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Oprah Will Not Save Us -- We Have to Save Ourselves

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Oprah Winfrey
Photo Credit: osseous Flickr via Compfight cc

The Golden Globes speech wasn't a campaign announcement; it was a call to arms.

Despite the post-2016 surge of activism—the protests and the calls to Congress that have been the only silver lining in this cesspool of a presidency—the reaction to Oprah Winfrey's acceptance speech at the Golden Globes suggests liberals have yet to give up on their dream of an avenging angel. It was not a campaign announcement; it was a call to arms.

Unfortunately, in this Trumpian age of lowered expectations, when a sane adult gives a rousing speech at an awards ceremony, most people are not inspired to lace up their shoes and do some organizing, as Oprah’s friend President Obama said in his farewell address. Instead of doing the work ourselves, we are inspired to tell a celebrity to run for office.

Oprah is not running, at least according to her best friend Gayle King, who should know, more so than the news anchors, pundits and perhaps even Oprah’s longtime partner Stedman Graham. She was not declaring her own presidential run, nor even a foray into politics. Oprah was doing exactly what she has been doing for the last 30 years: giving her seal of approval, this time for activism.

With the same determined enthusiasm she has used for lavishing her audience with free cars and her book club recipients with massive sales, she recounted seeing Sidney Poitier win a Best Actor award at the 1964 Oscars: "I'd never seen a black man being celebrated like that. I tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door bone-tired from cleaning other people's houses."

She also praised the press, which she “values more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times,” before highlighting the eight activists actresses brought as their dates, including Tarana Burke, the original founder of the #MeToo movement; Ai-jen Poo, the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance; Rosa Clemente, a former Green Party vice-presidential candidate and community organizer fighting for political prisoners, voter engagement and Puerto Rican independence; and Mónica Ramírez, focusing on sexual violence against farmworkers and empowerment for Latinas.

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