, and per MSNBC’s Van Jones, “…the next Megyn Kelly.” In terms of the “tale of the tape,” Ms. Owens possesses a dangerous blend of beauty, ambition, boldness, and a willingness to weaponize her identity as a kind of nuclear deterrent. The following interview is an attempt to study her strategy and the roots of her steel-melting rage, which can, for some, result in the sort of blinding experience one associates with gazing at a nuclear explosion without safety goggles.

A degree of her extremism is undoubtedly rooted in trauma, which began by being viciously pelted with the N-word in high school. At 18, Ms. Owens was struggling with anorexia. In 2016, she attempted to launch Social Autopsy as a project that would help unmask online trolls, which was widely criticized as providing the skeleton of a doxxing platform (which she denies). In middle of 2016, Candace Owens, a 27-year-old with a background in finance, had not yet been seduced by the right-wing of American politics. Her metamorphosis occurred roughly a year later in the form of a clenched fist that punched through the rubbles of Social Autopsy; appearing on YouTube, she was reborn as a “red pilled” Trump supporter. The motivation behind her reinvention is what so many of her critics wrestle with. During the course of two separate interviews in D.C. and L.A., she pulverized criticism like a war-mad military leader; she is so dedicated to fighting for her cause that she swings it in one hand, and shields it in the other — the black Valkyrie of “Make America Great Again.” Though her critics would say that Candace Owens is fighting for a more superficial cause: her celebrity. Depending on the line of inquiry, she oscillated between iron-willed, polemical, razor-sharp, muddled, volcanically domineering, and as unpredictable as a natural disaster. At times, Candace Owens could be a publicist with the message discipline of a battle rapper; a passionate litigator with no regard for courtroom decorum and a baseball slugger with no desire for small ball.

America’s interest in Candace Owens was piqued last April, when she became a mainstream curiosity after Kanye West tweeted his fondness for her: “I love the way Candace Owens thinks,” which broadcasted Ms. Owens into the arena of popular culture. Within minutes, she had been knighted with the rubber soles of a billion-dollar Yeezy empire. In the process, she gained thousands of followers on Twitter: her “microphone to the black community.”

Last October, Kanye West distanced himself from the launch of Blexit, claiming that he felt “used.” Without his endorsement, and her reputation wounded by negative press, Candace Owens confidently continued to pursue the black vote through her PragerU podcast and public speaking, which are no longer directly associated with pro-Trump campus youth organization, Turning Point USA. On May 1st, she left her position as Communications Director of Turning Point USA (a position she had held since 2017).

Of course, one can lob a protest at the effectiveness of rhetoric and question her value to the conservative movement. And so, in the tradition of the classic Playboy interview that once confronted, rather than eschewed controversy, I believe an interview with Candace Owens offers a profitable, rather than unprofitable inquiry into the mind of a debate-stirring political activist.

Los Angeles, February 2019

The last time we met, you rejected being a Republican or a member of a party. Are you still unaffiliated or are you now a member of the GOP?

I actually registered to become a Republican for the first time after the Brett Kavanaugh hearing and seeing what they did to him. It completely changed the game for me.

Do you feel that it hurts your advocacy? Do you feel like you might be advertising the idea that you’re now recruiting for the GOP?

No, because I advocate for being an independent, and making a well-informed decision. I made a well-informed decision. I felt that I had waited, and after the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, I wanted to become a Republican. In terms of my public persona, I still don’t get on a stage and tell people to join the Republican Party. There’s no clip of me telling people to join the Republican Party. There’s still compartments of the Republican Party that I don’t like, that I think are “swampy,” to put it in Trump terms, but I do feel that right now the Republicans are coming together in a way that I haven’t seen them come together before, and the Democrats are interested in staging anarchy in the country at the moment.

Let’s backtrack to October, when the New York Post reported comments during the Blexit launch, when you said, “Blexit is a renaissance, and I am blessed to say that this logo and these colors were created by my friend and superhero Kanye West.” The headline of the story mentioned T-shirts that were designed by Kanye, which is something you never said, but you did say that Kanye created the logo and the colors, except Kanye said on Twitter, “I introduced Candace to the person who made the logo, and they didn’t want their name on it, so she used my name.” He went on, “I never wanted any association with Blexit.” Did he design anything for Blexit?

Number one, I am not retracting any of my statements. Number two, I do not believe Kanye West wrote the tweets, period, full stop. We all know how Kanye talks. Kanye did not write those tweets.

Obviously, he felt used, as per his statements, which you agreed with in the response you wrote on your blog.

The perpetuated narrative was that Kanye created T-shirts for Blexit; that’s what went viral worldwide. In reality, regardless of how involved he was, I did not want to launch Blexit off his name. It was my idea. It doesn’t matter how involved he was or not, it took a life of its own, and they made it about him. That wasn’t fair to him. His design team said that he designed T-shirts that he never designed, and I felt it was necessary to apologize because if something that I said was misinterpreted, and it caused a firestorm in someone’s life, then I would want to apologize. That said, I’m not taking back any of my statements. I never lied. I do not lie, but you have to decide what’s worth going to war over and you have to think big picture, and when I look at this big picture, I think Kanye did more for the black conservative movement. He absolutely gifted us. Do I believe that today Kanye owes me an apology? Yes. Do I believe that he owes Charlie an apology? Yes. But you know what? He also did some really amazing things for us. I look at that situation and see it as a net positive. That’s it.

What does success look like for Blexit?

Cracking the black vote. Making people compete for our votes, whether it’s left or right. They should compete. It shouldn’t be “we got this in the bag because we’re Democrats,” or “we got this in the bag because we’re Republicans.” They should be competing with better ideas, not emotional arguments like “that guy is racist,” or fear-based tactics, like “vote for us or you’re going to end up back in slavery,” which I felt like the entire argument against voting for Trump was. What did Hillary offer the black community? Nothing. So that’s what success looks like, actually hearing these people say, “This is what we’re gonna’ do to make your communities better,” and maybe having some of them have the audacity to admit they didn’t do anything to make our communities better.

“Do I believe that today Kanye owes me an apology? Yes. Do I believe that he owes Charlie (Kirk) an apology? Yes. But you know what? He also did some really amazing things for us. ..”

A lot conservatives who’ve feuded with you on social media, like Ben Shapiro and Tomi Lahren, argued that you aligned yourself with someone (Kanye West) who clearly isn’t a conservative, someone who was eventually going to go on social media and renounce the movement, which would hurt you and your cause — which actually happened.

They were saying he was going to renounce Trump, which he didn’t. So ,they were wrong. And don’t be so foolish as to think that their beef with me is about Kanye West. It’s much pettier than that. Tomi Lahren’s beef with me is about the fact that she felt like Charlie Kirk didn’t kick me out of a Turning Point event. Basically, she feels like I replaced her. Don’t assume that she’s got this mind and that she’s thinking about the issues, or that she’s really concerned about conservatives. It’s much more high school than that. Girls still have trouble playing in the play yard together, and that’s what that was about. She had issues with me months before Kanye West ever tweeted about me.

What about Ben Shapiro?

He’s wrong about a lot of stuff. He’s actually been wrong about Trump’s presidency, he wrote a whole article about Trump’s Supreme Court picks, he was wrong, wrong, wrong — saying if we elect Trump, he wouldn’t do anything for the Supreme Court. I think he is actually one of the most culturally inept people that I’ve ever met. He cannot read culture. He’s brilliant, and he’s really smart and well read, but when it comes to culture, he doesn’t get it — he completely misses the mark. But Ben Shapiro does a lot for the conservative movement. He speaks on college campuses. I get emails all the time about how “I found you and Ben Shapiro, and you changed my mind.” You can’t knock him for all the good he’s doing for the conservative movement.

I don’t know all the underlying motivations behind their statements. . .

He (Ben Shapiro) hates culture. He doesn’t understand it. It’s the one thing he can’t read a book on.

One of your most repeated talking points is that black Americans are worse off today than they were in the ’40s and ’50s. To me, the problem with this is that you’re discounting the impact of what it was like to be a black American during Jim Crow...

I’m not discounting that. Unemployment rates, economic growth, families being together, black single motherhood, how we’re doing financially in our homes…progress. Regardless of Jim Crow, the black family unit was together, we were outpacing whites in terms of economic growth. We were actually making a name for ourselves, and it all went away when we married ourselves to the government. That’s not to discount Jim Crow.

“Obama is half-black — so everyone stop pretending. He grew up privileged, he’s half black. He did nothing for black Americans, so let’s stop the illusion that Barack Obama was progress for blacks.”

Do you actually believe they were doing better? Black people were treated like second class citizens. They weren’t allowed to sit in the same restaurants, schools, there was segregation…

I always acknowledge that, socially, but we’re on the same playing field now. Stop talking about it. The irony is that black people are so warped that they believe that we’re still fighting for social issues, while we’re losing economic ones.

You don’t believe upward mobility today for black Americans is more possible than it was in the ’40s and ‘50s?

