Candace Owens Reflects on her SHS Experience

Candace+Owens+in+her+2007+senior+portrait+at+Stamford+High.

Lenna Kouzoujian

Candace Owens in her 2007 senior portrait at Stamford High.

Candace Owens may be the most controversial graduate Stamford High has ever produced.  

From her role as a viral vlogger to a controversial right-wing political activist jetting across the globe with Kanye West, people seem to have widely varying opinions about Owens.

 Owens’s claim to fame began back in 2017 when she posted a Youtube video called “Mom, Dad…I’m a Conservative”. The video is centered around Owen’s “coming out” to her family, and how her family was not very accepting of her political alliance. It eventually went viral, gaining the attention of celebrities like Kanye West, who praised her and tweeted “I love the way Cadance Owens thinks.” Owens instantly rose to fame as a prominent black woman with conservative views. But there is much more to Owens than her controversial political views and tweets.

Owens’s notoriety largely stems from an incident that took place in 2007 involving racial harassment when she was a high school senior at Stamford High. Racist and threatening voicemails were left by four boys, one of whom happened to be one of her close friends and another she later discovered was the son of then Mayor Dan Malloy. At first, Owens says she chose to stay private about the incident. Eventually, though, she decided to confide in her philosophy teacher who encouraged her to tell administration. Although it was difficult for her to come forward, Owens said it was the right thing to do and she feels blessed to have had him as her teacher during the most hectic year of her life. From there, the incident escalated rather quickly, as the police, the NAACP, and even the FBI became involved.

Three Round Table Staffers spoke with prominent conservatie personality (and SHS grad) Candace Owens on April 22. (Sofia Sarak)

According to Owens, she was never actually contacted by anyone for a comment or to tell her story. She explained that the incident caused her to have to “toughen up” at a young age in terms of what people thought about her. It became apparent to the then 17-year-old that “race is a business” – a hard truth for a young girl to face as she quickly became the talk of the city. 

“Race is a motive, and that motive is money and power,” Owens said.

Owens believes that for the newspapers, it was about money and creating profit off of this momentous story. During the time of the incident, Dan Malloy was also campaigning for reelection as Mayor. Owens says she felt that this may have played a role in the coverage of the incident and that the local media “wanted to stoke it and keep it going.” There was a strong media presence, and cameras were always on Owens.  

“Nobody actually cared about me,” Owens said. “They never once spoke to me behind the scenes or after the cameras. For them, it was really about raising money for themselves”. 

According to Owens, she never wanted the students to get arrested, and would have accepted an apology. She says did not want to be labelled as a victim. 

Despite all that she went through with the incident, Owens said that her time at Stamford High School was an overall positive experience, and has “nothing bad to say about Stamford.” 

During her four years she was actively involved in many extracurricular activities, such as the cheerleading team and FBLA. Owens reminisced on a time where she remembers skipping class to hang out at the FBLA store with her boyfriend. She recalled getting caught by her teacher, Mr. White, who was in disbelief that she would skip class just to stay at the school store. Another teacher that Owens spoke fondly about was Matthew Forker, now an administrator. Owens described Forker as “a lovely man who was very understanding of kids growing up.” Owens said that her perspective on Stamford High has not changed since she was a student, but she certainly does not miss high school. 

Owens also offered some advice to current students of SHS. “Work hard and things will fall into place. Don’t lose yourself and don’t feel pressured to go to college,” she said.

Although she has a large social media presence, Owens recognizes the negative effects of the growing influence of technology on society. Ever since the voicemails were left over the phone, she says technology played a large role in the incident and in her life. She feels that it hasn’t allowed children to make healthy mistakes.

“It was kind of a harsh thing to go from, like, your cell phones to suddenly you’re being arrested because you’ve done something,” Owens said. She feels that parents who grew up in age without technology and social media don’t seem to understand these implications since they were allowed to make mistakes. 

“They said everything face to face,” Owens said. “They were allowed to forget being bad people. But right now it’s really dangerous for a kid because most children go through a phase of not being a great human being. It’s kind of part of growing up. You make mistakes. The society right now is not very forgiving of that.” 

Although it eventually fell through, this eventually inspired Owens to create an anti-cyberbullying website to “help kids to just be aware of just how permanent things you do on a phone are.” As a new parent to a 3-month-old boy, Owens has decided that she is going to try to raise her child without technology for as long as possible. “We are very anti-technology in his house for children because I think that it’s not good,” she said. “They are plugging into a virtual reality. It’s like a video game always and everything is a lot easier on the internet. It’s a lot easier to be mean.” 

Since graduating Stamford High in 2007, Owens has accomplished a great deal of her goals and still remains ambitious. Although controversial, nobody can deny that she has pushed through obstacles to become the notable figure that she is today. 

 

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