The Father, The Son and The Oprah Winfrey

January 31, 2012 ‐ By Charing Ball

"oprah winfrey"

If God was a black woman, I’m pretty sure her name would be Oprah Winfrey.

Yes that Oprah. The all-mighty, powerful former Queen of Daytime Talk, who wants to be loved by all, rewards her faithful flock with a few of her “favorite things” and preached the gospel of life lessons and positive living through her master classes.  Oprah can move mountains, part seas and, with a stamp of her approval, can make any mere mortal into an overnight success. I often wonder what the world be like without Oprah’s watchful eye.  And when times get tough in my own personal life, I fall to my knees, in prayer and ask the heavens: what would Oprah Do?

Of course, I say this in jest but the way I hear some folks talk about the infinite power of Oprah to manipulate and influence change makes me wonder about the false power we assign to entertainers like Winfrey.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t hear or see in some context folks asking, “Why hasn’t Oprah done…?” Usually that question comes up in regards to the lack of financial support for some project or campaign happening within the community. But I have also seen it asked of just about anything including: “If Oprah has so much money, why hasn’t she funded the movies of every black filmmaker in Hollywood?” and “Oprah has her own network, so why doesn’t Oprah hire more Black people?” or “Why hasn’t Oprah did a show on late great jazz legend Phyllis Hyman (no actually that’s a real question)?” and “If there is not enough supermarkets in the Black community, why hasn’t Oprah written a few checks to have them all built?” and “Why hasn’t Oprah waved her magic wand and put a stop to black on black crime yet?” and “What do you mean they’re closing schools in Detroit? You know who could fix that? Oprah.” The list goes on and on.

Yes, there are a million things in the black community, which Winfrey has unceremoniously been given the task to fix. And with a net worth of $2.7 billion, being number 2 on Forbes list of the world’s most powerful women, you can certainly understand the temptation to buy infinite amounts of share in Winfrey’s sway-stock.  However, is it all that fair to think that Winfrey has a moral obligation to reach back a hand to elevate black women and black men and “fix” everything that is wrong within the Black community?

I know that there is much to admire about the woman and truth be told her philanthropic legacy is immeasurable. However if we were to measure it, Oprah’s generosity comes somewhere around $350 million during her lifetime. During her reign as talk show queen, Winfrey created the Oprah’s Angel Network, a charity, which provided grants to nonprofit and charitable organizations around the world. All told, the Angel Network raised upwards of $80 million dollars with 100 percent of funds going to projects like rebuilding efforts in areas ravished by Hurricane Katrina, providing scholarships to 250 African-American men continue or complete their education at Morehouse College, building parks in her homebase of Chicago and providing support for organizations, which work with the poor and AIDS-affected children in Africa. And we can’t forget about the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg, South Africa, which Winfrey invested $40 million of her own money to build.

Likewise, her openhandedness hasn’t stopped at charity; she has used a portion of her “brand” in the cinema arena including producing work from Black Authors such as Gloria Naylor’s Women of Brewster’s Place, Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Wedding, Toni Morrison’s Beloved as well as Spike Lee’s X and Lee Daniel’s Precious.  So it’s not like Oprah doesn’t do what she can to make the world a better place so why isn’t it enough?

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  • mscoco04

    well, you people have put Oprah on high as if she were a God, and well, people tend to ask and want things from their gods…(oh, the irony), but I’m sure this will go over a many a people’s head…lol

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  • MixedUpInVegas

    I agree with Kay.  Oprah made herself what she is.  She doesn’t owe everyone in the Black community every dime she makes.

    There is plenty of room for other community activists to step forward and help lift the people up.  Simply giving money doesn’t solve anything if people aren’t organized to use it in the best community interests.  Expecting successful people to give away the fruits of their own labor smacks of a kind of envy that is unattractive and counterproductive.

  • Kay

    The very idea that Oprah should have to go into her purse every time some cause comes along is ridiculous. Oprah has done so much for WOMEN and people of every color that for us to find fault is ungrateful. 

    What we need is people to figure out how to improve their own situations. We need to figure out how to improve ourselves financially so that we can have more of a say as to what happens to us, because we all know that many federal and state programs are being gutted or becoming more difficult to qualify.

    As soon as the NAACP sets a date, I will be helping to get people registered and making sure that we have a legal ID so that no one can tell us that we can’t vote because we don’t have the correct identification. I intend to get up and help my own community as we all should.

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  • ManOrWoman

    If God was a woman, it would not be Oprah, fornicating with Stedman for 25 years is not favor in God’s eye, so find another person to use, maybe like the late Mother Theresa. By the way she owes the “Black Community” exactly the same as she owe any other community and you can fill in that blank.

  • F3ral Anarchy

    oprah owes the black community in the US nothing.  plain and simple. ive made the same comment about michael jordan also.