Posts Tagged ‘oprah’

I wonder (a child’s poem on education in America)

September 20, 2010

I wonder what my world would be

If you could just see me as I see me

If you could just greet me with a smile even though you think I’m hostile

If you could not assume that I’m doomed for life’s prisons and trials

You may see a smile that would light up your room

You may see I’m as precious as any child in your room

If you could see why we may not see eye to eye

And meet me half-way so I’m not that child left behind

Maybe just maybe we will make some progress

If you just looked at me as a scholar and nothing less

I hunger for education but my teachers have me fasting

I’m just looking for your love and a little understanding

A manly perspective on Oprah’s “Live Your Best Life Weekend”

May 10, 2010

So I signed up to attend Oprah’s “Live Your Best Life Weekend” back in March. My desire to be in the great presence of not only Oprah & Gayle, but Suze Orman, Donna Brazile, Dr. Oz and others was just too much to resist! It was so hard to resist that I forgot to ask myself until the week of the event: “Are men even allowed at this thing?” As I got closer to the date, I called the Oprah team to ask this question and got no response. I decided the day of the event that I’m just going to drive the 4 hours and hope I don’t get turned away! It was truly ridiculous for me to think that.

It was foolish of me to think there would be a problem because of course there wasn’t. The volunteers treated me like family but there was still one problem: I was only one of about 20 men out of 6,000 people! As Oprah came out I wondered if she was going to make us feel uncomfortable. She looked around and said: “I see some men in here. I don’t know how you got in here.” We all burst out in laughter and then she said how happy she was that we came and that we’ll get some cool points with our significant other. With that said, all nervousness disappeared and I was given permission to enjoy the weekend and just be free.

I returned back to Washington, DC with my life’s purpose solidified. At the end of the day, dreams know no gender. We all laugh in the same language. We all cry in the same language. We all have hopes, fears, aspirations, concerns. We all hunger our hope and nightmare our dreams unnecessarily. I found myself at times being amazed that someone who came from her background (some of it horrific) could create this. Then I had my own “Aha” moment. As the crowd was being wooed by Donna Brazile and others, I said in my head “I want to help as many other people as possible feel this good.” Whether I would make any money doing it did not enter my head. That’s how I knew my life’s purpose was solidified for it was Farrah Gray who said that when you find what you would do for free in a world that didn’t need money, you have found your career.

Oprah said that the key to happiness is helping as many other people get happy as possible. This past weekend was a reminder that, as Willie Jolley says, we can all turn our trials into our testimonies, our obstacles into our opportunities, our problems into our possibilities, and that we can take our mess and turn it into our message. I thank Oprah and O Magazine for creating the space that allowed us to see that we all can live our best life, if we just choose to.

When preparation meets opportunity: a lesson from the Oprah Show

March 22, 2010

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending Oprah Winfrey’s After Oscar Party show taping in Hollywood. It was truly a magnificent experience to be able to sit in the presence of greatness and soak some of it in. Like many people there, I couldn’t help but hope that somehow the camera would glance by me or I could meet her on the way to stage! I was ready for anything! Unfortunately, there were two people who were not ready for such an opportunity.

During the preshow, the Oprah producers began calling people up to share their comedic skills. Imagine being called up to share your talent on the Oprah Show on the same stage where the Oscars took place the night before! The word “historic” is an understatement. The first person they called up took stage to wild applause. Let’s call him Mike. Mike grabbed that mic like a man on a mission. The mission then turned to mission impossible! Mike choked! He had nothing to say. At one point he even said: “Wow, this is my moment in the spotlight and I’m really at a loss for words.” He ended with a “joke”: “What do you call two nuns who jog? Roman Catholics.” He was done.

The second woman professed to be a standup comedian but once the mic was placed in her face, she quickly revealed that she only does comic routines in front of her mirror and her toddler children. She bombed completely, even asking the audience at one point: “Do you think I’m funny?” You can imagine the audience response. My sister Shaumba and I felt bad on one side for the two people who weren’t ready, but we were also kicking ourselves because we WERE ready! My sister is a dancer and had she been called, folks would’ve thought they were at an Alvin Ailey Show. Had I been blessed to have been called to share some of my motivational work, I would have done my best to bring the house down or better yet, lift it up! Ever since I met Dr. Maya Angelou and she asked me if I had any of my products to take with me and I said “No”, I vowed to be ever-ready from then on!

The moral of the story is that you have to be ready because you never know when your number will be called and be ready! They say luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Lucille Ball of “I Love Lucy” fame said “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” You have to work hard and be ready. In this age of multimedia everything, you never know when the camera will be turned on you. If you’re serious about what you do, you will make sure that you never miss your opportunity. If you are serious about mastering what you do, you will make your OWN opportunity! Step out of your head and step into your greatness!

