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America, Oprah is Not Your Savior

| January 22, 2018

oprah for president

Let Oprah be Oprah. (aphrodite-in-nyc)

By Jessicah Pierre

Oprah Winfrey’s remarkable Golden Globes speech rocked not only the event’s A-list attendees, but almost all of America.

Winfrey cited the under-told story of Recy Taylor, a young black woman who was raped by six armed white men during the Jim Crow era. Despite threats to her life, Taylor reported her story to the NAACP — where Rosa Parks made it her mission to help her find justice.

That justice was never seen, but Oprah ended her speech on an optimistic note. “A new day is on the horizon,” she said. “A lot of magnificent women” and “some pretty phenomenal men” are “fighting hard to make sure that … nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.”

In typical modern fashion, #Oprah2020 began trending on Twitter.

I’m a huge fan of Oprah. But I disagree with the masses who want her to run for president.

Not because she’s a political amateur, but because America has a history of looking to black women to save Americans from themselves — while not providing the proper recognition for their labor or even respect.

John Dean, a White House counsel under Obama, tweeted an endorsement that sums this up: “She could end Trump’s, and the GOP’s, misogyny and racism like no one else!” he predicted, tagging his post #Oprah2020.

But why should the burden of cleaning up Trump’s mess fall on a single black woman?

other-wordsAmerica has always trusted black women to do the work, but it’s always come at the expense of their well-being. This notion goes all the way back to the days of slavery, when enslaved black women were forced to breast-feed their slave master’s babies with their own breast milk. Known as wet-nursing, this exploited the motherhood of black women while forcing them to disregard their own children.

Since then, black women have been at the forefront of social movements in America — dating back at least to Harriet Tubman’s leadership of the Underground Railroad, which helped 100,000 people escape from slavery.

Whether it was the women’s suffrage or civil rights movement, African American women were “the critical mass, the grassroots leaders challenging America to embrace justice and equality for all,” as an exhibit at the Women’s National History Museum puts it.

And when America’s earliest forms of feminism began to unravel, it was Sojourner Truth who inserted what’s now known as intersectionality — recognizing not only gender discrimination but also its overlap with racial discrimination — in her famous poem “Ain’t I A Woman?”

“If we’re serious about having black women lead, we can’t stop at recognizing them..”

The list goes on. Black women like Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Mary Church Terrell fought passionately for women’s voting rights without ever getting the recognition that better known white suffragettes enjoyed.

Even today, the cultural revolution around sexual assault and harassment owes a huge debt to the #MeToo movement founded by Tarana Burke, a black woman who started the movement a decade before it went viral.

And it plays out through our elections. In the Alabama Senate race, 98 percent of black women voted for Doug Jones. They’re the reason he beat Republican Roy Moore, who was widely known for making inappropriate sexual advances on teenage girls.

Many Americans did recognize the black women who kept Moore out of the Senate. That’s good news. But it was still a white former prosecutor they were sending to Washington, who may now shy away from black women to please conservative whites in his deep-red state.

If we’re serious about having black women lead, we can’t stop at recognizing them. We need to empower them both economically and politically.

Over 100 black women are running for state and local offices this year. Giving them the consideration they deserve would say a lot more than simply counting on Oprah — or anyone else — to clean up Trump’s mess alone.

jessicah pierre ipsJessicah Pierre is the inequality media specialist at the Institute for Policy Studies. She previously served as the communications and campaign coordinator for Making Caring Common at the the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and earlier coordinated communications initiatives for the Boston-based Health Care for All campaign and has also worked with activist groups ranging from Community Catalyst to NARAL. In 2016, Pierre founded Queens Company, an organization dedicated to empowering women of color. Reach her by email here.

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22 Responses for “America, Oprah is Not Your Savior”

  1. David S. says:

    Neither is Trump….

  2. Richard says:

    Our only true Savior is our Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone else is just a figment of your imagination.

  3. George says:

    Sadly with this broken two party system, we, the people have little choice in the matter. We only get to vote for who they put in front of us. Would I rather a PHD educated genius than Oprah? Sure. If it comes down to it and it’s battle of the reality TV hosts and it’s Oprah vs. Trump, it’s not my choice, I would pick neither. But if we are FORCED to choose, it’s a no brainer. Oprah 2020. I’d vote a steak sandwich into office over another 4 years of Trump, at least the sandwich isn’t racist.