It isn’t. You can look at the numbers. They could be, if black Americans woke up and realized that we’ve married ourselves to the government. There’s that book, Please Stop Helping Us, yeah — stop helping us. We need to wean ourselves off welfare systems; we need to get a real education, the public school system is failing black America, and we need to get fathers back in the home and put the family unit back together which will help defeat the unbelievable crime statistics and the poverty statistics. Everything starts and ends with putting fathers back in the home, while the Democrats strategically worked to remove fathers from the home in the ‘60s.

I think the argument you’re making is that the nuclear family within the black community is worse off today than it was in the ’40s and ’50s, which is also the case with white families, but this is where I struggle with you: when I see the tweet. Even though I understand you, most people won’t read between the lines. Look, we wouldn’t have had a black President in the 1940s, we couldn’t have had a black CEO…

First of all, Obama is half-black — so everyone stop pretending. He grew up privileged, he’s half black. He did nothing for black Americans, so let’s stop the illusion that Barack Obama was progress for blacks. Let’s stop the illusion. OK, how are black people doing in every regard? Worse. Crime statistics, up. Single motherhood rate, up. Economic growth, down in every metric. We’re doing terribly, and yet all black Americans want to talk about are social ones, and we’re doing great. We’re in this restaurant and we’re good.

The War on Poverty was a failure in many ways. I agree with some your criticisms of the welfare state, but today, black Americans have more dignity and they’re no longer second-class citizens. They have more opportunities…

I agree with you. The problem is what you have is that black Americans are warped and they don’t realize all the opportunities are right there and they’re not taking advantage of them. Instead, we’re doing worse off because we’ve been convinced by people that we’re second class citizens, that we need government handouts. We actually don’t need them, we’re here. This is why I wear the “Make America Great Again” hat because I’m American, and all the opportunities that can be afforded me are right there on the table if I’m willing to stop pretending I’m a victim. That is why I say that you need to develop a victor mentality, and not a victim mentality. That’s what I’m talking about. Seize what’s in front of you –society is integrated. We don’t need to be out in the streets screaming and protesting false police brutality statistics. We need to be getting jobs. We need to be getting married before we have children. We need to be making better choices. That’s what the whole movement is about. What if we just made good choices and got ahead?

You wouldn’t say, for example, that black Americans in the South were better off in the ’40s and ’50s than they are today, right? They were being judged on the basis of their skin color and living in a caste system..

My grandpa grew up in the segregated south, and he never talks about race or racism, he never told me that he couldn’t do something because he was black. He got up and worked every single day. That’s it. Doesn’t complain. How is it possible that these spoiled millennial brats who haven’t lived through so much as a World War are suddenly telling you that everything is wrong and that they can’t get ahead? Wanna’ know why? Because they’re spoiled rotten. Because they haven’t lived through anything. That’s the problem; society is run by a bunch of brats. There’s no perspective. The register for pain is all broken because they’ve gone through nothing. Once you go through some shit, you mellow out a bit. Right now, things are good, things are amazing. We should be waking up and skipping out of bed. “Look at these black people and white people eating here in peace, I’m wearing a MAGA hat” But millennials, my generation, are ruining everything. Everything upsets us. There’s that quote that says, “Good times produce weak men, and strong men come out of bad times.” And it’s true, because times are so good, we are seeing a bunch of weak men produced out of society. Everybody needs to be coddled. Trans people need a preamble to constitution written on bathrooms so that they know it’s safe to go in. Why don’t they just put “bathroom”? It has the same goddamn effect. It’s just a bathroom, what is this virtue signaling culture? It’s ruining everything.

I don’t like the idea of doing something purposefully knowing it might make someone feel uncomfortable or fearful. Like, for example, the MAGA hat, which doesn’t bother me, but if I was a Trump supporter, I wouldn’t wear that hat. Whether it’s right or wrong, there are individuals who now view it as a symbol of hate.

Imagine a society where everybody’s feelings determine how society was run. What a terrifying idea. Imagine that I now decide that “I’m With Her” T-shirts make me feel scared, so no one else can wear them? It’s crazy…journalists made up this being a hate symbol. It’s not; it’s support for our President and support for America. Because journalists wrote insane things, and now people can say it scares them is lunacy. We are not going to have a society that operates on a mental disorder. It’s a mental disorder. If you say that you feel threatened that I’m sitting here wearing a hat that supports my President, it doesn’t mean that I have to bend my life to accommodate your mental disorder.

Why do you wear the hat?

I support my President, and I want people to know. It’s like asking why you wear a shirt with an American flag on it. Why do gay people wear shirts with rainbows on them? It’s who I am. Every single day…I’m Candace Owens.

I’ve interviewed a lot of Trump supporters who disagree with my belief that there exists a radical and moderate form of Islam. They don’t seem to see a difference between the two…

I actually would agree with you. I actually lived with a Muslim girl who never stepped foot in a Muslim country, she grew up in Canada. She was a great roommate, she went to Mosque, and I have to agree with you, because I had an experience with a roommate and there’s no way that this girl is ever going to be radicalized. But she grew up in the west.

“If I wanted to be a fraud, I would have done it as a liberal. It would have been so much easier. God, do you know where I could be right now if I said I believe in liberalism and went on speaking tours like Linda Sarsour? I’d be so welcomed; I wouldn’t get yelled at in airports for wearing my hat. The best way to grift is through liberalism. Being a black conservative? Not a good sport.”

You don’t believe there are moderate Muslims in the Middle East, for example, in Iran?

No, because think about how their countries are run: it’s Sharia Law. That means that the way that you learned this isn’t moderate, when you think about Saudi Arabia and Iran. You can’t say that, “Oh I know that they’re stoning people to death and throwing them off buildings,” but I’m a little more moderate. No.

I don’t know the exact number, but I believe Iran’s youth includes one of the highest percentages, or rising percentages of atheists after, I believe, Japan. There are a lot people living under Islamic rule that aren’t being forced to follow the doctrine; some of them are moderates.

They’re not moderate, they want to defect. There’s no such thing as a moderate living in those countries. There’s just not. They are people who want to defect, but they can’t, because they’ll be killed because there’s no moderate form of Islam when it’s practiced in its true form. I don’t believe it’s practiced in its true form in parts of Canada. But talking about the Middle East? No, there’s absolutely no moderate form of Islam. Have you read the Koran?

I have not read it in full.

I’ve read enough of it. It’s an absolutely terrifying book. And people that are trying to correlate Jesus Christ to Muhammad… it’s terrifying. He was a warlord, he raped women, he was a pedophile in his book, which is basically “we will conquer everything.” Non-believers or anyone that tries to convert someone out of Islam can be murdered, and it’s justified, because nonbelievers are allowed be killed. That’s why Fatwas are issued to people who defect.

You’re not, for example, open to immigration from Islamic countries into Europe or the United States?

Open borders and mass immigration? Absolutely not. I don’t believe in the myth of multiculturalism. If your culture believes that women should dressed head to toe, and that not a piece of their skin should be showing or else they’ll be stoned, and my culture believes we can wear a belly shirt and shorts, there’s no way these cultures can converge. In Saudi Arabia, when women go there, they have to be accompanied by men. Males own them. They have to be signed off by a man to leave the country and come in, so you can’t be a person so ignorant to believe that when Muslims become the majority, they won’t vote the rules they believe in into place. People don’t understand, it’s a majority game. Pay attention to the birthrate. France is already gone. There are more mosques in the south of France than churches.

What happens in the United States becomes a Hispanic-majority country one day?

But Hispanic people have the same culture as us. What I mean to say is that if every person in South American floods into America, we would not be debating whether women should show their skin. They’re Catholics…Judeo-Christian.

So you’re not pushing back against multiculturalism, in general, but a specific strain?

The idea that every culture can come together peacefully is wrong, it’s just wrong. It doesn’t work.

But isn’t that what we have in the United States? We have Hispanics, Indians, Koreans — all living peacefully.

What I’m talking about is that if your religion, Islam, believes that you have the right to kill nonbelievers and you become the majority, that is a problem, point blank. Full stop.

I don’t know the exact numbers, but I don’t believe the majority of Muslims interpret Islam to the extreme that states that if you don’t covert, we will kill you…

You should look up the numbers. They’re astounding. Look them up and publish them here. I just read them in a book. The majority of the countries in the Middle East are under Sharia Law.

Wouldn’t it be fair to say that people who are leaving counties in the Middle East are not necessarily in support of that system?

Why would you say that? What makes you think that?

Because they’re leaving those countries? Because they want to have freedom?

No, they’re leaving those countries because they want to have better economic opportunities. Yeah, when someone says there’s open borders and now you can get into a country, and your family can have money, you’re gonna’ flood into that country especially when you come from an impoverished one.

You don’t think there are women who leave Iran, for example, who are trying to escape the system but not their faith?

No, they’re bringing their husbands. So then why are they dressing in head-to-toe garb when they get there? I’m talking about the UK and France. They’re not going there to escape their religion when they’re coming there in head-to-toe garb and building mosques — it’s foolish to even say that. They’re raising their kids to be Muslim and they’re following the strict code of conduct.

