�The other kids were all into black power,� Oprah told the Tribune
in the mid-1980s. But �I wasn�t a dashiki kind of woman . . . Excellence was
the best deterrent to racism and that became my philosophy.�
Excellence indeed. Few would deny that Oprah Winfrey has
achieved an extraordinary degree of THAT, at least by our society�s warped
standards. Witty, articulate, attractive, beloved by tens of millions, and
fabulously wealthy, she is the �I pulled myself up by my bootstraps� queen of a
vast media empire. Oprah is a living embodiment of the American Dream. What is
perhaps most inspiring to her genuflecting disciples is that Oprah rose to her
stratospheric position of wealth and influence from an impoverished start in a
socioeconomic hierarchy still largely dominated by white males.
Oprah Winfrey ostensibly possesses the mythical Midas Touch,
a generous spirit, deep spiritual wisdom, and, in the eyes of those blinded by
their adoration, the credentials of a saint. Yet despite appearing destined for
canonization, Oprah injects heavy doses of infectious pus into the already
deeply abscessed wound of the American psyche.
How could anyone who�s noted for having said, �Let your
light shine. Shine within you so that it can shine on someone else. Let your
light shine,� have such a pernicious effect on our culture?
Let�s �count the ways . . . with a passion put to use.�
To truly understand the depth of the damage Oprah inflicts
on our society, we need to step outside of our bourgeois indoctrination and see
her for what she truly represents. Manifesting the Horatio Alger Myth on
steroids, Oprah is a wet dream come true for our criminal class of ruling
elites, sometimes referred to as the plutocracy. She provides them with
�irrefutable� and ubiquitous anecdotal evidence which �proves� the idiotic
delusion that America is a meritocracy where everyone has a realistic chance of
getting rich, if they just work hard enough. The reality is that the richest 20
percent of US Americans own over 80 percent of the wealth and the long-term
trend has been toward an ever increasing concentration of treasure into a
smaller number of strong-boxes .
Comfortably administering her dominion from �The Promised
Land,� her 42 acre estate near Santa Barbara, Calif. (which she purchased for a
cool $50 million), Oprah surpassed the $1.5 billion mark in net worth in 2006,
while earning the tidy sum of $260 million. See what happens when you devote
yourself to excellence (and narcissism) instead of �wasting your time� parading
about in a dashiki to pursue �ridiculous� ideals like civil rights and
egalitarianism? Others did that for her. And now Oprah�s very existence proves
that economic inequalities and barriers to upward mobility have been eliminated
for all of us, right?
Well, not exactly. Consider that in the United States �the
average African-American family has about 60 percent of the income as the
average white family. . . . .[and] the average African-American family has only
18 percent of the wealth of the average white family .� Meanwhile, in the
most affluent nation in the world (in which 12 percent of the population is
black), �Saint Oprah� is the only black billionaire and one of only two blacks
to make the Forbes 400.
Despite the innumerable exploitative workings of the
capitalist pyramid scheme, which enable the obscene opulence of Oprah and her
miniscule number of peers (while concurrently damning billions of others to
live in varying degrees of economic misery), she certainly has no qualms. In
fact, she gushes about her unconscionable accumulation of treasures.
From the 4/11/06 People Magazine article, Oprah Winfrey:
Wealth Is 'A Good Thing':
Speaking in Baltimore on Monday at a fundraiser for Beth
Tfiloh Dahan Community School, Winfrey told the audience, "I have lots of
things, like all these Manolo Blahniks. I have all that and I think it's great.
I'm not one of those people like, 'Well, we must renounce ourselves.' No, I
have a closet full of shoes and it's a good thing."
Winfrey, 52, who is reportedly worth more than $1 billion, said she doesn't
feel guilty about her wealth. "I was coming back from Africa on one of my
trips," she said. "I had taken one of my wealthy friends with me. She
said, 'Don't you just feel guilty? Don't you just feel terrible?' I said, 'No,
I don't. I do not know how me being destitute is going to help them.' Then I
said when we got home, 'I'm going home to sleep on my Pratesi sheets right now
and I'll feel good about it.' " .
The Oprah mystique affords her and her fellow members of the
opulent ruling class a potent psychological weapon (which they wield like a
cudgel) to sustain their cultural hegemony, thus perpetuating their virtual
monopoly on the wealth and power of the US. And be it conscious or otherwise,
Oprah has betrayed her own race and class by shilling her core philosophy that
�not only are you responsible for your life, but doing the best at this moment
puts you in the best place for the next moment.� While personal responsibility
is undeniably important and human beings do have the potential to pull
themselves out of difficult circumstances (i.e. abject poverty), for every
Oprah who �makes it,� there are tens of millions, regardless of race, who work
tenaciously and are never able to overcome the tremendous barriers erected by
the ruling class. Yet Ms. Winfrey would have us believe that if she can do it,
anyone can. And if you don�t, just what the hell is wrong with you?
from the significant impediments that face all US Americans (excepting those
who are born into our de facto aristocracy and can rise to the top regardless
of how lazy, depraved, and ignorant they may be -- think George W. Bush), many
blacks face nearly overwhelming structural barriers which keep them mired in
Thanks to the courageous efforts of civil rights activists,
institutionalized and overt racism are fading in the United States. However,
Oprah�s very existence as a black billionaire and the �you can do and be
anything you want if you work hard� pseudo-wisdom she so gleefully dispenses to
the masses would indicate that America�s poor (and its impoverished blacks in
particular) no longer face incredibly long odds as they employ vigorous efforts
to improve their socioeconomic conditions.