Are all successful black people in the Illuminati?

January 20, 2010

Are claims about Jay-Z being in the Illuminati just an excuse for unsuccessful people to not pursue their own greatness? Isn’t it like saying “he got to this level because of a sworn pact. I won’t sell myself to the devil…thus i will be destined to be where i’m at.”

I don’t hear successful people arguing about this and I don’t hear rumors about guys like Canibus being in the Illuminati given that he’s not as successful. Why does every successful black person have to be in a secret society?

I am one of them

November 1, 2009

Post speaks about how the book “Say you’re one of them” resonated with me as a Congolese and also living, working, or performing in 9 other African countries, including Benin. Having worked in Congolese refugee camps, meeting family members who died on the same day I met them, I had great reason to stay depressed. The perseverance and hope of the people I met and fell in love with taught me the importance of believing in the possibility of a better tomorrow. This book not only speaks to the real plight of many of us on the continent. It also speaks to the hope and perseverance of the African child in particular. These are lessons and stories we should all learn from and hold dear. Lastly, it’s a reminder that we must always stay active in the lives of our children not only locally but globally as well.

Oprah! Hate of the term “nigga” is NOT generational!

September 25, 2009

This is in response to a conversation Jay-Z & Oprah had about the word “nigga” (or “N-word”) on her show.

While I am fans of both Jay-Z and Oprah, I am so sick of people saying the “N-word” is generational. I’m 33. I’m a rapper , motivational speaker, and diversity educator. Most of my black friends hate the n-word and none of my non-black friends use it. Furthermore, most of the teens I speak to across the country are still uncomfortable with it. To say it’s generational is a cop out. As much as I really love Oprah, I’ve noticed that, even though she disagrees with the “n-word” in rap, all the rappers she has ever had on the show still use the term. Will Smith was there as an actor so I don’t count that. It’s easy to believe that my generation has embraced the term because no one wants to give us positive rappers a shot in the spotlight. We can’t get record deals, and can’t get on shows from Oprah to O’Reilly, etc. We’re making music kids can listen to, but most of us are balancing making music versus working a 9-5, living with our parents even though we have our own families, and some have given up on being positive and have gone back to selling drugs to get by.

I believe the whole movement for clean music was a lie. Us clean, non-“n-word” using artists are alive and kicking but you’d never know it when you turn on the radio or TV. We have been the ones practicing what Oprah has preached and we have been staunch defenders of Oprah in her hip-hop wars. I feel like it was all in vein. Don’t know if we’ve lost yet, but we’re definitely losing. All we want is a shot, and I don’t mean with a gun.

Why I’m boycotting the KFC coupons

May 17, 2009

Did you get your Kentucky Grilled Chicken? Are you one of the 10,000,000 downloaders of the Oprah coupon? Were you just so happy that KFC could actually use the word “chicken” in their advertisements again and just had to support them? While the country was going crazy over KFC, I found myself being more disappointed at Oprah’s gesture than content with her latest endeavor in helping those in need. While I believe her intentions were genuine, her efforts will ultimately contradict her message of living your best life.

Let me be clear. I know that there were many families in America who benefitted from the coupons because of our economic state. Anyone who is in a predicament where food is scarce has to do what she has to do. This article is not about that group of people who are the people I know Oprah was intending to assist. Based on the e-mails I received, however, most people were just looking for a free meal. Friends of mine with jobs and of means would end their e-mails saying “I’m off to get my free KFC.” The problem that is occurring is that an entire new group and generation of people are being turned on to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Going to KFC is not going to a Panera Bread or Whole Foods. The side orders at KFC are greasy fries and oily biscuits made with deadly transfats and partially hydrogenated oils, as well as red-40 flavored baked beans. This is tantamount to being given a free coupon for orange juice but having to redeem the coupon at a liquor store. Winfrey should have partnered up with a healthier food company such as a Panera Bread, Boston Market, or Whole Foods. The first critique that I will hear from this is that “poor people don’t shop at those expensive stores.” I counter that by stating that many people who we label as poor are actually only poor in the choices they make, not their income.

I grew up poor in Boston. Poor to me meant having on occasion no hot water, no electricity, living in a rat-infested home, covering up my stove with blankets to keep warm in the winter, wearing the same clothes daily, having a near-empty fridge, and using food stamps. Today, however, many of those we call poor have cell phones, ipods, PlayStations, fancy clothes, big screen TVs, and fancy cars. I remember once walking into the home of a woman living on Section 8 and she had a wall-to-wall big screen TV that stood taller than me. Are these people poor or making poor choices?