“It’s a mental disorder. If you say that you feel threatened that I’m sitting here wearing a hat that supports my President, it doesn’t mean that I have to bend my life to accommodate your mental disorder. That’s genuinely how I feel.”

Washington D.C., August 2018

How did you feel when Kanye West first tweeted about you?

I had gotten to my apartment very late the night before, and I was exhausted. I went down for a nap. When I woke up, strangely, Nigel Farage’s assistant had texted me a screen shot of the tweet and my gut reaction was that it was a joke because I had run into them the week prior in D.C. and talked about Kanye West, so I thought it was quirky British humor where they photoshopped a tweet about the person that I had told them that I admired the most. But something in the back my head told me that this wasn’t a joke. Then I went on my Twitter feed to see if it was real and my hands were shaking. When I saw it, I burst out crying. Which is very unusual, because I never cry.

Why did it make you cry?

Because I knew how significant it was for the black community. I understood exactly what it meant, because the fight to get black people to consider different perspectives is not a political one, it’s a cultural one. Our attention has been seized culturally. We’ve put a lot of our eggs in the basket of Beyonce, Jay Z, and Nas, which comes with the territory of being part of a community where our families have been broken down strategically. And when you don’t have mom and dad together in the home, telling you what’s right or what’s wrong, it becomes culture. It becomes media. You start to idolize people culturally. And since leftists have had a stranglehold on Hollywood and the media, nobody was willing to break free of that. I knew it was going to be an uphill battle. When Kanye West did that it opened it all up, and even before he put on the MAGA hat, the left went nuts. They instantly started smearing me because this was not supposed to happen. Kanye West was not supposed to embrace a conservative.

If I was a conservative activist, and afforded a sit down with Kanye West, I would communicate my agenda and the things I wanted him to get involved in.

No. I already understood Kanye West’s character. You don’t give him an agenda. He will get involved to the extent that he wants to get involved, and by the way, he had just gotten involved in the biggest way possible. He had just handed me a microphone to the black community. Everyone was researching me to find out about my ideas; what is it that Candace Owens thinks?

“No matter how many books you read; you can’t read culture. You’re either literate or dumb. I’m extremely culturally literate.”

Would it not be fair to say that by embracing Kanye, you’re promoting a failure in the black community? The question is whether mega-celebrities like Kanye, Colin Kaepernick, and Jay Z should even be figures that black youth lionize, rather than intellectuals like Thomas Sowell…

Yes, 100-percent, but that’s not the system that’s been created. I actually agree, I would much rather say “Charlie and I want to have a productive dialogue with you guys about Dr. Thomas Sowell,” but unfortunately, that is not who people are getting their information from. They’re getting their information culturally. Donald Trump won a cultural war. He won a social media campaign. Now, you could argue that that’s not how people should win. But this is where we’re at in society. What was it Ben Shapiro said, that we shouldn’t be worshipping celebrities? Calling Kanye crazy — why? Is he crazy because he likes Trump? And you’ve seen him remain consistent. He likes Trump. He’s not campaigning or rapping in front of Trump on the road. Saying that he liked him…we need to reject that? Why?

I won’t speak for Shapiro, but I argue the conservative rejection of Kanye West is due partly to the fact that he’s erratic, emotional, unhinged, and polarizing. How can we tell if this wasn’t just something he did out of boredom? It seems like a bad idea to promote a movement through him.

I never did that. People created this imaginary image of Kanye suddenly campaigning for Trump. He said, a thousand times, “I don’t really know policies. That what I liked about Trump is that he defied all odds and became what everyone told him he couldn’t be.” That’s the story of Kanye West. When the entire world is telling you no, you turn it into a yes. It’s very obvious what he likes about Donald Trump. The majority of people that critique him just don’t understand culture. They’re culturally illiterate. Most of these people are the same people that critiqued Trump when he first arrived. The Never-Trump movement. Trump was a cultural movement. And no matter how many books you read; you can’t read culture. You’re either literate or dumb. I’m extremely culturally literate.

I don’t think he’s going to do that. I think one of my greatest strengths is my cultural literacy. I have followed Kanye’s career. If you listen to Kanye’s music, it makes sense. When he says something, he means it, and when you tell him he can’t, he digs his heels in. “You can’t like Kim Kardashian,” OK, I’m gonna’ marry her and have three kids. “You can’t be in fashion,” I’m gonna’ have the biggest sneaker-fashion brand that there’s ever been. What if he comes out and says he likes, who, a different candidate? He’s welcomes to that. Other people are welcome to that, too. People that follow me don’t have to like Trump. I like Trump, and I appreciate if you don’t love him, that you’re able to have a productive dialogue about him and didn’t say something like he’s “racist misogynist incestuous pig.” Don’t be a robot.

What would you say to Colin Kaepernick if you could speak to him directly?

Hey, Colin Kaepernick, half white guy, who got adopted by an amazing white family who is now sending money to Planned Parenthood, even though your mother kept you, if you are interested in helping the black community, maybe we could talk about actual black issues. Because a black person has a higher chance of being struck by lightning then being shot unarmed by a police officer. If you’re actually going to give your money to help the community, I might be able to direct your funds, Colin.

You’ve said in the past that you believe Jay Z and Beyoncé abandoned the black community. I think they’re just musicians or pop stars and so I don’t take them very seriously.

They’re just pop stars who go on stage and say, “I’d like to introduce you to next President of the United States Hillary Clinton.” Come on, just musicians and pop stars, wearing “I’m With Her” T-shirts a couple days before we’re all supposed to go to the polls? Come on. They were just musicians and pop stars, and then they decided to parlay that into getting a piece of the pie. Having lunch with Barack Obama — you’re at the White House every day. They’re not just musicians and pop stars. They’re people trying to tell people what to think.

Explain to me how they betrayed the black community.

Jay Z built his entire career off the black story. I was the biggest Jay Z fan. I loved him. I would go into my room, and when I wasn’t reading books, I’d put on a Jay Z album and rap all the lyrics to it. He was all about being a victor. “I started out in the projects, selling drugs, now I’m doing this…” And then, he went out and told us to vote for the people that created that environment that he had to fight through. Hillary Clinton? That, to me, I was done. I can’t listen to Jay Z and Beyoncé music anymore. Hillary Clinton, the woman was who was married to the man that locked up more black men than any President in the history of the US with his crime bill in ’94. How could they want him back in the White House? Why? You know what he did. Jay Z and Beyoncé are not like LeBron James. They knew. And look, this is slightly conspiratorial, and more of a feeling, but I think when you start realizing that they were actually appearing less in the public realm and suddenly everything they were doing was with Michelle and Barack Obama, and when they were leaving the White House, they still wanted a piece of the action. And that was Hillary. Obama wanted Hillary to be elected and that was the passing of the torch. And Jay Z and Beyoncé went with that to still have a foot in the White House. But to do that, to me, felt like betrayal. I took that personally. Because I idolized them and I can’t see how they can justify that.

It seems your most vocal critics question the veracity of your conservatism; it seems to be the most consistent criticism of you. Explain how you went from being a liberal, or apolitical, to being a conservative activist.

What gets lost here is that I wasn’t a liberal activist. I just thought I had to be a liberal. I was never politically inclined, period, but if you had asked me I would have said that I was a liberal and a Democrat, just mindlessly, because that’s what I had learned in school, that black people are supposed to be Democrats, and rich white people are Republicans that don’t care about anybody. That’s the sort of sleepy brainwash that happens in our community. I said I was a liberal and a Democrat. I thought I had to be, because my parents were. But we weren’t politically inclined. I didn’t vote for Barack Obama. When I actually started paying attention to politics I went, ‘holy crap, I’m not a liberal at all.’ I’m actually very conservative. My entire journey has been conservative. You show me a black person and I’ll show you someone who’s conservative and doesn’t know it. I didn’t know I was allowed to be a conservative. That’s what the education system does best: by the time you’ve finished high school, you have a sense as a black person that throughout our entire history we’ve somehow been saved by liberals and democrats; that’s just wrong, so it’s a process of reeducation. When I saw the word racism being used, just the amount of times it was being used on CNN, right around election time with Black Lives Matter, it just became very evident to me that this was being used as a theme to turn black people into single issue voters. I grew up listening to hip hop. Trump was loved in the hip hop world before he ran for the presidency. Jay Z rapping about margaritas poolside at Mar-a-Lago. Now they all say he’s a racist? It just didn’t feel real to me. Any person that has known me, the number-one thing that they’ll say about me is that I’m super authentic. I’m allergic to fakeness. It just seems fake to me. Calling him a racist, sexist, misogynist; they even said rapist and incestuous. They were saying he was attracted to his daughter. Wow. All he had to do was say he was running for President and he was now all of that. It doesn’t make sense.

“You show me a black person and I’ll show you someone who’s conservative and doesn’t know it.”

A consistent theme in your rhetoric is that you and other black youth were indoctrinated by the Democrats. But don’t you think that you’re just as susceptible of being indoctrinated by the Republicans?

I don’t get my information from the Republican Party. I’m not a Republican.

What about the conservative movement?