Consider this excerpt from Paul Street�s Skipping Past
. . . reflecting
(via e-mail) on a commentary in which liberal New York Times columnist
Bob Herbert argued that inner-city blacks� material poverty reflected their own
poor values and behavior. �There is a need for� a �values discussion�
among �the poorest African-Americans,� my correspondent acknowledges. �But,� he
added: there are three points to add. One is that [the] hypersegregation [of
urban blacks into nearly all-black de-industrialized ghettoes] creates
objective conditions that incentivize (perhaps even require) certain
anti-social behaviors. The second is whether the values evidenced by the
poorest are actually anti-American values. If we consider that the norms of the
protestant work ethic have been devalued in American society � consider
conspicuous consumption, state gambling expansion, frightening
anti-intellectualism, Wall Street's shenanigans, sexual revolution, and that
recreational drug use knows no racial barrier � how different is the
"underclass" from the rest of America? The final point is the
somewhat sad notion that those who have been most disadvantaged by American
society must somehow quickly develop the values and norms necessary to overcome
those disadvantages, to 'function,' concomitant with undertaking political
struggle to dismantle structural barriers. What is more is that if we accept
that the values Herbert holds in high esteem are not reinforced generally
throughout American society, we are absurdly expecting one group of
super-disadvantaged people � without additional assistance and against the
mainstream of American society � to somehow morph into some kind of ubervolk.
�As the great �historical materialist� Karl Marx once wrote,�men make their own
history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under
circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly
encountered, given, and transmitted from the past.�
Hard as it may be for
Oprah and her fellow moneyed elites to fathom, Ronald Reagan�s �welfare queen�
was a pernicious urban legend, and that most people, given an environment
affording them reasonably accessible options, wouldn�t consciously choose to
perpetually wallow in the misery, indignity and self-destruction associated
with chronic and intergenerational
poverty. Not everyone is blessed with exceptional talent, intellect, or drive,
but that doesn�t mean they deserve a life of suffering so that a tiny fraction
of humanity can live as Croesus did.
With the vast numbers of people she influences, Ms. Winfrey
plays an instrumental role in sustaining the false consciousness that keeps us
in the poor and working classes pursuing the one in 20 million dream she
projects, staunchly opposing the creation of viable publicly funded social
uplift programs, and fighting amongst ourselves based in large part upon the
malevolent lie that personal responsibility is the ONLY reason so many blacks
remain �ghettoized,� unemployed, drug-addicted, and imprisoned.
Man the barricades, Ms. Winfrey, here come the �barbarian
hordes� to raid our treasury!
But Oprah didn�t reach her perch atop the capitalist pyramid
as one of its chief apologists simply by virtue of her existence as an
anomalous opulent black woman (portrayed as what could be the �norm� if only
more people subscribed to her �wisdom�). She also plays a very active role in
contributing to the bourgeoisie cause.
A common lever of appeasement employed by our de facto
aristocracy in the United States is to exercise faux benevolence by making
charitable donations. After accumulating shameless affluence through abject
exploitation of the Earth and its sentient beings, they show the masses their
�humanity� by giving a mere fraction of their ill-gotten gains to a pet cause
Oprah is no exception. Despite being known for her
�generosity,� she remains one of the wealthiest people on the planet,
maintaining her sprawling estate in California and, at last count, four other
lavish abodes with high dollar zip codes. Bear in mind that Forbes recently
gauged Oprah�s fortune to be about $1.5 billion.
Meanwhile, her crowning philanthropic achievement is her
Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. This �charitable
act� is cynical and self-serving. Its chief beneficiaries are those with a
strong interest in maintaining the maleficent inequitable distribution of
wealth. Here�s why:
invested $40 million in this school, a mere 2.67 percent of her net worth.
those questioning the use of the word �invested,� this was indeed a shrewd
and calculated investment for Oprah. By �donating� this relatively paltry
sum, she will reap huge dividends in terms of increased popularity,
goodwill, power, and influence. Her Harpo juggernaut will continue to gain
- In a
world where 30,000 children die of starvation each day, Oprah has elected
to build a posh, luxurious academy equipped to educate a mere 152 girls.
Winfrey�s scheme was such an abuse of resources that the South African
government withdrew its support of the project.
- In a
vain quest to �make her childhood right,� Oprah is �rescuing� the poor
black female attendees of her school by providing them with a regal,
lavish existence. Just what the world needs -- 152 more highly educated
elitists who are immersed in the paradigm that the suffering of the many
to ensure the comfort of the few is the �way of the world.�
principal lesson to her �girls�? Looking to her as their example, they
will learn that once they have attained their affluence and power they
will need to ease their conscience and help maintain the social order. The
lesson is that to do so they will simply need to donate a sliver of their
bounty in such a way that it enhances their public image and fulfills
their narcissistic needs.
