If it weren’t for Oprah…I’d be dead.

If you haven’t read my other Blog “Synful Truth” then you are not aware that if it had not been for Oprah I would never have had the courage to tell my mother that I was sexually abused by the boyfriend of one of her closest friends as a child.

To most people this may not seem like a big deal. For me however? A weaver of words, a person who believed Miss Winfrey when she said we needed to give a voice to the voiceless, to love those who do not know love – one episode of her show changed my life.

I have always wanted to be a writer, from the time I was a child. I guess I have what some might call “Visions” of the future, so far everything I’ve predicted about my life (and even the lives of others) has come true.

I remember standing in the kitchen making dinner one night, my mother was watching Oprah, like she did every day at 4pm for as long as I can remember.

I remember hearing Oprah’s voice and I remember her words “Today we’re going to talk about something very serious. Early Childhood sexual assault.” I remember, I will never forget the way the dish I was washing slipped from my hand.

I will never forget the way I listened silently before moving to the wall between the kitchen and the sitting room and leaning on the wall.

I remember looking at my mother quietly while listening to Queen Latifah and Oprah as they shared stories of early childhood sexual abuse.

I remember thinking if these two strong, beautiful, black, powerful women could survive something we had all been through so could I.

I remember staring at my mother and quietly giving off a cough releasing the words I’d been holding in for more years than I could count. “That happened to me once…”

I wasn’t ready to tell her all of it, but I told her the basics. I told her that he’d touched me while mom and her friend were out for a walk. I remember telling her that was why I’d snuck out of the house at three am and scared mom’s friend to death.

I remember telling her how they’d yelled and screamed at me thinking I’d been kidnapped…I remember not telling my mother that I hadn’t forgotten the way “Brian” had looked at me…smirking as he watched me humiliated and scared not able to say what I’d been dying to say.

I remember feeling “Free” when I finally let the words slip out. When I finally told the truth about that night, I remember and I will never forget feeling “better”.

I also remember how that day was the beginning of the end for me. That was the day that my childhood ended. I was now a part of a not so exclusive club.

I wasn’t alone……but I wasn’t a child any more either.

I want to thank you for that Oprah, because if it hadn’t been for you, for your years of inspiration, of preaching love over hate, I would be dead.

I also need to ask you, what the fuck happened to that woman?

You’re one of the first Black Billionaire females on the planet – not the first, but you are indeed in an exclusive club.

You speak and people listen.

You have more power and influence than the President of the United States of America – let’s be honest, we all know you helped to get Obama elected.

You have the power to change the world – you’ve proven that for more than thirty years.

What the hell were you thinking? Did something happen when your bank account hit 1 billion?

Did you suddenly lose that part of yourself that looks at people and says “Sweetie, you need Jesus”?

What happened to the Friend of Maya Angelou? The woman who made me want to become a writer? The woman who wrote a poem saying “I hope you love” for you.

One of the world’s most important writers wrote YOU a poem, of love, and hope.

You made your money inspiring hope and strength and love and joy. Saving lives everywhere you went, and with one small tiny error you ruined your own legacy.

Oh I’m sure many people – many will make excuses for you-“She didn’t mean it that way” but that’s bullshit.

You’re better than this, I HAVE to believe you are better than this.

I HAVE to believe that the strength you inspired in me isn’t from somewhere false and dark. I have to believe that you are as you say you are, a bringer of light and inspiration.

Isn’t that why you changed the premise of your show? Why you stopped doing shows on racists and cheaters and abusers? Isn’t that why you decided to do a show that inspires people? Those were your words then Oprah, when I was just a little black girl wishing I could be you when I grow up.

So which words are real? Which words are the real Oprah? The one inspiring love and hope in people who want to be you one day? or the one saying that “Racists need to Die” ?”

My friend Hempy tells me you aren’t worth it but you are to me, it matters to me to say these things because I was forced (no seriously we only had the 1 tv I didn’t have a choice) to watch your show every day at 4pm whether I wanted to or not. My mom thought you were a great influence on her children. I was forced to watch you every day and the lessons you taught via your tv show are some that I stand by and that I will teach my children when I’m lucky enough to have them.

These lessons – sharing when you can, being kind at all times, standing up for yourself, being wise and strong….loving our neighbors instead of spreading more hate and fear, YOU taught me this.

I am very much like one of your girls in Africa, looking to YOU for inspiration looking YOU for education and here you are destroying that. It’s an interesting feeling for me.

I don’t usually give a fuck about celebrities, in fact I personally think most celebrities are rather uninteresting – I don’t really care about their private lives or their mistakes, but this one? This one shakes me to my core. Which is why although I’ve already tweeted it I’m also writing you this letter.

I doubt you’ll ever read it, there is probably no way I can get to your castle from my lowly hut with the rest of the rif raff, but I’m putting these words into the universe in the hope that you might read them one day – in the hope that maybe you’ll have a change of heart and realize that no human “deserves to die”.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – Evelyn Beatrice Hall

No my beloved readers, t’was not in fact Voltaire who said those words it was a woman who was writing about him. I have to wonder what some may say about Oprah when she is long gone.

As I told my friend Hempy, I’d much rather be poor and kind, than a rich asshole. I’d much rather be broke and love openly, to everyone, than be rich and mean and selfish and cruel.

I agree that Oprah you have a right to say whatever the hell you want, but as my (former) friend Hunter used to say to me, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

There was a time that White people thought Black people “needed” to die, “needed” to be punished “needed” to be raped, to teach them a lesson.

There was a time when a man made of Orange thought Muslims “needed” to be deported and voters “needed” to be watched to make sure they are registered, there was a time that white supremacy “needed” to have control over people of colo……..oh wait……….that’s still happening.

Racism is not an easy thing to deal with – although I’d admit I haven’t had many with the courage to say it to my face – I’ve seen it in small doses.

The problem however is that the solution to someone hating you for -any- reason should not mean that because someone disagrees with you they they then must “die”.

As Michelle Obama once said Oprah – a close personal friend of yours;

“When they go low, we go high” -Michelle Obama

Maybe I’m mistaken maybe you weren’t hiding this awful person inside all along, maybe you just made a slip, a mistake, that can be forgiven. I hope that’s the truth. I’d hate to think one of the many beautiful strong successful women of color I’ve looked up to for so many years is a fraud. So I’m going to do something I don’t usually do Miss. Winfrey.

I’m going to pray for you. Sounds weird, coming from me but it’s what I’m going to do. I am going to pray that you go back to being the inspiration, the bringer of light and love and hope that I have looked up to for more than twenty years.

“I told them we are now going to become an intentional television show,” Winfrey said. “We are only going to do shows that come from a motivation to show people the best in themselves.”

 

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.
Turn your wounds into wisdom.
Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.
The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.
Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.
Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.
You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.
Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.
Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.”

Those are your words Oprah, words millions of us choose to live by every day. I don’t know what happened or what changed, but I’ll pray for you. Because that’s what we do when we disagree with people spreading hate..we pray for them…Remember?

I will let go. I will breath and let go because I know my heart is filled with love – even for those who dislike me because of the color of my skin. I will love them because like me they are humans doing the best they know how.

I will go out into the world and inspire the hope and strength and love you inspired in me as a child, because that’s all I know how to do in this moment.

While I hope you will apologize and tell the world you were wrong – not that you made a mistake but that you were “wrong” to say that anyone needs to “Die”, I doubt you will.

You’re a billionaire, and the normal rules don’t apply to you right? God bless Oprah, thank you for inspiring me, but I think from here on out I’ll look for someone else to look up to. You just aren’t who I thought you were.

All my love,

Devon

Advertisements