Candace Owens and Brandon Tatum Are Not Who They Pretend to Be

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

I recently had a commenter on my Juneteenth article accuse me of attacking political celebrity Candace Owens personally.

Trust me, I can be the snarky mean girl if I wanted to be, and there is plenty of fodder with which to attack her personally. But, I’ve never done that on these pages, and I never will. If I want to write that type of stuff, I’ll go work for Deadline.

What I have attacked and will continue to do, is Conservative, Inc.’s propping Owens up as an authority on Blacks, Black conservatism, and conservatism in general. Owens is so not, and the rants she goes on, mostly via Twitter and her new Daily Wire show, reflect this.

I am not going to belabor all the points that make Owens a so-called conservative heroine with huge feet of clay. Kira Davis did it so well over a year ago in this article, and if you missed it, I recommend you read it. If you read it, then read it again. Here’s a little taste:

What is problematic for me and others like me is that White conservatives (and some Black conservatives) have gleefully thrust Owens into the position of not only speaking for all Black conservatives, but for the Black community.

I have said it in my past writings. the Black community is not a monolith; there are many shades and structures of the Black community, just as with any other community. It is the political Left and Right that wants to reduce the depth and breadth of our contributions to the nation and the world to a monolithic structure. Just as the Black community is not a monolith, neither is Black conservatism. I enjoy listening to viewpoints among the various aspects of Black conservatism the same as I do hearing the viewpoints among legacy conservatism and the new young cons. Why are the differences accepted in one camp, but impossible to conceptualize in another?

What I will focus on is what results from platforming the disingenuous, and we are seeing this disingenuousness in Owens’ behavior of late. What results is a loss of credibility, and a rejection of the concepts on which you are supposed to be an authority. This is bad not just Blacks in general, but for conservatism specifically.

Owens, who proudly paraded around the Trump White House as the founder of BLEXIT (a term she co-opted from another movement), now does not have time to fulfill contractual obligations, and cancels them on a whim. Talk about tacky, Owens canceled this contract to be the keynote speaker at an event, mere weeks before the event was supposed to occur.

Conservative pundit Candace Owens and leaders of the Washington County Republican Party (WCRP) aren’t talking to each other after Owens canceled a speaking engagement for the WCRP’s upcoming Lincoln Day fundraiser.

Owens, the founder of the BLEXIT Foundation and a prominent conservative speaker, was slated to speak at the party’s Lincoln Day dinner this Saturday, according to WCRP chairperson Lesa Sandberg.

They arranged a contract to formalize this agreement after being in contact since February 2020, according to Sandberg. The two sides agreed on the arrangement in February 2021 but on May 25 Owens’ manager Gina Florio sent a message to Sandberg canceling the engagement.

Despite its growth in recent years, St. George, Utah is still more white, than not. So Owens disenfranchised her captive audience: White Republicans and conservatives.

Owens was to fly to the event from her home in Nashville to St. George, Utah. Through Owens’ manager Gina Florio, Owens used the excuse of dealing with a breastfeeding infant and prioritizing her son.

Owens says traveling is tough while being the mother of a breastfeeding infant — her son was born in January — and that flying while trying to breastfeed means she needs to pump for 25 minutes in a small airplane bathroom. Owens says her decision to cancel was about prioritizing her son.

But the article goes on to say that WCRP tried to find a way to accommodate Owens, including direct flights to Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, and shuttling Owens to the event. I’ve taken that trip, and Vegas is less than an hour away from St. George. It’s quite a beautiful and pleasant drive, especially if you’re not the one behind the wheel. So what gives?

Instead, team Owens via Florio, insisted that the only accommodations Owens would accept would be a privately chartered jet directly from her home city in Nashville to St. George. The cost of that type of charter: $30,000.

That’s prima-donna grade level demands befitting a Hollywood celebrity, not a so-called conservative activist.

Jeff Charles has also made his displeasure with Owens known on these pages, and he said it best:

I understand that many people on the right like Owens, and others who also parrot certain talking points about black folks.

I get it.

She’s tough. She’s a fighter. She takes it to the left.