As we prepare to examine Oprah�s most deleterious effect on
our society, consider the depth and breadth of her impact as characterized by
Vanity Fair: �Oprah Winfrey arguably has more influence on the culture than any
university president, politician, or religious leader, except perhaps the
Biographer Kitty Kelly added, �As a woman, she has wielded
an unprecedented amount of influence over the American culture and psyche . . .
There has been no other person in the 20th century whose convictions and values
have impacted the American public in such a significant way. . . . I see her as
probably the most powerful woman in our society. I think Oprah has influenced
every medium that she's touched.�
Now let�s analyze one of Oprah�s recent and most spiritually
corrosive �contributions� to the fetid cesspool we euphemistically call a
culture in the United States. In February of this year, Ms.Winfrey used her
leviathan media platform to introduce her minions to The Secret, a book that characterizes Christ as a
�prosperity teacher.� Leave it to the high priestess of Mammon to promote a
means to overcome the seemingly irreconcilable contradictions between the
compassionate teachings of Jesus and the avaricious selfishness of capitalism.
Here�s what the Oprah Winfrey Show website had to say about The
Secret: �It's making headlines
around the world -- and buzz just keeps building. Some say it's the secret to
creating the life you truly want -- losing weight, making money, finding love.
See why people everywhere are talking about The Secret.�
James Arthur Ray, whose �credentials� include, � . . . almost
going bankrupt, [which] forced him to focus on the life he truly wanted. Now he
runs a multimillion-dollar corporation dedicated to teaching people how to
create wealth in all areas of their lives," joined forces with Winfrey to
plug The Secret, a book rife
with myriad inane mythologies the ruling class loves to perpetuate.
Again, from Oprah�s website:
According to James, there is scientific evidence to back
up the spiritual practices and laws defined in The Secret. "Science tells us that everything
is energy, and so your thoughts are energy. Your body, your cash, your car --
everything you think is solid, if you put it under a high-powered microscope,
it's just a field of energy and a rate of vibration," he says. "And
so are we. So if you think you're this meat suit running around, you have to
One way to describe this energy is by comparing it radio
waves. "The frequency you give out through your thoughts and your emotions
is what you have a tendency to manifest in your life," Michael says.
"Whether those thoughts and emotions are conscious or unconscious, it
This means that if you are sending out the same negative
energy over and over -- whether thoughts or feelings -- you will attract like
energy back to you. James says that when bad things happen people might ask,
"Oh, God, why me?" "Because it is you," he says .
Forget the immediate insult of James�s barrage of
pseudo-scientific gibberish. People have been using that technique to peddle
their snake oil for years. The core issue here is that in The Secret, James and company are hawking a
particularly toxic brew. Oprah, Secret author Rhonda Byrne, and their
fellow hucksters would have us believe that Tony Robbins or Gandhi would be
equally at home applying The Secret�s �spiritual practices� based on �scientific
evidence� to create the life they �truly want.�
At first blush its obvious remarketing of the shopworn
�philosophies� related to the power of positive thinking seems benign enough,
but thanks to its Oprah�s validation sparking its wild popularity and wide
acceptance, The Secret is significantly reinforcing some very nasty
strands of our cultural DNA, which is no small blessing to the moneyed elites
atop our economic hierarchy.
While to a person who values critical thought and the
pursuit of true meaning in their life, The Secret would serve little
purpose beyond perhaps kindling or toilet paper, future archaeologists may hail
it as a Rosetta Stone to unlock the mysteries of our perverse, mean-spirited,
and jejune society. Byrne was careful to incorporate nearly every revolting
aspect of American culture, including narcissism, self-absorption,
victim-blaming, hubris, consumerism, immediate gratification, acquisitiveness,
Mammon worship, hyper-individuality, selfishness, and an unwavering faith in
any belief that �forces� the world to conform to our desires.
In typical Oprah Book Club fashion, Winfrey�s enthusiastic
endorsement sent the sales of Byrne�s abomination soaring into orbit. Thank
As the abundant evidence indicates, despite her impeccable
image and the ostensibly �positive influence� she has upon the untold millions
who have yet to shatter the intellectual shackles of their acculturation and
indoctrination, Oprah Winfrey is a member of our cynical pecunious ruling class
and acts as a highly effective shill for their agenda.
Forget the good and benevolent image she projects. Oprah
ultimately serves to distract, obfuscate, and lead us into the increasingly
overcrowded cul-de-sac of �fuck thy neighbor; what�s in it for thee� savage
capitalism. As a part of our filthy plutocracy, she is an enemy to the poor and
working class. We need to start viewing her through that lens.
Wealth Divide: The Growing Gap in the United States Between the Rich and the
3. Oprah Winfrey:
Wealth Is 'A Good Thing'
Oprah Winfrey Show: The Secret Is Out
Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed
himself intellectually and spiritually. He is Cyrano's Journal Online's associate editor and publishes Thomas Paine's Corner within Cyrano's.
You can reach him at JMiller@bestcyrano.com.