Oprah: We Made You and We Can Break You

I don’t often speak about Oprah because to be honest, I have fallen in and out of love with her a multitude of times over the years.  While I appreciate her significance as a WOC, the classist nature of her show can sometimes turn my stomach. 

image For the first time in her career, Oprah decided to embrace a candidate.  Whether or not you agree with her choice, it was still her choice to make.  Each election cycle celebrities declare their allegiances to the different candidates, and the public gives said endorsement the weight that it thinks is necessary in their decision making process.

Barack has graced Oprahs stage twice, and both times were before he declared his candidacy. Since the nomination of Sarah Palin some womens groups are insisting that she be given the opportunity to appear on Oprahs show. They feel that this would allow for balanced representation, even though Barack has not appeared himself since winning the nomination.  The Florida Federation of Republican Women has launched a boycott against Oprah Winfrey’s TV show and magazine because the talk queen has said she will not have Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin on her show until after the election. This is a classic case of bend to our will, or we will break you. 

No other celebrity is being held accountable for their political choices; Oprah is the exception rather than the rule.  Gee I wonder what would make Oprah different from all of the other celebrities that have endorsed either  McCain or Obama? Let me think.  Could it be…no.. it couldn’t be her race could it? When she first endorsed Barack over Hillary, pundits declared that she would alienate her viewership which was largely white women, and now it seems that there is some veracity to their point of view.  As long as Oprah was neutral and not taking an active stake in the political world, the white majority were content to embrace her.   The moment she dared to speak for her own hopes and dreams, suddenly she was the great betrayer of women. 

Why is her voice, or her hopes any less important than that of Melissa Ethridge, or Madonna?  Why is it her body that must bear the brunt of their anger?  There is no call to boycott anyone else, only the backstabbing black Jezebel who dared not to do the bidding of her largely white audience. 

When people say that we reside in a post racial world they are specifically excluding examples like this.  That white women think that they can still bully WOC into performing behaviour to please them, is a signification of the entrenchment of white privilege.  White women have become accustomed to the loving worship of mammy like figures, and to this day still expect WOC to fulfill their every desire, whether or not it is in our best interest.  One day I intend to write a eulogy for Mammy, because now she only lives in the imaginations of those that continue to think that their needs, outweigh the needs of anyone else. Good for you Oprah, I may have to watch now just in spite.

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