I don’t get my information from them. I’m learning myself. The one thing I say to everyone, if you ever see me speaking publicly to kids, is “don’t look up to me, look up to yourselves.” They cheer. I ask them who their idols are, and then I’ll go around the room and ask them…why? And this is the lesson you learn from Kanye West: You have to be your own biggest fan. He’s telling you who Kanye is. I’m telling you who Candace is. If you’re inspired by me the way I’m inspired by Kanye? Great. But don’t listen to every word I say. You should disagree with me. I love when people tweet at me and disagree.

You’ve said in the past that we are stuck in a “simulation,” which provides a political spin on the standard theory. Explain what you mean by this.

The actual definition of “to simulate” is “to pretend to feel or have an emotion.” If you look up the actual definition of simulation, in many ways, reality can be a simulation depending on what you’re taking in. If you think of your human mind as a computer, whatever you’re taking in becomes your reality. There can be different simulations. If you’re a person who considers themselves a feminist and buys into the idea that women are oppressed, you’re constantly looking for information to confirm your beliefs. Whether they are true or false. Like I said, if I was consuming news, I was only watching or reading CNN. That means that I was buying into a certain simulation that CNN was creating a version of reality where women are oppressed, where Trump is a racist, and the whole world is going to implode if we don’t get him out of office. At any moment, we’re constantly choosing to take in information that further substantiates our reality.

What do you think is the most particularly dangerous simulation plaguing the American people today?

The idea that somehow our President is a threat; that we’re facing a crisis, and that he has to be impeached. That’s a dangerous simulation because people who’ve bought into it are choosing to fight him with violence. We’re seeing real violence because they believe that’s real. And there’s actually no concrete evidence to support that claim. It’s just an emotional simulation.

Do you believe the Trump movement is taking over the Republican Party?

Oh, yeah. It’s a swamp. There were people in the Republican Party and they were working with people in the Democratic Party, and they were all just getting rich on the backs of the American people. There’s not that much of a difference between the Clintons and the Bush’s; they’re establishment families that just passed the torch along to each other and pretended to have different perspective, which was really “we should be rich and the rest of you should be poor.” Then comes this guy who doesn’t need to take money from anybody. That’s what we needed. People were like, “oh he’s a billionaire,” but we needed a billionaire, because he owed no favors. He wasn’t going around like Barack Obama taking money and being told what to do when he was in office. He just completely changed the game.

“Making America Mexico is not diversity.”

Wouldn’t you agree that spending billions on a border wall is a big and potentially wasteful form of government spending?

No, because we’re going to cut government costs that way. When illegal immigrants come over the border, they go on welfare. Do you know how much money it costs us when we have to take care of people who aren’t paying taxes? That is a major problem that we have right now and I’m sick of, “oh, it’s diversity.” No, it’s not diversity. Making America Mexico is not diversity. They’re over 50-percent of the immigrants that we take in. We only take in four-percent of immigrants from Africa. Let’s do a merit-based system. I’m sure there’s tons of people in Zimbabwe and Senegal who’d like to come into America via a merit-based system. Not people who are coming here with their clothes on their backs signing up for welfare. The strategy now is getting pregnant, and we’ll have to take care of you. That’s it. Pop-out one kid and you’re allowed to sign up for welfare. My cousin just tried to get on welfare. She just had a kid, she’s 18, she shouldn’t have had a kid, but she did. When she went to sign up for welfare, she got declined. There’s a wait list. She’s Mexican, by the way, ironically, and she said that there were illegal immigrants on the wait list. There you go. The amount of money we spend on these people is ridiculous. They undercut salaries and wages for particularly black men between the ages of 18 and 21 — low wage workers. It negatively impacts everything, so it’s an extremely conservative position to say build the wall.

We agree that many progressives have abandoned any legitimate form of border security. But where I disagree with the Trump movement is that I feel like the wall is an unrealistic solution to a bigger problem. There are ways to prevent illegal immigration without a wall — which I believe is an unaffordable project. For one, you can discourage illegal immigration by making it harder for illegal immigrants to be employed in the United States…

They’re gonna’ work under the table. They’re going to go mow someone’s lawn. That doesn’t work. They don’t follow the laws. You talk about low wages jobs? There used to be a place in Stamford where all illegal immigrants would stay at. My grandfather would drive there and get them and have them come do yard work around the house and pay them out of pocket. There’s no way to stop that with policy.

Do you believe the pervasiveness of racism in this country is an illusion created by the left?

It’s not a pervasive issue. That’s laughable. Let’s start from the beginning: You cannot defeat racism. That’s a utopian concept. There’s always going to be racists. You look at the history of the world. Within Africa, there’s blacks hating other blacks, depending on what tribe you’re in. In Zimbabwe, they’re hunting down albino blacks and taking their blood to do voodoo. So that’s the first thing. They sold the black community this utopian ideal that you can get rid of racism. And the way you can do that is by voting Democrat. It’s ridiculous. Voting for someone isn’t going to get rid of racism. There’s always going to be mean old people in the world. The question you have to ask yourself is whether racism is preventing me from getting to where I want? Is there a piece of legislation that’s preventing me from doing what I want to do in life? The answer is no. It’s not a pervasive issue because there’s no piece of legislation that’s stopping me from doing what you do. I say the same thing about feminism. So why is this being kept alive? Look at the statistics: 16 unarmed black men were shot in 2016 when this whole Black Lives Matter movement exploded. That’s .00004 percent of blacks shot and killed by black people. It’s insane how much coverage that got. You had a higher chance of being struck by lightning as a black person than being shot and killed by a police officer unarmed. So why do we see it every single night on TV coincidentally around election time? It’s a way to control black people. It’s what you call the “politics of fear.” If I can find out what you’re afraid of, I can keep you away from something I don’t want you to touch. That’s how you control the black vote: racism, racism, racism. . .

In terms of the prison industrial complex and criminal justice, there’s an argument that racism is institutionalized — that the cards are dealt in such a way that it affects the black community in ways it doesn’t the white or Hispanic community, for example.

Interesting. 13-percent of the population is what black people are. We commit over 50-percent of the murders. That’s insane. We’re committing the crimes, and by the way, if you commit the crimes, you have to go to prison. Now if you wanna’ talk about why we’re committing the crimes? The number-one issue facing the black community isn’t racism — it’s father absence. Barack Obama told you the stats: if you grow up without a father in the home, you are 12-times more likely to end up in prison; nine-times more likely to live a life of poverty, and six-times more likely not to graduate high school. It all starts with the breakdown of the family. Nobody wants to talk about that. You want to talk about the magic boogeyman of racism that is stopping you from doing everything. No. These kids lead a life of crime because their families have broken down and they don’t have someone telling them what’s right and what’s wrong.

I want to touch on the War on Drugs, which is where I disagree with you that there isn’t some kind of gaming of the system that puts black men at a disadvantage. For example, white males and black males in terms of drug use are proportionately similar, but far more black men are going to jail.

Why? You’re making it a black and white issue. It’s money and no money. OK. I had a friend who got a DUI in college, her dad paid the judge off. It had nothing to do with her race. If you have money, you can make things go away. That’s economic privilege. That’s real. It’s not white privilege, it’s economic privilege. The black community is impoverished. Why is the black community impoverished? In my personal opinion, it’s because we’ve been incentivized towards bad behavior in our communities via policy, via the welfare system. So again, we’re coming back to the reasons why I’m a conservative. The problem is that people look at the statistics and always try to make it a black and white issue. They look at statistics and say that white people are more likely to get approved for a bank loan than black people, but what they leave out is that Asians are the most likely to get approved. That’s because they have better credit. Nobody talks about Asians. Who are doing the best in this country? Asians.

Why do you believe the black community is struggling to improve their financial and social lot?

Because the family has been broken down. My grandfather did very well. My father didn’t do very well in his life. There’s something that was happening between the ’40s and the ’60s, up until LBJ introduced the Great Society Act and incentivized bad behavior and pretended that this was going to be freedom for the black community. Before that, the black community was actually outpacing whites in the labor force when our families were actually together. But when you incentivize bad behavior, people start acting badly. Nobody wants to have a conversation and wants to pretend that it’s the magic boogeyman, that it’s white people. By the way, black people aren’t the only group that’s been discriminated against in this country. Every other group that was discriminated against got ahead of us. Asian Americans were in internment camps. In the ’70s, there was discrimination against the Japanese. And they’re ahead. Asians are doing the best in this country. When the Irish came into this country with “Irish need not apply,” they got ahead of us. How is this possible? They had communities. They weren’t taking government handouts. You didn’t have Margaret Sanger incentivizing women to get abortions…900 black babies a day. These are all things we need to talk about in the back community, but it doesn’t happen because of the sideshow about racism. It’s not about the color of your skin, it’s about the choices you make. And we have made choices because the government wanted us to make bad decisions. LBJ, on record, was a racist. He was, on record, a member of the KKK. He was, on record, the President that signed into the place all these policies.

LBJ was on the record as a member of the KKK?

