Michelle Obama Phillp Agnrew

Bernie’s New Adviser Apologizes to ‘Black Womxn’ for Brutally Mocking Michelle Obama’s Looks

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ new senior adviser apologized Sunday for repeatedly mocking Michelle Obama’s looks when she was first lady.

The insulting tweets by Phillip Agnew resurfaced after Sanders, a Vermont Independent, on Saturday announced the artist and organizer was officially joining his faltering Democratic presidential campaign. Agnew had previously served the campaign as a national surrogate.

“I am excited to welcome Phillip to our team,” Sanders said in a statement. “He is a gifted organizer and one of his generation’s most critical voices on issues of race and inequity. He has and will continue to push me and this movement to deliver on what is owed to Black people who have yet to experience reciprocity in this country.”

Agnew tweeted the announcement, saying: “i’ve joined the campaign as a senior adviser; accepting the challenges & contradictions to my friends & comrades: thank you for the love & accountability.”

MORE: Illinois Supreme Court Shuts Down Smollett’s Attempt to Avoid Charges

In 2009 and 2010, Agnew posted a number of tweets calling Obama unattractive, Fox News reported.

“Random thought while standing in Gas Station: Michelle Obama is an odd looking woman…I’d call her ugly but I don’t want the backlash…” he said in one tweet from October.

In Dec. 10 2009 tweet, Agnew said: “Michelle Obama is just not pretty…I’ve tried to look at her from every angle possible.”

On Jan. 10, 2010, Agnew again “negged” Obama: “#letsbehonest Michelle Obama is NOT an attractive woman. Intelligent, yes. Successful, yes. But pretty? Hell no!!!”

Phillip Agnew says sorry for bashing Michelle Obama

In response to backlash, Agnew on Sunday issued a statement apologizing for his comments about Obama, which have since been deleted. He said he had been 23 years old.

“I am not my tweets from 2009. Still, words have power to heal & to harm and I acknowledge and apologize for when my words harm,” he said in sharing the statement on Twitter. “I’ve spent years speaking life and love into my community but I was wrong and I have to be accountable.”

In the statement itself, Agnew called his tweets about Obama “stupid,” as well as “shallow, careless, sexist, and cruel.” He said he had “typed them as a young, immature and insecure boy.” He said his “justice work” had helped him become “better” and move past his “problematic expressions of masculinity.”

At the same time, though, Agnew suggested he was simply the product of his sexist culture.

“I grew up socialized by false standards of beauty and success,” he said.

“Black boys and men grow steeped in [problematic expressions of masculinity] and – in turn – move with utter disdain and reckless abandon towards womxn in general, and Black womxn in particular. And more, dark-skin Black womxn especially. There’s no excuse for it.”

He concluded: “While my past tweets were decidedly not about blackness nor complexion not black womxn, I took part in a misogynoirist culture that ignorantly objectifies black womxn as a whole. And I take full responsibility for my words and actions. Thank you for holding me accountable.”

However, Agnew made no mention of his past social media posts faulting the United States for the actions of Islamist terrorists and impugning the moral foundations of the country. Those posts remain online.

How to blame America for 9/11

“Tomorrow America remembers the day that she turned on herself, dismantled her constitution, and killed her own citizens in the name of money,” Agnew tweeted on Sept. 10, 2010.

On May 2, 2011, the day U.S. Navy SEALs killed Bin Laden in a raid on his hideout in Pakistan, Agnew questioned the Obama administration’s announcement.

“I don’t believe sh– America, and by default Obama, says. Sorry. We prolly BEEN killed Osama. All choreography. Got no proof; gut feeling,” he tweeted.

On Sept. 11, 2016, Agnew shared a cartoon on Instagram of the burning World Trade Center buildings with two boomerangs labeled “U.S. Interventionist Policy” lodged in them.

He captioned the cartoon: “#neverforget what goes round comes round.”

On June 13, 2016, after the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, Agnew tweeted that “america is hate-founded, hate-legislated, hate-sponsored, hate-endorsed, hate-filled. This country created this.”

He later clarified that he was “not blaming the victims here,” but that “when I say country I mean the people in power/policy, the government.”

MORE: Homeless With Coronavirus Don’t Have Homes to Quarantine Themselves, Activists Warn

“Just clarifying who to blame,” he said. “it isn’t radical islam and it wasn’t those people in the club. It is us. We spread this hate.”

Last February, Agnew advised his Twitter followers to always assume the United States is in the wrong when it comes to foreign policy.

“international issues can be confusing for some,” he said. “a good rule of thumb: if the US is sending ‘humanitarian’ aid…it’s a PR cover for inhumane bullsh*t. If the US has chosen a side…it’s the wrong one. If the US is PUSHING the story…it’s a lie.”

The Sanders campaign and Agnew did not immediately respond to Pluralist’s requests for comment about the posts.

Cover image: Michelle Obama speaks at the Essence Festival in New Orleans on June 29, 2019. (Screen grab)

Follow Us