Oprah’s Speech at Howard University’s Graduation

I had to write a response to several people who posted comments about my blog post on Oprah’s speech at Howard University’s Commencement.  These responses claimed that certain things that Oprah said was racist.  Here was my response to these people:

Dmtholly, Linda and Black Wolf:

I am not quite sure what both of you are talking about. Oprah’s message at Howard’s graduation was uplifting and was on point.

Linda you said that:

“The Black Americans are always prejudice against White Americans.”

Your comments are a perfect example of cultural conditioning. That is in this country we are culturally conditioned to believe that white is superior and black is inferior. And the manifestation of this conditioning is that black people are underestimated, undervalued and marginalized.

You see, main stream America has random selected memory when it comes to discussing true American History. Some in this country only talk about the great founders and how they built a Democracy without telling the story of how they built such a great country; off the backs, blood, sweet and tears of black and brown people. But some people in this country, want to omit that from the history books and think that black people should get over it. This is classic cultural conditioning working at its best.

In Oprah’s speech she made two points that talked about race:

“that her grandmother’s dream for her was to one day grow up and get her some good white folks to work for.”


“she regrets that her grandmother did not live past the year 1963 to she that she did grow to have some really good white folks working for her”

“Harriet Tubman said that she could have freed a thousand more slaves if she could only had convinced them that they were slaves.”

She told these stories to make a point. It wasn’t a racist statement. If anything, the fact that her grandmother could only work as a maid for white people only highlights how racist this country has been to black people. She didn’t state that to make white people of today feel bad, it was used to show how we as a people have progressed in spite of mental and physical roadblocks. So if you refuse to understand that then that sounds like a problem you need to deal with.

I will not allow anyone, regardless of what color they are, to undervalue, underestimate or marginalize my existence or the past experiences of black people in this country by not remembering slavery and everything they went through so that I may have a better life.   Oprah understands that and that is why she said what she said. Listen to the whole speech and you will hear that she told those stories to emphasize to the graduates that reason why they were able to attend college and live their lives, was because of the countless sacrifices their ancestors made. 

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5 Responses

  1. Folks should stop hating on Oprah and get their own house in order.

  2. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

  3. You see, Native Son’s response is typical of the black community’s blindness to its own racism. If a white person had said the things Oprah did at even something as out of the way as a private country club, such as, “There is nothing BETTER than to be honored by your OWN”, or in reference to one’s own race, “it is a mighty force”, “Have no fear, GOD’S got YOUR back”, the black community would be screaming for justice within the hour.

    Oprah’s comments were racist, but Native Son seems oblivious to the fact that as a black person, he can’t possibly put himself in a white person’s shoes and understand how Oprah’s attitude reads. Instead of knocking white people for their comments Native Son, why don’t you demonstrate how Oprah’s comments don’t fit the definition of “racism”? They’re a textbook example of “racism”. If you deny that, you’re just being dishonest.

  4. IPOnOprah:

    There is not enough time in a day to exaplin how wrong you are. If you have problem with what Oprah said, write her… If she is racist why do white woman flocked to her show in droves; i guess they are being set up by big bad racist Oprah…..

  5. But we are the victoms of your racism for 400 years
    not the other way around. Be honest about THAT!

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