On the heels of what I am told is one of the most powerful awards acceptance speeches in memory, delivered by Oprah Winfrey for the Cecil B. Demille Award this past weekend at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards, the internet was set ablaze with talk of how she’d set everyone’s soul on fire. See her impactful speech:
Then came an extreme rush of demands for Oprah to run for president.
True to our habits at this point, immediately came the outcry against an Oprah run.
All of a sudden, billionaires in broad strokes can’t run.
I don’t believe this. I don’t believe that the stroke is at all as broad as it’s being made to seem.
Which is funny… because this wouldn’t even be the case without white male imperialism, and by extension, the indoctrination and inculturation of the mythos and standards of American democracy and capitalism. Everyone, particularly us colonized folk, are supposed to strive, assimilate and belong. Even just by simply being in the same environment for so long, we should all expect that we will at some point start to do and believe the same things.
What do I say?
Oprah, run. Everybody suck it up. Equal opportunity, America. White men have sucked at it for hundreds of years. Let a Black woman have a shot at sucking. It’s not like whatever white man ends up there anyway, after all the shade is thrown, is going to be spectacular, anyway. SOMEBODY has to be president. So make sure y’all keep that same energy when majority white men turn up on the ballot. Tell them they can’t run, too. Every single one of them. Sit them right down. The one in office now, too. You’re not going to let them keep on waltzing through the door and then want to shut it as soon as a Black woman steps up to it.
I otherwise have absolutely no opinion on an Oprah run. I don’t care if she runs or doesn’t.
But what I DO care about is this common thread of who is and isn’t allowed to be a gatekeeper… what a gatekeeper can and cannot look like. WHO a gatekeeper can and cannot look like. Which is all extremely interesting in a country where currently, if you are one color you’re an interesting lone gunman, but one color you’re a terrorist. If you’re one color, you’re extended the courtesy of being seen as unhealthy when addicted to mind altering substances with the legislature to support you, while those of other colors still languish in prison due to previous convictions stemming from their past drug abuse. A country where, joy sweeps across the country for marijuana legalization while seldom is the commuting of salacious sentences for Black people currently serving time or with prior arrest records, part of the conversation. If you’re one color you’re an expat, and another color, you’re illegal. No joke… children of immigrants telling other immigrants that there are no seats left at the table now that they have them all.
You’re essentially saying that white men and by extension, white folks, have the monopoly on being terrible. That white men have the acceptable monopoly on being American capitalists. And don’t get me wrong. The economic system of this country is incredibly unfair. It. Is. Horrible. I’m not saying that it’s okay to be terrible, but I am saying that your Black womanness is not what should ban you. From any trappings of Americanness. It’s not suddenly extra wrong or extra unbearable once a Black face is on it. Here we go again with Black people, nay, Black women, being expected to be the conscience of this nation. Everybody else can be terrible but we must keep the moral fiber. Other folks can be mediocre, but we have to be spectacular, lest we get kicked out of the room.
I’m not saying that I want us to be terrible capitalists who take advantage of folks, but I am saying is that we have a right just as much as anyone to “belong” and take part of whatever piece of Americana that exists. Is that not what all of the extrajudicial murders are for? Is that not why so many of us are gunned down in the street, only for the officer to be later found to not have used excessive force? Is that not why the victims and their families are picked apart in media, rather than their murderers? Because they didn’t do this American thing right? Isn’t that what the usual habits of the media as such tell us? That those folks misbehaved and that that is what led to them being less one loved one? And that that’s acceptable. Belonging. Following the rules. Appearing as the standard. So now apparently, we can do all of the right things, and still can’t belong on every level? We can only be the faces of violent crime and poverty? We still can’t be the face of American exceptionalism and capitalism that white men have been able to be and will continue to be able to be?
This is the same exact contradictory, hypocritical racist foolishness that tells us all that we must do and own xyz in order to be full American citizens, doing our part, that drives us past the limits of sanity just to make sure that our hair doesn’t curl a certain way or that our accent doesn’t twang a certain way or that our child doesn’t have a certain name, lest we all be considered ignorant, incompetent or unprofessional.
In her remarks, Oprah spoke to her origins as a “little Black girl,” watching the world happen from the “cheap seats.” Echoing these thoughts, a friend of a friend commented on Facebook yesterday:
Food for thought: A highly successful woman like Oprah Winfrey gives a powerful speech which leads to many calling for her to run for public office. The number of think pieces, facebook posts, and tweets I’ve read questioning her abilities is staggering. Imagine being a regular, schmegular black girl and seeing literally hundreds of people telling one of the most powerful black women alive that she can’t.
But then you wonder why black women question their abilities.
– Mahasin Martinson
What you are essentially doing here, is holding up a stop sign in front of a Black woman, while simultaneously, the fact of the matter is that the majority if not all of the candidates in the next presidential campaign lot will be white men, it is most liable that the next president will be a white man, and it is an absolute fact that the next president of the United States, regardless to who they are or what they look like, will uphold capitalism in all its atrocious glory. Or even in all its hopefulness.
So, it’s an inevitability. A Black woman just isn’t allowed to do it.