Yeah, it was recently in those documents Trump released right when he got into the office (JFK files.) It got no coverage. If you read history, he was one of the greatest Presidents for black people. So you had a man who was a known racist. Literally, the quote is, “I’ll have those n***ers voting Democrat for 200 years,” and we’re voting Democrat.

In fairness to LBJ, though it seems clear he was racist, or racially insensitive, and far more Machiavellian than humanitarian, I don’t believe the claim regarding his membership in the KKK has been substantiated as a fact of any kind. I’d also like to know why, for example, you’ll punch LBJ for his racism and reported ties to the KKK, but haven’t taken a swing at Richard Nixon, a Republican, who initiated the War on Drugs, which has greatly harmed the black community.

So here’s the difference between LBJ and Richard Nixon. First and foremost, if you’re saying that there’s just speculation that LBJ was in the KKK, fine, whatever, take it on a whim, but he referred to the Civil Rights Act as the “n***er bill.” In his response to the “n***er bill,” he came out and said that we had to do something about these “uppity blacks,” all on the record, and he implemented these programs, which we now know as a fact as were a means to make sure that we didn’t get too uppity and that we maintained allegiance to the Democrat Party. We still maintain allegiance to the Democratic Party. That was the Machiavellian scheme that he put together, which I am trying to disrupt. There is one party that has seized the African American attention with false promises of helping us, when in fact it was all put out there to harm us specifically. Now, regarding Richard Nixon, our government does not tell people to do drugs, or go do crack cocaine. If you’re going to argue that the CIA put drugs into our community, if that’s the argument being made, there was still some autonomy. If we took the drugs, it wasn’t because our government said, “hey if you do crack, your life is going to be better.” That’s exactly what was done in terms of the welfare programs. That is my issue with LBJ and The Great Society, and still, to this day, that has not been disrupted. They still pretend that welfare programs are going to help. You have the black caucus that stood when Barack Obama announced more food stamps and sat down when Donald Trump announced the lowest ever black unemployment rate. Now, if we are voting in 90-percent margins for the Republican Party, and the Republican Party was telling us that crack was good, and we were all doing crack? I would have an issue with that. I would attack that.

What are your thoughts on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that LBJ helped push through Congress? That’s an accomplishment that I would think you’d support.

Of course, I support it. It’s a no brainer. I like Civil Rights for black people. I’d like to put that on the record.

Barry Goldwater, the Republican from Arizona, opposed the Civil Rights Act. There were several conservatives who were against the bill.

That’s not true. Republicans were the ones who passed the bill. Every Democrat was against it.

I recently visited the Civil Rights museum in Memphis. I think there were about 30 exhibits. But when I walked towards the Black Power display and saw men like Malcolm X and Eldridge Cleaver being celebrated, I was kind of appalled. How would you react? I think Malcolm X was a despicable person for several reasons, including anti-Semitism, as well as advocating for violence and segregation.

My interpretation of Malcolm X is largely ignorant because it’s based on what I learned in school, where they painted him as a hero. But from what I’m learning, there’s a lot of darkness there. But he did say something that was right, that the Democrats pretended to be our friends, but that they were the ones hurting us.

“If someone comes to your door and wants to grab your children and tar and feather them, I’m sure you’d want to shoot them too.”

Have you ever thought about the impact and the history of the Black Panther movement?

So here’s my take on that. I know people are very split on this, but that was actually a time when cops were racist. When people were putting on hoods and lynching children. They lynched a lot of Republicans too, little known fact. A lot of white Republicans, but they were going around and lynching people, and it rose up from a feeling that we had to fight, because the peace protests weren’t working. And look, if someone comes to your door and wants to grab your children and tar and feather them, I’m sure you’d want to shoot them too.

Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam were advocating for separatism, while you seem to be advocating for assimilation.

One of the criticisms we (Turning Point USA) always get is that what we do is about identity politics. We do our leadership summits, and we break them up into, for example, a woman leadership summit, and we’re doing our first ever young black leadership summit. And it’s not all-black speakers. The point is that we need to invite white people into this conversation. The problem is that it’s been so separate, which is what the media has been telling us. That white people can’t understand what we’re going through. Some white people understand black history better than I do. A part of what we’re doing is trying to break away from political parties, because that is what’s been separating the races. Once you break away and you’re able to be independent, I think we’re more united. I think it’s interesting to see what a white person would say if there were no rules. That’s interesting, because they’re not allowed to. Ben Shapiro can’t say, “Here are 10 things black people need to do…” Could you imagine? But why can’t he? If someone has found success in their life, why don’t you want to hear what they have to say? People are angry about success. They don’t want to hear from successful people. I’m the exact opposite. If you’re more successful than me, I want to know how you got there. They’ve almost stifled the curiosity by saying that people who are successful are evil. That’s Maoist: “Let’s find all the land owners and burn them down!” No. Don’t you want to know how they got here? So that is something that needs to happen immediately, and it’s important that the black community invites people that have more than them. The Jewish community, for example, came from a genocide of six million Jews being executed, to the success that they have today. That’s interesting, you know?

Please explain how you would improve the African American community and their chances of being successful in white America.

First off, stop calling it white America. It’s just America, we were here first. Before the Irish, Italians, Romanians — we were here from 1619. So President Trump says “Make America Great…” I’m like great, I’m an American. I don’t feel like this is white America, but the first thing is putting the family back together. I understand the role that hip-hop plays, but I do agree that we have this very skewed idea of success. When I was in middle-school I used to get made fun of because I spoke proper English. All the black girls hated me. They were all cool with me in elementary school because we weren’t separated by race. It was a big melting pot. But then you take a test to see how smart you are, and suddenly, there’s segregation. I was in an honors group, and that meant my whole class was white. I was no longer with the black girls and they hated me. They were like “she’s acting white,” and I was like no, I’m speaking proper English. They’ve somehow made it cool not to be educated. We’re making fun of people for being successful and saying that our heroes are the ones who are speaking in colloquialisms and sagging their pants.

I think one thing that’s strategically troubling to me is that there seems to be an unwillingness on your part to criticize the President. Where do you feel he’s been ineffective? How would you change his policy or rhetoric?

I was critical of the President when we launched strikes into Syria. I thought it was too fast. We should have waited a couple of days to get more knowledge. I was critical of that. I’m not immune to criticizing the President; I think what you see is me being very vocal about the things that I love that he’s doing. I don’t speak out when I don’t know. But in terms of his rhetoric? I think that transparency was missing, in my opinion, when Obama was in office. We were being sold a bill of lies. But I’m not afraid to criticize the President.

Trump’s immigration policy seems to be the most controversial aspect of his Presidency.

That’s why he won.

What bothers me is the family separation policy. I completely understand that it was an enforcement of Clinton and Obama-era laws, but he began using children as negotiating chips to push through funding for the wall. I always prefer to find ways to avoid chaos, division, and unrest, because ultimately it leads to violence and destabilization. Do you ultimately believe the family separation policy was effective?

The question you have to ask yourself is what are your priorities? My priorities are obviously the black community, so that policy is great because suddenly black people started waving signs and saying “illegal immigrants come first,” so this was great for me, because when I was speaking, I could discuss how everyone was concerned about children at the border when their parents were committing crimes — you know what the risks are when you come into a country and run over the border — but there was no outrage when 71 black people were shot in Chicago. For me, it demonstrates priorities. And this was a liberal priority because it was something that made Trump look bad. And there’s no way to blame the shootings in Chicago on Trump, so nobody talks about it. But first of all, it wasn’t his policy. He put the zero tolerance on it. He enforced it differently. But 70,000 kids were separated at the border under Obama, nobody cared. Nobody cared when Obama was in office. Snap, they care about this suddenly. It demonstrated exactly what I wanted to demonstrate to the black community: that nobody gives a shit about what’s happening to us. You wanna’ talk about family separation? That’s been subsidized in the black community, when you talk about the welfare programs, you subsidize it. Now you want me to care? To be more passionate and scream because it’s happening to illegal immigrants who are actively breaking the law? Seems a little hypocritical to me.

What did you talk about when you met the President? What did you try to accomplish or pitch in your meeting with him?

Telling him how I think he can be the most effective. We talked about the black community. We met one particular week, at the Oval Office, it was prior to the Prison Reform Summit, which is something he’s been doing. Jared (Kushner) has been pushing but Trump has been doing. He just wanted me to talk about that boxer, Jack Johnson, that he had posthumously pardoned, and I didn’t know that much about Jack Johnson. He was very transparent and real, and started telling me the whole story of what happened to him. I listened to him and said that this is something you should continue to do. I talked to him about Alice Johnson. Kim Kardashian had been trying to meet with the President, and he hadn’t taken the meeting. Kim told me that. So I told him that he should hear what she has to say, and that I had just met with her.

You initiated the meeting between Kim Kardashian and President Trump?