But at what cost? While she is beloved on the right, she is widely reviled by the same people she is telling you she is trying to reach. There is no chance that folks like her can bring about the “Blexit” she promised. And to be clear, she is not rejected because she is a conservative. There are plenty of black conservatives who are accepted by black America, despite political differences.

The fact of the matter is that Black Conservative Inc. cannot lead black folks from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, because their rhetoric signals that they don’t respect, or even like, the people they claim to be trying to reach. You cannot insult people into joining your cause.

You cannot, but Owens does quite often, without any push back from Conservative, Inc., Black or White.

This tweeter, who doesn’t reveal her political leanings, also notices these flaws:

Every tweet today is focused on Juneteenth she’s made. She’s a mess. For somebody who doesn’t care about it she sure seems to be talking about it. All she does is complain but she never offers a solution.

That is supposed to be a hallmark of conservatism: we have better solutions to problems and we can explain why they are better, and how you can implement them into your life to make not only your life, but the world around you, better. But I have never heard Owens offer a solution from her mouth, and I’ve never seen Owens actively engaging with communities other than at her well-paid rallies. But complaining does gets you retweets and talking points on the Conservative, Inc. shows of your choice, and even more pivotal: Gets you a show of your own. Any respect I had for Ben Shapiro disappeared once he pulled Candace Owens into The Daily Wire orbit and gave her a show. We must stop propping Candace up as THE VOICE of Black Conservatives—especially after that cancellation stunt.

If conservatives and the Republican Party really want to change hearts and minds among Blacks (I have my doubts), then they would start promoting other Black voices. Voices that not only like Black people as people, and not just a concept or a convenient talking point, but who will engage with the Black community in order to enact change in the conversation and the political process.

Neither party does this. One party pretends to, with its bright, shiny objects of symbolism like a Juneteenth national holiday. The other party pretends that the Black community has horrible problems and Republicans have the solution. So what do they do? They platform Black people who look good on camera, can rattle off talking points, and who want to be “important”. Instead, they should be promoting the Black conservatives who are already doing important things that are making a difference in the community and beyond. One of these days I’d like to watch Fox, Newsmax, and OANN and see Shemeka Michelle, Felecia Killings, Sonnie Johnson, and Kira Davis as much, if not more, than I see Candace Owens.

Speaking of overexposed, the other Black Conservative, Inc. prop of choice, the Officer Tatum, just exposed his backside again—and as usual, not in a good way.

Tatum was an Arizona police officer for five years, and he’s been dining out on that reputation ever since. Sheriff David Clark was one for 15 years on top of his other years in law enforcement. Bernard Kerik has over 20 years in law enforcement. Whether you care for these men or not, they have the weight of authority because of their experience as trained policemen, and leaders who have also trained other leaders.

I cannot say the same for Tatum. Like Owens, Tatum beclowned himself with the horrible killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and was rightfully called out by the Black community, conservative and otherwise. Now Tatum, who has in the past professed to be a Christian, has spouted off on his YouTube channel that Jesus is not really God, and the Trinity is a concept that is not found in the Bible or Christianity.

The Amazing Lucas does a quick take down (10 minutes) here:

LaTanya Quinn does a deeper dive (22 minutes) here. Both are well worth the view:

If you claim you are trying to represent or reach a certain group of people, 1) know what’s important to those people; and 2) be able to articulate your points to them in a way that doesn’t insult or alienate them. With ignorant statements like the ones Brandon Tatum has made on the record, he has just alienated half of conservatism, because a certain segment of Christians are also conservative in their politics. And many Black conservatives are also Christian! It is the linchpin of Christianity that Jesus is God incarnate, and that Godhead is trinitarian in nature. Father. Son. Holy Spirit: These three are One.

Besides, When does five years as a police officer make you an authority on scripture and on God?

“Catering to the lowest of denominators” not only out of a lack of knowledge about government, but about anything. It’s laughable, except in Conservative, Inc. But Tatum, like Owens, appears to serve a convenient purpose. My hope is that Conscious Black Conservative voices will become so prominent that Tatum, Owens, and the rest of the false props of Conservative, Inc. become less prominent.