Oprah Winfrey is an old Black woman from the country, so why do some of you White men feel so compelled to explain to her how racism works as if she didn’t learn that lesson the second she emerged from her mother's womb? Does it White-splaining arouse y’all that much? If so, can’t you dudes find some other way to get off? They have many websites designed to fill this very void.
In yet another now infamous 2013 Oprah interview, the BBC's Will Gompertz asked the media mogul: "Has it ever crossed your mind that some of the treatment of [President] Obama and the challenges he's faced and some of the reporting he's received is because he's an African American?"
Not being an idiot, Oprah rightfully answered: "Has it ever crossed my mind?…Probably it's crossed my mind more times than it's crossed your mind. Just the level of disrespect. When the senator yelled out, 'You're a liar' — remember that? Yeah, I think that there is a level of disrespect for the office that occurs, and that occurs in some cases and maybe even many cases because he's African American."
Then came you guys, thinking, “Heavens to murgatroyd! I must interject my own baseless opinion to save the day.”
Enter conservative radio host Mark Levin, who opined: "Oprah Winfrey has no idea what it's like to live in a country that really is brutally racist… I'm not talking about older people who lived through segregation and those other horrible events, because obviously they do."
Oprah Winfrey was born in 1954, only a few months before the Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs. Board of Education and deemed segregated schools to be unconstitutional. Evidently, in Mark Levin’s mind racism went away by the time Oprah started teething. Let’s go ask Dr. Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers and Malcolm X. I bet they're playing spades down the street in Harlem.
I was born during the Reagan administration. You know, that guy who created the “welfare queen” stereotype. Levin should recall this given he worked for racist Ronnie. Even so, I could have been born three weeks ago and I’d still grow up to be pretty aware of the lingering racism that soils this country. True enough it is no long as intense as it used to be, but there is a pretty ample amount of evidence readily available to prove that racism’s biggest supporters are going above and beyond to keep their ignorance alive.
Which leads me to the next White-splainer, Rush Limbaugh. On his show, the racist blowhard offered a false equivalence while insulting people’s intelligence (ha!). Limbaugh went on to question the existence of racism in America by asking, “If Black people in this country are so mistreated and so disrespected, how in the name of Sam Hill did you happen? There’s a level of disrespect simply because he’s Black, then how Oprah have you managed to become the–at one time–most popular, and certainly wealthiest television personality? How does that happen?”
I suppose Limbaugh had no idea that there has been longstanding criticism that Oprah’s daytime talk show catered to one audience more than the other in an effort to continue mainstream dominance. Oprah only started to cater to Black audiences when her previous core – middle class White women at home – didn’t follow her to OWN. I could go on, say point out that Gloria Steinem was on Oprah but not bell hooks, or highlight the backlash Oprah received from White women after supporting Barack Obama for president versus Hillary Clinton, but what does it matter? He is White, and thus, knows it all!
More White-splainers include another racist, Bill O’Reilly, plus some other nitwits at FOX News. Then there’s Los Angeles Times columnist Jonah Goldberg, who went out of his way to suggest that racism isn’t the root of all of Obama’s poor treatment. Duh, Goldberg, and FYI, Oprah was asked about “some of the treatment” and responded accordingly.
Goldberg writes: “If the man were White, the argument about Obamacare wouldn't change one iota, at least not for conservatives.”
Perhaps, but the tonally that criticism may be framed differently. After all, Dubya hasn’t been subjected to various racially charged language from the opposing political party, now has he? Congratulations, Goldberg: You spent hundreds of words proving Oprah right in an attempt prove her wrong.
And really, this mobilized effort to deny the existence of racism is racism at work.
Black people, notably those of a certain age, don’t need White people to explain what is or is not racism. Oprah understands that quite well already. What you should have done is listened to her. But you know, she’s just a Black woman born in the rural south around the time of the Civil Rights Movement who went on to build a media empire in spite of her aesthetic not being considered the American ideal.
What does she know about racial politics?
Michael Arceneaux is the author of the “The Weekly Read,” where tough love is served with just a touch of shade. Tweet him at @youngsinick.
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