  4. tulip says:

    Although Oprah is an accomplished woman and has done some good for human kind, I don’t think she qualifies for president. She is used to being the “queen of the universe” and having millions of people adore her. As presidential candidate, she would now have to be subjected to the usual vile things and comments that politicians have to endure. She is not used to that,

    She is used to pretty much getting what she wants and influencing other people. I hope she has seen the light that this is not how it will be as president, that she would have to woo them all and the House, Senate and Congress are a different breed of people than her media audience is. She is better off being a big fish in a small pond, rather than a small fish in the big ocean.

  5. r&r says:

    I never thought Oprah would ever play the race card. Perhaps it’s a lead in to her platform for president.

  6. Johnny says:


  7. Steadfastandloyal says:

    What a bunch of nonsensical dribble, spare us please! Oprah loved Harvey Weinstein, now she’s so much holier..typical hypocrite and the author believes we need a black woman to save us?? Hysterical

  8. Pogo says:

    @Oprah’s sisters and daughters are her – and they are many.

    Bravo for Jessicah Pierre.

  9. fredrick says:

    Well David… what does your comment say for the candidate that the left put up to run against the Trumpster? She fixed things so she would be the nominee, she had the backing of the media, she outspent him by a ton and she still lost. And as long as the economy continues to do well, the liberals will lose more seats and the Trumpster will stay in the oval office. He is not “presidential”, but at this point no one cares….he is getting the stuff done that politicians would never do.

  10. Edith Campins says:

    She would certainly be better than vulgar, rude, incompetent trump.

  11. Mr Chris says:

    When I read the statement “clean up Trumps mess” I stoped reading. I was hoping to get a mature inteligent discussion.

  12. MannyHMo says:

    I was quite impressed with Phil Donahue and I haven’t heard of Oprah before 1986. When she displaced Phil Donahue, I was speechless. I can only say Wow as if a very bright star has landed. I actually felt sorry for Phil Donahue as if he was knocked down. Read about Oprah in Wikipedia, not her successes but her struggles; like fire, it’s what truly test if it’s gold.

  13. gmath55 says:

    Trump’s mess?
    Tax Plan
    Jerusalem Recognized
    Securing Border
    Stock Market
    Terrorist ban
    Trade Deals Getting Fixed
    God Back In The White House
    Liberals Heads Exploding

    Author living in a different world! Hello, it is 2018.

  14. Richard says:

    Winfrey doesn’t have a snowballs chance in Haiti of successfully running and being elected to the office of POTUS. What is HER message to the people as to what SHE can accomplish during her term? Free cars and college? Most likely more of the same from the existing liberal left, garbage. It has now been over one year and what have the dems demonstrated other than being obstructionists in congress to the point where they won’t even vote for ANYTHING. Until lately when they were FORCED into voting with the GOP when the poker faced republicans stood strong on their principles. The left has no governmental principles to stand on and soon they won’t have any seats left in congress if they continue on their suicide path.

  15. woodchuck says:

    Record high stock market?Record low unemployment?Just pass her another baloney sandwich and lets move on.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Oprah. One more very bigoted Black person.

  17. Mike B says:

    Trump would destroy the bigot that is Opra, it would as much fun to watch as the butt kicking he gave Hillary.

  18. hawkeye says:

    I’ll come right out and say it..I don’t like Trump as a person, however he has done quite a few things while in office that I DO like. He definitely has the country headed in the right direction in many ways . I can understand if you are some sort of a liberal, muslim ,illegal alien ,criminal ,freeloader etc you wouldn’t care for him. The bottom line is he is putting America, and Americans, first ,the way it should be!

  19. bob says:

    opra is a new age lost person saying there are many paths to god
    john 14-6 jesus said i am the way the truth and the life no man
    comes to the father except by me. she is a blind lost woman
    who needs the jesus of the bible not some new age guru
    who she supports

  20. RayD says:

    No. She needs to run for local office first. She’s no more qualified to be President than Trump. We need viable, qualified candidates not entertainers. Heard the speech sounded like it came out of a Communications 101 class. Watching the Dotard Trump we can see what happens when a person with no government experience becomes president.

  21. mark101 says:

    Not to worry America, she is not interested “:

    ““I’ve always felt very secure and confident with myself in knowing what I could do and what I could not. And so it’s not something that interests me. I don’t have the DNA for it,” Oprah Winfrey told InStyle for the magazine’s new cover story.

  22. Pogo says:

    @ Fox and Fools/Sludge Report lemmings

    America, Oprah is Not Your Savior: Is “Not” difficult to understand? “…I’m a huge fan of Oprah. But I disagree with the masses who want her to run for president…” ibid for disagree.

    When you demonstrate you read nothing more than one word, Oprah, it explains volumes about you and your world view.

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