Again, I am not talking about those who are living like I lived. Back in my poorer days, I would have used Oprah’s coupons in a heartbeat. The group I am talking about could get to a Whole Foods or Panera Bread if they wanted to. They could choose healthier options even at the McDonalds and Burger Kings they dine in. the issue that we must deal with is the poverty mentality that exists across so many of our communities. Our new president and his family have been helping to set a new standard of fitness, healthy eating and exercise. Though most of us won’t have the ability to plant an organic garden in our backyard (if we have one), we can slowly begin to make changes in many of our daily practices that lead us to a downward spiral spiritually, physically, and economically. My hope is that those who are exploiting the KFC coupons will be drawn more over time to Oprah’s “Best Life” philosophy as opposed to KFCs worst life menu.

Black Male Musicians: Cowards on the Chris Brown/Rihanna Drama

March 16, 2009

All over television and radio, I hear and see female celebrities from Oprah and Tyra Banks to Robin Givens and Free expressing either support for Rihanna or at least warning her of the potential danger of staying with Chris Brown. It has indeed been quite impressive to see people like Oprah and Tyra sharing the stage and talking to young people about domestic violence, particularly since the media often speaks of those two as being competitors. If this was indeed the case, they’ve come together for an important cause. While women, particularly Black female entertainers have stood up for Rihanna, the unequivocal support of Chris Brown from Black male musicians has been downright disgraceful and cowardly.

From P. Diddy and Akon to Usher and Suge Knight, Black male musicians have either showed 1000% (no typo) support for Brown, or have backtracked on any critiques they may have given to Brown’s post alleged assault activities. Said Suge Knight:


Chris Brown is a lil’ homie…I got more love for Chris Brown than anybody. One of the things Chris Brown did before at the time my daughter was turning 14 years old, it was her birthday, and they were having a concert. He put her on stage, sang happy birthday, he didn’t have to, showed a lot of respect and I respect him for that. So therefore, I’ma ride with him a thousand percent on whatever it is, period.


Hey Suge, he didn’t have to nearly kill Rihanna either! Maybe this isn’t a surprise for someone who just pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery against his girlfriend in February. As long as you sing to Suge Knight’s daughter, you can go ahead and allegedly nearly kill someone.

            Snoop Dogg offered to have Brown and Rihanna on his variety show “Dogg After Dark” to talk about their relationship. In a great gesture towards healing their situation, he jokingly offered to also have Dr. Phil or Dr. Dre on his show to talk about it. Singer Akon said he would “absolutely” work with Brown because he doesn’t mix business with personal lives. He could have at least said he would work with him if he got help but not even that. P. Diddy offered his home for them to come work it out, when the most important thing they need right now is distance. They both threw out the obligatory “no one should hit women” but after that, it’s just business as usual. It’s sad when people who haven’t demonstrated high regard for women themselves throughout their career now know what’s best for Rihanana.

            Singer Usher has also proven to be most disappointing on this case. Usher criticized Chris Brown for going out on a jet ski while at Diddy’s house with Rihanna. Miraculously, Usher later apologized for criticizing Brown! Usher stated that he apologized “if anyone was offended. The intentions were not to pass judgment and we meant no harm. I respect and wish the best for all parties involved.” So basically the black male community of musicians has taken a hands-off approach to Chris Brown.

            To be fair to these artists, most men in the public eye have taken a hands-off approach to Brown, with the exception of Roland Martin, who had a panel of Black males talking about this on CNN, though no musicians. Michael Baisden and Warren Ballentine has always spoken about domestic violence so this wasn’t new for him. Overall though, if there were no females in the media like Oprah, Ellen, and Campbell Brown, I fear that this story would no longer be in the news. My main issue is personal for me because I have spent time and money listening to many of these artists. While I was proud to see many of them get involved in politics for the first time with Hurricane Katrina and then the election, there was no real risk in supporting President Obama. Taking a hard stand against domestic violence can indeed be career-ending.

            Black male musicians for the most part have yet to demonstrate the ability to take a prolonged stand on serious political and community issues. The Rihanna-Brown situation is a classic opportunity for these artists to step up to the plate and they are not evening picking up the bat. As we continue to follow this story, all of us who have been fans of many of these artists (including myself), should really become more mindful of who we listen to, particularly if we work with or have kids. With serious issues like domestic violence occurring and no one taking a stand, we can no longer have the philosophy that we can listen to whomever because “it’s just entertainment.” For me, it’s a matter of life and death.

How Could Oprah Open A School In Africa???!!!

February 13, 2009

January 2, 2007

Actually, the school is in South Africa. It’s a country. It’s in Africa, the continent. Oprah can open the school in South Africa because she can do whatever the hell she wants to. If there is one person in America who has deserved the right to not be questioned for her humanitarian deeds, it is Oprah. Why she has not yet received a Nobel is beyond me. Whether you agree with her politics or guests, you cannot deny that the world is a better place because Oprah was born.

