I never really watched Oprah, and I think her best roles over the past 25 years were in The Women of Brewster Place and The Color Purple. But seeing as I'm turning 25 this year, Oprah has been that ubiquitous presence throughout my entire life. I'm an Oprah baby.
If you think about it, Oprah is a serious force to be reckoned with. I mean, look, if Oprah went on her last show today and said anything about my blog and let alone posted the url during the credits, I'd have three million page views by tomorrow. I'd probably also get thrown on a no-fly list and be branded an unpatriotic racist, but hey, the Oprah Effect.
In all seriousness, I think Oprah is the ultimate role model for women, especially young Black women trying to find a place in the world. I'm not saying that every little Black girl from Dar es Salaam to Chattanooga to Toronto and back should want to grow up hosting their own talk show, become an entrepreneur, savvy business woman, and finally the richest and most powerful woman in the world (but I don't think that's a bad idea for someone to want to set their sights on as a child or young lady growing up).
She talks about everyone in life having a calling, and after hearing her say it today, I genuinely believe it.
What I am saying is that Oprah did it on her own. She didn't need a husband, fiance, or any man for her to reach her success. She never had a sex tape, nor did she date Sidney Poitier or Bill Cosby. (A Black woman growing up in the South circa the 1950s and 1960s was a very hard thing to do, especially without the support of a male breadwinner.) If I saw Oprah walking down the street without makeup on, I'd be like "damn, she's one ugly ass woman". Shoot, she didn't even marry Stedman. Beyonce says she's an independent woman, but she's hanging off Jay-Z like an STI. I'm just saying.
If Oprah decided to run for president of the US tomorrow, she'd win. If Oprah decided to run up against Harper in the next election, she'd probably win that too.
But the thing I admire most about Oprah is that she has transcended race and colour. You never hear people saying "that Black billionaire talk show host". Man, she even just goes by her first name - Oprah. And she's been doing it for 25 years. And if you thought she was rich and powerful before, she's now got her own network and a whole pile of big names that she's making money off of. She's sitting in the owner's box of society.
Her audience is full of middle class and middle aged White women. She grew up the poor of the poor in Jim Crow Mississippi. She canoodles with the uber rich and famous - Black, White, and everything in between from Tom Cruise to Will Smith. She and Obama are buddies. She can navigate just about any social, cultural, and colour circle around the world.
Whenever I end up having children, especially a daughter, I'm not going to read her fairy tales about a woman who rides a pumpkin and dreams about a prince charming and glass slippers. Or about a fish woman from twenty thousand leagues under the sea that has a bottom feeder sea rat for a best friend. Nor am I going to tell her that she'll get a pink unicorn pony that can talk for her seventh birthday. No.
What I will do is tell her about someone real and someone who made it against all odds. Not only did she play the game and win, but she now owns it. A real woman.
Women, especially Black women, always get the short end of the stick in our society. Always mistreated, and undervalued by men and sometimes even other women. We neglect and abuse our mothers, sisters, girlfriends and wives on a daily basis. Lady Gaga singing about Judas and walking around half naked in meat underwear is not a role model; she's a gimmick and a half baked tool. Hilary Clinton - the most powerful wife in the world - was publicly and globally humiliated by her cheating husband. Shoot, even Michelle Obama, the woman that nurtured the future first Black president of the US, has become nothing more than his photo-op gardener that wears nice dresses.
I always give credit where credit is due, and for what Oprah has done and how she has literally changed the face of US television and society as a whole, I say thank you.