Yeah, I told him that she had a point. After meeting with Kanye, I told him that Kim was very passionate about prison reform and was pouring her money into it. The President can get passionate about anything if he hears the whole story. He needed somebody to just tell him to look at the case, but he never really wanted to get caught in the fluff of celebrity land. He’s the opposite of Hillary and Obama in that way. He didn’t run that kind of campaign. Hillary ran a celebrity campaign. I just don’t think he’s interested in it. He wasn’t giving enough attention to what Kim was doing, and when we spoke, I talked about how much prison reform means to me. I grew up seeing my uncles behind bars, all of them were in and out prison their entire lives. It’s something I’m passionate about. It’s something Jared is passionate about. And it’s something the President is now passionate about.

There are those who’ve profited greatly from accusing others of racism. How do you reconcile your disdain for these kinds of figures, while you yourself consistently accuse white liberals of a kind racism and thus mirror the tactics of some of your enemies?

You’re asking if I’m using identity politics to defeat identity politics?

Yes, you’re using tactics you oppose to defeat something you’re against. Is there a level of hypocrisy to that?

The difference is that at the root of what Al Sharpton is doing is a lie. At the root of what I’m doing is the truth. If I’m using the fact that I’m black and that I’m a woman to go into the black community, to speak about things that are actually happening, to lift up the black community? Who cares. If your strategy getting rich by lying like Maxine Waters, screaming out racism where it doesn’t exist, saying that everything Trump says is racist and going out there, while you live in a six-million-dollar home in your district — you’re a liar. You’re a fraud, and I’m going to attack that.

ANTIFA, for example, probably comprises a small percentage of leftism. They’re the extremists. But when you portray white liberals as racist, aren’t you playing the race card? Even if you’re playing it against them, aren’t you perpetuating a bad thing?

I do believe that white people that tell black people they’re not allowed to be conservative are racists. At your core, you may not realize it, and it’s not just ANTIFA, but if the core of your argument is that because of the color of my skin, you know what I must think, that you’re able to look at me decide what I should think, that’s an element of racism to that. Applying traits to somebody based on the color of their skin is the very definition of racism.

What if the left genuinely believes progressivism is more beneficial to the black community?

So, the harmless liberals? I rarely attack them. You don’t see me attacking someone who says welfare is good for the community. When you see me attack Al Sharpton, Maxine Waters, Angela Rye — there’s a reason. They know exactly what they’re doing and they’re getting rich off of it. You don’t see me attacking some random leftist. That’s not who I’m trying to destroy.

“You had a higher chance of being struck by lightning as a black person than being shot and killed by a police officer, unarmed.”

Do you feel there’s a hint of racism in the liberal media’s coverage of you?

Yeah. 100-percent. When you write an article saying that I’m a Nazi sympathizer, that’s an outright lie. Why did you write that outright lie?

Who wrote that?

The Guardian. “Candace is a Nazi sympathizer.” It’s ludicrous. To say Candace Owens is alt-right. To say Candace Owens supports people in the KKK…these are outright lies. Why? Because you decided black people aren’t allowed to be conservative. You made that decision, so you decided to use your pen to smear me so other people won’t hear my ideas. There is something that’s fundamentally off-color about that.

Do you agree with the President when he labels the media the “enemy of the people”?

Yes. 100-percent. When you talk about the division, it’s the media, it’s the media falsely interpreting Trump. It’s the media that ran the aggressive campaign against him when he was going into the White House. In that regard, they have become the enemy of the American people because they’re so interested in taking down Trump that they don’t care that they’re dividing America to accomplish that task. Now, I’m a person that majored in journalism and I have deep respect for journalists that just tell the truth. I really believe in that; we need journalists.

What do you say to BuzzFeed and other media outlets who paint you to be a grifter, or phony, who argue that you’re not really who you say you are and that you’re playing the identity politics game? What do you say them? Do you think they’re perpetuating a racist narrative or just trying to figure out whether your background or motives are legit?

No, no, no. Come on. The viciousness that’s been aimed at me is not because they’re concerned that I’m a grifter. It’s because they’re concerned that I’m effective. Let’s just stop. They’ve gone after my parents, my cousins, my sister, finding my number via T-Mobile. That’s not because they have legitimate concerns. Let’s be serious. The only reason they want to paint me as a fraud is because I’ve gained a following, and it’s happened quickly, and they find that everything that I say destroys what they’ve built. That’s it. What do you say to them? Nothing. They can write articles about me. I don’t care. It hasn’t stopped me. They ultimately shoot themselves in the foot. Dishonest journalism does nothing but actually hurt journalists. I’m a big believer in that.

“We’ve been blurring the lines between someone hitting on you and someone being raped. And that’s scary. I might have a son one day. Is this the society I want to create?”

How have you been more effective than other black conservative activists?

I’m stylistically different. I’m not afraid of the mob. That’s a big thing. I don’t agree with the #MeToo movement. I see all the flaws in #MeToo. I have to take down my post because it makes you uncomfortable. I’m OK with being the first. There’s a silent majority of women who see all the flaws in #MeToo but everyone is afraid to talk about it because it’s such a tricky issue when you’re talking about rape or sexual assault, so it’s easy for people to demonize you. And, by the way, maybe I shouldn’t have done it on Twitter. Maybe I should have done it in a long-form interview explaining why I disagree with #MeToo.

I agree with some of what you have to say about #MeToo, but I think your rhetoric acts like cudgel on social media. You could be more subtle or thoughtful in your criticism.

I agree with that. The one thing I learned is that Condoleezza Rice said what I said. Gayle King said what I said. But they did it in long-form interviews, and I did it on Twitter, which was just stupid. But I was on the go, and it was getting ridiculous to see another story of someone taking down a man.

But there certainly needs to be exposure of Harvey Weinstein-type people.

Right, but what about the story today of the woman who started the movement that turned out to have raped a 17-year-old boy? And that’s what I was trying to say. That we’ve been blurring the lines between someone hitting on you and someone being raped. And that’s scary. I might have a son one day. Is this the society I want to create? Where him making a pass at a woman who would interpret it to ruin his entire life and everything that he’s ever worked for? No. Are women happy with the result of men speaking out and saying they’re afraid to date? The Superman guy came out and said that. Then the mob went after him. Men aren’t even allowed to be a part of the conversation. The number of messages I got from men saying “thank you, thank you, thank you” what’s the end result of this movement? Do you want relations to be better between men and women? Then invite men into the conversation. And if they tell you what they’re worried about, you shouldn’t mob them with pitchforks.

Do you believe there’s a benefit to #MeToo?

I believe that movements that are rooted in victimhood will always be hijacked by the left and used as a political tool. I don’t like movements rooted in victimhood. Movements should be rooted in victor-hood. For example, if you ask me what I think about Alcoholics Anonymous, that’s great. Because it’s about a path to sobriety. And you’re sharing and there’s a movement and it’s about overcoming. Black Lives Matter was about victimhood, and then what happened? It got hijacked and became about hating police. The #MeToo movement got hijacked and became about hating men; getting even with men. “I didn’t like that date, so you’re gonna’ be #MeToo-ed.” Even if it’s proven that the accusations aren’t true, your life is already over.

Revolutions or movements often get hijacked, and most certainly #MeToo has been at least partially hijacked. My only pushback is that you almost refuse to say that there’s a need for it. There’s a grotesque amount of men, and certainly women, who abuse their power.

Power. That’s the key word, power. That’s the conversation people need to have. I worked in private equity. Women sleep with men because they want better career opportunities. Women use their sexuality. It’s biblical. Women use sexuality to get what they want. Women will always be a weakness for men. So that’s a more honest conversation that we can have. Men use their power to get what they want, but did the woman use hers to try to get what she wanted? And that’s what I’m trying to say. What we’re talking about is different from rape. When I grew up and I learned about rape, it was like, you go to a bar, this person puts something in your drink, there was no question that this wasn’t what you wanted, but now we’re in this weird era where you go and meet up with someone in their hotel room and you’re drinking with them, and you’re naked, and now he thinks he can sleep with you.

“Women use their sexuality. It’s biblical. Women use sexuality to get what they want. Women will always be a weakness for men. So that’s a more honest conversation that we can have.”

When Harvey Weinstein invites a young actress into his hotel room, to go over a script, and that leads to him trying to make a pass, if she denies him — he will threaten to destroy her career. What’s the resolution to that sort of trap?

The first thing is if that happens in any circumstance, it’s terrible. There’s no excuse for Harvey Weinstein doing that. I want to make that super clear. But a good conversation we can have as women is to talk about why women feel that going into a hotel room late into the evening with a man one-on-one, because I think there are steps we can take to prevent these things from happening. My gut instinct, if a man ever invites me into his hotel room, and it’s happened before, is that nothing good can happen. This is not where work happens. If you asked me to do a Playboy interview in your hotel room, at 3 AM, there’s a bunch of signs here that you might not want to an interview. But people don’t want to have that conversation because it’s too honest. The damsel in distress thing is problematic for me because we have instincts. Women can sense the red flags of something that might be creepy, and it makes us look like we’re not smart. Something that’s meant to empower women actually makes us look like we have no gut instinct, especially women that say that even if a guy and girl both get blackout drunk and sleep with each other, then women says she was raped, and they arrest the guy the next morning. Whoa. I was in college, and there were girls taking Xanax before we went out and they’d sleep with guy they met at the bar, and they’d regret it and the next morning they’d take the morning after pill. And that stuff happens in college, but nobody talks about it. The idea that a man should be responsible for how much we drink? What, should he carry around a breathalyzer? This is what happens in college. People drink too much. That’s a different conversation. We all know alcohol leads to bad decisions. I don’t partake in it.

