While I have not had the privilege to meet Oprah Winfrey, I love her and most certainly consider her to be a role model. I was in middle school when I first saw her play the iconic role of “Miss Sophia” in the movie adaptation of Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple.” I was in high school when the Oprah Winfrey show became must-see TV in the 1980s, so much so that whenever I went to get a haircut after school at Trends Barbershop in Tallahassee, right after “Guiding Light” went off, Oprah came on as the men in the shop were at rapt attention and debated whatever topic was featured.
Could I have imagined in 1985 or 1988 that within 30 years, Oprah would become a billionaire media mogul and eventually own her OWN television network? No, but as a history buff who features great men and women in Black history in many of my blogs and social media vignettes, I realize that we all have been blessed to watch living history over the past 30 years.
My love for the “O” established, the question of the week is will Oprah run for presisdent in 2020? This question arose after Oprah’s much criticized speech at the Golden Globes this past Sunday, where after accepting the Cecil Demille Award, she launched into an acceptance speech that was part post-modern feminist manifesto, and part teaser for a political campaign.
The sub-question of the week on social and traditional media has been whether Oprah is “qualified” to be President of the United States? (One does not need a law degree to know that Oprah is older than 35 and a natural born American citizen, thus she is “qualified.”)
But the “Oprah is unqualified” critics can be placed in two categories. The first are those who question whether her lack of political experience would make her a similar candidate to Donald Trump. This category of critics is legitimate in my estimation as I, too, wonder whether an inexperienced Democrat would be the best hope after four years of an inexperienced Republican—Donald Trump.
The second category includes the “haters,” those men and women who are quick to point out Oprah’s personal failures through the years as if a woman must be a personally perfect Vestal Virgin to ascend to the White House.
Chief among these critics are the “Hoteps,” the self anointed judges of who is black, what it means to be black, and purveyors of rhetorical shinola that really is prejudiced and misogynistic shit. The Hoteps immediately attacked Oprah for being a “tool” of “The Man” (read patrician white men) who basks in the adulation of white women more than being committed to “the struggle.”
Hoteps and the Black women who mimic this faux “wokeness” took issue with Oprah referring to Recy Taylor during her speech in the same space as she discussed the #MeToo movement. Taylor, for those unaware, is a recently deceased Black woman who was brutally raped by white supremacists who admitted to the act but were never convicted in Alabama in 1944. The Hotepian illogic is that Taylor and any black woman raped by white supremacists during slavery or Jim Crow should not be compared to #MeToo women of all races who are discussing rapes and sexual misconduct by men on the job and at schools.
To the Hoteps, #MeToo is a “white women’s movement” filled with white women who have either lied about being raped or assaulted, or who remained silent to further their careers. To the Hoteps, Oprah, a friend of disgraced men like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, knew or should have known about these and other men’s misconduct and as a Hollywood mogul herself, should be disqualified from being president for failing to use her influence before now.
There is a lot to unpack here but suffice it to say as follows: Hoteps and their amen corners on the Oprah as a “sellout” on racial or gender justice issues are rank misogynists who at their cores, despise professional women regardless of race. To these types, women should be seen and not heard–barefoot and pregnant.
Oprah, while constitutionally qualified, may not survive political vetting and if she does not because she lacks a grasp of political theory (like Trump), so be it. But throughout her career, few Americans of any race have done as much as she has to advance black male education in the United States (Oprah Winfrey scholars at my alma mater, Morehouse College, comes to mind) and in Africa through her academies. Few media moguls have done more to place black artists, writers, actors and professionals of all stripes on display on her shows, in her magazines and in movies that she helped financed or directly financed.
Further, for the Hotepian naysayers who claim that she did not use her platform at the Golden Globes to push against white racism, I remind you of her comments when she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2013, where she said “As long as there are people who still, there’s a whole generation – I say this, you know, I said this, you know, for apartheid South Africa, I said this for my own, you know, community in the South – there are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism, and they just have to die.”
But to be clear, those who say that Oprah’s tying Taylor’s rape to #MeToo was wrong are the types who are rape deniers, period! Had these ones been alive when Taylor was raped, they would have doubted her, too, by saying “she ain’t have no business wearing what she wore,” or “she ain’t have no business being out there in the first place.”
Folks, rape is rape is rape, and harassment is harassment is harassment, and whether the rape or harassment stems from racist white men–or degenerate, women abusing black men–no man,or woman,has a right to automatically scoff at, deny, or discredit any woman or man who chooses to tell their truths. Knowing such, should a qualified Oprah run for president, I have no doubts that Hoteps, their women supporters, and vast numbers of white men and women who question “legitimate” rape or who support notorious molesters like Roy Moore and serial harrasers like Donald Trump will never vote for Oprah. But I, for one, will never let these idiots pretend to dislike her becaise of her politics when the true beef is a dislike of her gender.