Let’s look at the facts. In Oprah’s press conference on the opening of her Leadership Academy, she responded to critics as to why the school was opened in South Africa and not the U.S. She stated simply that in many inner city schools, many students are more concerned with getting IPODS and sneakers as opposed to South African students who were more concerned with getting school uniforms and school supplies. This happens to be 100% true (not: I said “many students,” not “all”). I work in American inner city schools and have traveled to schools extensively in South Africa and can validate her testimony.

Moreover, to question why Oprah would put up $40 million for a school on soil other than America is ludicrous. What individual has given more to American schools than Oprah? The list is not large. This woman has given millions to Historically Black Colleges & Universities. After Hurricane Katrina, BET had a telethon where rappers, actors, and R&B singers raised over $11million that was given to the Red Cross. This was a great effort on the part of the celebrities and they need to be commended. However, the money went to an organization that was later found to be siphoning funds from money given for Katrina relief efforts.

Oprah, on the other hand, was much more hands on. She put up $10 million of her own money and built actual homes for people on her own street, Angel Lane. As she said, she was tired of just writing checks and not really seeing where the money goes. As she did with the homes post-Katrina, her Leadership Academy is hands on. It’s her money. How many cars, houses, and college tuitions has she paid for in America? Let us not be misguided in our frustration. We should turn our anger towards our government, which is investing more in Iraq & Afghanistan than on education reform in America.

Of course, I won’t even begin to mention the misdirected attacks she has taken from the hip-hop community for believing in her words that “you don’t have to bitch and ho me down to make good music.” please read the full article below for that. This misdirected disdain for Oprah is completely counterproductive. If we are truly interested in human progress, we would realize that improving the education in any country helps improve the education of all humanity. Oprah being African-American is also improving the negative perceptions that many in African countries have of African-American women, based on the degrading hip-hop videos that they see from America. As one parent of a Leadership Academy student said, “I didn’t know angels were black.” Does that not say it all? Thank you Oprah.

Oprah Winfrey and Hip-Hop

February 13, 2009

May 23, 2006

Oprah Winfrey has come under attack from some members of the hip-hop community for not supporting hip-hop in favor of her majority white, older female audience. Ludacris believed that when he was on Oprah as a cast member for the Oscar-winning film Crash, Oprah should have dealt with him as the actor and not the rapper. He also asserted that the show was edited to remove some of his comments in response to Oprah and Sandra Bullock’s comments concerning pejorative misogynistic lyrics in hip-hop. 50 Cent stated that Oprah pretty much caters to older white women and so it is actually in his best interest to be at odds with Oprah.

The only issue that was more annoying to me than the comments of these two rappers was the response from Oprah Winfrey. More or less, Oprah stated that she listens to Jay-Z, 50, Kanye West and others and that she loves hip-hop. That would have been fine. But she went the extra mile to state that she has 50 Cent’s In Da Club playing on her I-pod. This was entirely necessary.

As far as I see it, Oprah owes no explanation to the hip-hop community. She should not have gone out of her way to state that she actually listens to rappers with misogynistic lyrics. She would not have had artists like Kanye, Luda, and Jay-Z on her show if she did not support hip-hop in some way, shape, or form. How many heavy metal acts do you see on her show?

Rather, Oprah should have used this opportunity to give praise to rappers who do represent positivity. Why not use the platform she has constructed to express support for artists in hip-hop who are not misogynistic or vile with their lyrics? Even one of her favorite artists, Kanye West stated in his lyrics: “If I can go through all of this and still be breathin’/bitch bend over I’m here for a reason.” Oprah, who just had her magnificent Legend’s Ball honoring black women, does not have to express her support solely for hip-hop artists who put this type of work out.

Given that hip-hop is primarily purchased by the sons and daughters of Oprah’s audience, Oprah could single-handedly change the direction of hip-hop if she said for example, “I’m also a fan of Will Smith, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Omékongo.” Forgive me for the selfish plug, but honestly, I am one of thousands of MCs and poets who are intentionally choosing not to spew lyrics that condemn our women, and celebrate drugs and violence. A move like this could have the same effect on music that Oprah has had on literature. Instead of telling Luda that he is smart enough not use foul language in his work, why not support the artists who are smart enough to not degrade their people and actually do not degrade their people. How hard would that be?

At the end of the day, I will obviously stand with Oprah. No single person alive has worked harder to show images of positive black people. She is a woman of action. No one could have put together the Legend’s Ball quite like she did. I look forward to see who will organize something similar for black male icons. Her humanitarian heart pumps life into communities globally and locally. I really cannot imagine a world without Oprah. In all reality, the hip-hop community needs to do more to honor her and not vise versa.