What inspired your sobriety?

That’s a good question. It’s a bizarre story, but I was sitting in a hotel room one day last year and felt spiritually that I was done drinking. I’m now pretty vocal about it. I think drinking leads to a lack of confidence, and once you don’t drink, you realize how much the culture of drinking is promoted and pushed on us. I think it leads to anxiety and depression. Now, I’m not a doctor, you’re just asking me about me. But I can tell you that the decision to stop drinking was one of the greatest decisions I’ve made in my life. I feel more confident. I wake up earlier. My thoughts are clearer. I remember feeling the exact opposite when I used to drink; I was tired, stressed and overwhelmed all the time, which immediately dissipated when I stopped drinking. I don’t drink, but I don’t knock people that do. I did drink for many years. I started drinking in high school, I think most people did so I don’t feel too bad saying that, but the last time I remember being super confident like I could do anything was when I didn’t drink. I was hanging out with girlfriends when drinking wasn’t even a thought. Children are really confident and they’re not drinkers, and then something happens when we become adults. I don’t drink because I want to remain confident and focused, and I realize I was falsely diagnosing myself with things like I’m not a morning person; I probably just had a ten-year hangover or something, I don’t know (laughs). I actually quite like mornings.

You’ve been a strong proponent of the argument that there’s a strong political bias in Silicon Valley against conservatives.

First question, why did Alex Jones get banned on the same day from Facebook, Apple, Spotify, and YouTube?

Are you arguing that this was a coordinated effort?

Of course. What are the chances? I would be more comfortable if, for example, he was banned in March by YouTube, and then later by another, but on the same day? That’s incomprehensibly corrupt. Collusion amongst the biggest social media companies like Google is scary. It doesn’t matter how you feel about Alex Jones. The argument that is being made is that he’s a conspiracy theorist. Is CNN not a conspiracy theorist?

I view Jones as a showman, a kind of political Sam Kinison. I don’t take him seriously. But it seems the more polished you’ve gotten as a public person, in a way, you’ve subtly distanced yourself from that realm of political discourse.

What do you mean “that realm?” I was never tied to it. I’ve never watched an episode of InfoWars in my entire life.

But you’ve appeared on it.

Yes. Paul Joseph Watson is on it. I like Paul Joseph Watson. The videos that I’ve watched of his on YouTube, about me. I watched those videos. I also don’t watch Fox News.

You don’t watch Fox News?

No, I watch my appearances, but I don’t need to listen to everybody else’s perspective. I like to form my own. I don’t watch TV. People don’t realize that. I’m more of a reader. I like to watch documentaries. That’s my main thing, watching documentaries that are just basic facts. How many people died during WWII, what are the margins versus civilians? That’s what I like to pay attention to. But first and foremost, I can’t debate somebody about this because I don’t watch InfoWars, that’s that.

So, you appeared on InfoWars without knowing anything about it?

It’s all about getting my voice out there and he has tons of people on there that are YouTubers. Donald Trump was on InfoWars when he was running for election. He has a tremendously big platform whether you like him or not. I was in Israel and someone walked up to and said they had been following me since they saw me on InfoWars.

“Kim Kardashian had been trying to meet with the President, and he hadn’t taken the meeting. Kim told me that. So I told him that he should hear what she has to say, and that I had just met with her.”

The argument proposed by some is that Black Lives Matter is just in their intent, but that their strategy has been wrongheaded in a lot of ways. They’ve normalized, for example, anti-police rhetoric. They’ve made it cool to hate law enforcement. What do you believe BLM has accomplished?

I don’t think they’ve accomplished anything. I think the number one problem of how black people get into these places is emotion. We have to think through emotion. It’s hard for anybody, but we need to pause for second and evaluate a situation absent of emotion. I don’t think they’ve accomplished anything. There’s been rioting. Torching our own neighborhoods. Black people are getting arrested, thereby ruining their own lives. One person dies. How many black lives can we ruin in the process? That’s not how you get anything done. That’s not productive. The anti-police sentiment has been problematic. Police offers save lives and it was all built on a lie: White people are more likely to be shot unarmed by police officers. Hispanic men are more likely to be shot unarmed by police officers. Not black people. Police brutality is a myth. Does it happen? Yes, it does happen. Police officers are human beings and there’s always going to be bad things that happen and they’re never going to be 100-percent accurate. It doesn’t even happen in the medical field. A quarter-of-a-million people die each year because of medical errors, but nobody is boycotting doctors. Mistakes happen. Things go wrong. When I saw that Philando Castile tape, I cried for both sides, because I think that officer really actually thought he was pulling out a gun. Obviously, I mean, why would he want to put his family through that? And receive death threats? You heard it in his voice when he was screaming. And this guy’s bleeding out with his girlfriend in the car. I felt for both sides. But nobody wanted to have productive dialogue. And that’s when it became harmful. Police officers save more black lives, and that’s a fact. They’re eighteen-and-a-half times more likely to be shot by a black man then the other way around. That’s a fact. The movement is absent of facts, and so I disagree with the movement.

“LBJ, on record, was a racist. He was, on record, a member of the KKK. He was, on record, the President that signed into the place all these policies.”

It seems at the core, a lot of the activists in the black community, such as Michael Eric Dyson and yourself, have the same fundamental goal: to make life better for black Americans.

Michael Eric Dyson is a liar. We were on MSNBC. He knows what he’s doing. He understands that he’s lying when he says, “racist, narcissism, and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious…” he’s trying to confuse people. He knows nothing Trump’s done has been racist. He knows that. He knows the Democrats were the KKK. If you consider yourself a civil rights expert, then you should know these facts.

Are you saying the Democratic Party founded the KKK?

I know they did. That’s a fact.

The KKK was not founded by any particular political party. It consisted of former members of the Confederacy, which had ties to some Southern Democrats, but when you say, “the Democrats were the KKK,” while there is some truth to that, it’s a dangerous kind of illusion you’re creating where the current Democratic Party seem like the architects of the KKK, and that today’s Democrat is responsible for this uniquely ugly stain on our history.

Yes and no, but I get what you’re saying, it’s a fair point. It would be like saying the Democrats should be held accountable for ANTIFA today. They should. ANTIFA are out there fighting for what they want and they’re not denouncing them. ANTIFA votes Democrats. They’re out there fighting against anything conservative or Trump. I get your argument, it’s a fair one, but there were no Republicans under the hood of the KKK. They were all Democrats. To my knowledge, there were no Republicans that were a part of the KKK. The KKK rose to fight for what they had lost after the abolition of slavery; the lynching’s that took place were not just blacks being lynched, there were white Republicans. There were no white Democrats lynched by the KKK. I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say that all of them were Democrats. They were lynching white Republicans. The exact number 3,346 black Republicans, and 1,296 white Republicans lynched by the KKK between 1882 and 1968. My research and word of mouth tells me, and speaking to my grandfather, that the Democrats were the KKK. My grandfather grew up with the KKK.

I asked a similar question to Milo Yiannopoulos when I interviewed him for Playboy in 2017, but do you feel like your role is one of self-destructive battering ram who’s kicking down doors to red pill the black community…at all costs?

I’m kicking doors down, but I’m not a martyr. I would like to have a career. I’m not a provocateur.

You don’t think you’re a provocateur? You don’t see yourself as a polemicist, like an Ann Coulter, where you know you’re saying things that are going to cause a ruckus?

But I’m not saying things like “feminism is cancer.” That’s a provocateur, saying that something others believe in is cancer. I’m going to explain to you why feminism has become extremely toxic and how it’s harmful over time. I think a lot more intellectually than people give me credit for.

But when you tweet that you want to throw journalists and Hillary Clinton into jail, you realize that’s not a rational position to take, right?

It was a joke. Jake Tapper retweeted it recently and went back like eight months. Dude, that was literally a joke. It’s funny to picture him in prison with Hillary Clinton. That was literally meant to be a joke. I would never advocate to put journalists in prison. That would be insane. I think that they’re doing a bad job, but I don’t consider myself provocative. I think that’s the truth: that they’re hypocritical. I’m starting conversations that make them feel uncomfortable.

What do you believe was Barack Obama’s greatest contribution to the black community?

My biggest criticism is that I don’t think he inspired change, but the one thing I would credit him with is that he inspired hope. I wouldn’t undo Obama winning the Presidency because of what it meant to the black community. The symbolic nature of him winning the Presidency was significant. I cried when he won.

You made the point that the NRA’s origins were grounded in helping arm the black community.

They did. The NRA helped black people learn how to shoot and arm themselves. That’s just a fact.

Where did you discover this?

It’s just the truth. My grandfather told me this and also Condoleezza Rice did a whole interview about it. It’s just a fact that people don’t want to acknowledge that the NRA did do that.

