Oprah Winfrey endorsed Barack Obama in May, and now she’s set to hit the campaign trail with him starting Dec. 8th. I don’t know what this will mean for the Obama campaign, or whether Oprah’s endorsement will actually translate into votes. But I DO know one thing—Oprah’s endorsement has opened up a tricky little debate around the poltics blogosphere.
I read politics blogs like CNN Political Ticker and The New York Times Caucus not only for the posts themselves but also for the comments. Many commenters are outright appalled by Oprah’s endorsement because she’s Black and she’s supporting a Black candidate. Here’s a little comment sampler from today's Ticker post (and for more from a different source, read some of these from the Caucus):
"I'm wondering where was Oprah when all the other Non-Black candidates were running?
"I can tell you this.. If it's BLACK, OPRAH is on any bandwagon."
"Why is Oprah doing this? She tries to prove that she is "black" time and again. Her shows run because of both whites and blacks, but she shamelessly flaunts her blackness. I saw her once at the Academy awards when she was throwing punches in the air when the then winner Jamie Fox said something about "Blacks winning" the award. If a white man does that, he would be immediately castigated by the media. I am all for racial equality, but these days it is become increasingly difficult for me to see who is being racist."
"You know who is making this a racist thing? Obmama, Michelle and Oprah. Plain and simple. I agree with Ms. Ashley Phillips "The question is would she be supporting him if he were white? Wonder what she would say????" Obama is really messing this up. No other way to look at it"
There’s simply too much crap here for me to take on (and I've only posted 4 of 160 and counting mostly negative comments), but just a few notes up front:
1. If “it’s” Black? IT? Barack Obama happens to be a human being, not an inanimate object.
2. What does it mean to flaunt one’s “blackness?” Is this kind of like wearing afros and other “political” hairstyles to work? If I wear bronzer, am I flauting my bronze skin tone?
3. How did “Obmama”, Michelle, and Oprah turn the campaign into a “racist thing?”
Blogs aren’t meant to live in a vacuum; they are designed to initiate conversation. I think that comments dictate the outcome of a blog post. They contain the real substance because they offer a window into popular opinion.
So, it’s really quite painful to see so many voices discredit Oprah Winfrey’s ability to make decisions. She has proven herself as an unmatched businesswoman and entrepreneur. She’s probably got more experience making significant decisions than 99.9% of people in this country.
Having said this, the woman can make any decision she chooses based on any criteria that she sees fit. Other Black candidates have run for President, and Oprah Winfrey did not endorse them. Obviously she would put more thought into an endorsement than the race of the candidate. And even if this is a consideration of hers… well, so what?
This commenter says it best, in my opinion:
"Oprah is allowed to endorse any candidate she wants, but some people writing here seem to think that because she is black she should be ashamed to support a black candidate.
How many white-americans are supporting a white candidate? Try telling any of them that they shouldn't support the candidate of their choice because they share the same race!
They expect someone with her wealth and power to want to avoid such associations with blacks in order to appease their sensibilities. It would be acceptable to them for her to endorse Hillary Clinton but by supporting Obama, just as by her choosing to build a school in South Africa, she is reminding them that she is not ashamed of her race. She is wealthy, intelligent, powerful, and she is African-American and she is PROUD to be.
They want her to seek 'pardon' for being black by constantly seeking their approval and avoiding making THEM feel uncomfortable.
The reality is that many African-American females are NOT supporting Hillary Clinton because they don't feel she is the best candidate, and her gender doesn't sway them to her side."
No matter whose campaign you support, it’s clear that Oprah’s endorsement and presence on the campaign trail has opened up a jarring race debate—one that transcends the typical political playing field. What are your thoughts?
Full CNN Article (not a blog post): http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/11/26/obama.oprah/index.html