But you said on Fox & Friends that the NRA was founded in arming black people.

Not, that’s how it was interpreted. It’s not how they began; it was something that they did.

You recently joined the NRA, but unlike other young MAGA conservatives, I don’t see photos of you on Instagram brandishing an AR-15, or packing a pistol in your leggings, or speaking at pro-2A events. Why are you less involved in Second Amendment advocacy?

I was never personally made to be comfortable with guns. I grew up in Connecticut, it really wasn’t a place to go hunting or worry that in the mountains a bear was going to come out back. Even in Yellowstone, they all shoot because they have to because there are bear attacks and moose attacks, and that’s a way of life for them. But my reasons for joining the NRA weren’t to put a gun on my hip and hope you guys would like it. It’s because I’m adamantly against false information, which turns into mob rule and impacts people’s lives who would actually be impacted by it. That is a way of life for people, whether people want to accept it or not. It’s hard for people we grew up with on the coasts to fathom that that is a real way of life. That people go hog and moose hunting, and that there are seasons, and there are competitions and real-life threats. When you get someone like David Hogg deciding how these people should live, the root of that is emotion. People responding emotionally to pass legislation that’s going to impact people’s lives based on an emotion — I’m taking a stance against it. Now, I’m not a fake person, so you’re not gonna’ see me with a handkerchief around my head and gun in my holster, because that’s not how I came up. But would I like to learn how to shoot? Absolutely. Especially now that I receive so many death threats. I think it would be good for me to able to protect myself.

How do you feel today about the experience you had as a senior in high school, when you were bullied and called the N-word?

I take it as a blessing. I remember thinking of it as a curse for a long time, but I think of it as a blessing because it shaped who I am. It showed me that there’s no value in being a victim. It showed me the value of being able to process things rationally, rather than emotionally. And the rational basis of what happened to me in high school was that kids do stupid shit. Technology makes it easy to be mean, and kids are constantly trying to find ways to be mean, and that situation could have been navigated in an entirely different way if people weren’t rushing to label it. Everyone is always looking for the oppressed and the oppressor. We’re obsessed with this storyline. Where there’s a hero and a victim — that needs to stop. There needs to be more critical thinking when these things happen. And in that circumstance, an apology would have sufficed. I don’t know if four people had to be arrested. It wasn’t something I asked for. It wasn’t me that went to the police, and I think that if parents weren’t so afraid of doing the old school “hey my kid did this and he’s a jerk and I’m going to make him apologize,” we could return to a more normal conversation in society and process things better. The way that I processed it was that we were the first generation that had technology. We saw the world go from a beeper to a cell-phone, to text, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. And with that comes a really easy way to be mean to one another. It’s very easy to write something on Twitter, but it’s not easy to call someone a n***er to their face. On Twitter? On the phone? Sure. Children today are afforded the ability to be mean in a way that has never been afforded in the past and they don’t deal with it until it goes too far. That’s why we’re seeing 11-year-olds killing themselves over Snapchat. That is the conversation that should be had as opposed to labeling someone as terrible or horrible, racist, sexist person until they want to commit suicide. And that conversation hasn’t been had nearly enough.

There’s an extremism to what you do. A lot of intellectuals have made the point that the middle is where we need to be as both the right and left collide, as we can’t have an entirely liberal or conservative country.

I agree, but nobody can identify it. What is it that we do that’s extreme? Going on college campuses and talking about free markets and capitalism?

That’s not extreme, but I think when you say things like the Democrat Party is racist, then you’re condemning all Democrats to racism. I don’t think that’s fair. Do you think, for example, that Nancy Pelosi is racist?

Yeah (laughs), probably.

I think they’re just trying to win elections.

OK, no, you’re right. I agree with you and I think that’s a fair point. But I talk about that, that for them, it’s about power and that they’re willing to get power off the backs of black people. You might not be racist, but your results are racist. Do you judge a person by the means or the end result? That’s what I struggle with. If you’re creating unrest in the black community, and you know what you’re doing is dishonest, does that mean you’re a racist? That’s what I struggle with — do the ends justify the means?

Would you agree that the conservatives do the same thing?

No. They don’t use that rhetoric.

You don’t believe the populist rhetoric of Trump was designed to use the white-working class as electoral pawns? For example, when it comes to coal: if you go to former coal-mining towns, even their mayors will talk about the future being in green energy — not coal. Coal is going away, but Trump ran a campaign on bringing back coal-mining jobs. Did he do it because he thought it was a practical view of energy or did he do it to win an election?

Well, that’s not the thing. He actually did it. The Democrats pretend to help the black community but hurt them. Trump says, “I’m gonna’ do this,” and he does it. There’s no deceit. Your question is whether he did it to win an election or because he thought it was better? Philosophically speaking, does Trump help the black community because he cares about the black community, or does he help them because he wants to win the next election and he knows that if he makes their lives better, they’re gonna’ vote for him? My answer to that is that it doesn’t matter. My problem with Democrats is that they campaign on lies, division, and fear.

You don’t think Trump does that?

I don’t think he campaigns on lies. Except he did say he was gonna’ lock her up, and he didn’t (laughs). That’s a big lie!

“My interpretation of Malcolm X is largely ignorant because it’s based on what I learned in school, where they painted him as a hero.”

The Social Autopsy stuff comes up a lot, and one of the reasons I didn’t want to talk about it is that it seems to be the focus of everything that’s been written about you. But I think you agree at this point that it was a mistake?

It never happened. That’s what’s so crazy. That’s why I say it’s madness because it never happened. It was the thing that woke me up. But it never existed. The best analogy is, “hey I’m gonna’ build a big swing for three-year-olds, and it’s gonna’ be great, you’re gonna’ have so much fun.” And then someone says, “If you build that swing, a three-year-old could die.” And then I tear the blueprint. And then someone says, “Stand trial!” Dude, it was an idea.

Your critics argue that you were creating a doxxing platform.

But it was never created. It was a place where you could plug in your email. It was never created, so that’s bizarre to me.

But was doxxing the intent?

No, if you know what happened to me in high school, when those kids got arrested, I did feel like technology was getting to a point where it was allowing people to do things and build a reputation for themselves that wasn’t really fair. It’s easier to be mean from behind a phone. I’m still really passionate about this sort of thing.

How did failure and outrage stemming from the Social Autopsy experiment contribute to your “red pilling”? We’ve established that you never fully executed it, and that your critics claim you were misguided in your intent, but how did it contribute to your political awakening?

When I got the phone call from the person (Zoë Quinn) who was working for Twitter at the time, and she said that she was afraid that I had built a technology that could unmask trolls. I simply had not built that. She misunderstood my Kickstarter video. The threat that was made in her phone call to me was that she was trying to tempt me to kill it by saying that if Trump supporters or #GamerGate people found out, that they would attack me. When I told her “Thanks for the warning, but no thank you,” we went from receiving no threats to receiving thousands in the span of hours, all from, ironically, email addresses that were linked to porn fetish sites like Trump45 — just weird email addresses and the timing was too perfect. By the way, I’ve made this claim many times in public and she’s never come out to dispute my conclusions, which leads me to believe that they’re true. What they were banking on was that I’d get all these threats and that I would turn around and say, “Oh my God Trump supporters are really racist!” But it was too precise. Her phone call, the timing of getting all the threats. It was too precise. It led me to believe that they had something to do with it. Now, can I say with 100-percent certainty that it was her? No. I had a gut feeling and the timing leads me to believe that I’m 100-percent correct, and it led me to question; what would happen if we were able to unmask trolls? That’s a big open-ended question to ask yourself. What if we could see where every tweet was coming from on Twitter? What would we have seen during the 2016 campaign? Would these alleged racist Trump supporters have been working from DNC headquarters? Maybe. Think of it beyond politics. Who’s to say there isn’t an anti-marketing firm that just goes and downgrades and writes mean comments under products that they’re competing with on Amazon? Trolling has allowed for a market that we may have never considered. But the urgency that they wanted to make sure that I could not unmask trolls during this election cycle was alarming to me. It forced me to really reconsider things. There is a stigma to being a victim, but the sense of authority she was presenting as being a victim? The demands? It was very bizarre, and my gut instinct tells me that there was more to the story. And I felt that before I hung up the phone, before I found out what #GamerGate was. She’s not the person being trolled, she’s doing the trolling. Believe me.

What’s the endgame for you? You seem like the kind of person that plans ahead.

The final chapter for me is having a beautiful family. Kids that are happy. Writing. The first thing I fell in love with were books. I’d like to create them. The end goal is to raise and have a beautiful family in an America that is not Venezuela (laughs).

“It’s very easy to write something on Twitter, but it’s not easy to call someone a n***er to their face. On Twitter? On the phone? Sure. Children today are afforded the ability to be mean in a way that has never been afforded in the past and they don’t deal with it until it goes too far.”

art tavana

Written by

“heavy-metal alex p. keaton” — MTV news // former conservative columnist @Playboy & @LAWeekly // authoring a cultural history of guns n’ roses for ecw press.

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