I don’t blame Oprah personally for her lack of response, as I’m sure she has a pretty strong “filter” around her, curating what gets through to her and what doesn’t.
But I feel compelled to push this message again in the wake of Oprah’s stunning speech at the Golden Globes. I take no issue with her speech; it was beautiful and necessary. It’s the aftermath, the #Oprah2020 buzz, that makes me uneasy.
If Oprah wants to be president, the filter needs to go. Part of the mess we’re in now–the mess that makes a discussion like “Oprah 2020” a thing–is the fact that we’ve all set filters on our lives, shushing the stories and voices that make us uneasy or challenge our worldviews. From the sound of things, our current president has a very strong filter between him and reality, one that boosts his ego and causes him to act without regard for anyone but himself, it seems.
The President of the United States of America, however, must listen to everything, even the things he or she does not want to hear. (This is among many other required qualifications that Oprah lacks as well.)
And these are values Oprah does seem to hold. In her speech, she mentioned the importance of pushing against secrets and lies, and asserted that “speaking your truth is the most powerful tool you have.”Embed from Getty Images
YES! Yes, of course! I know this, because for over 8 years now I’ve been speaking out against a man whose lies killed people. I’ve been speaking truth to power, a man powerful enough that even after he gets out of prison, can continue conducting events and command the ear of the media.I’m still waiting for the reckoning of James Ray, who is right now selling weekend events where he will lead customers through physical exercises and give them nutrition advice–areas in which he has no formal training to be leading others. I won’t be surprised when another James Ray customer becomes a victim.
In this original letter I wrote to Oprah, I asked her to help us share this story, expose this man and even more importantly, expose the wider dangers of the self-help/self-improvement industry in which she is an influential voice; to use her voice to help us be Kirby’s voice. I wrote this letter to Oprah because in many ways, Oprah is a part of “the power” that directs our conversations and influences our culture.
And according to Oprah, this story is the type of story she’s tried to share throughout her career–the stories of people who had the “…ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even in [their] darkest nights.”
Well, I don’t know anyone who embodies that sentiment more than my mother, Ginny Brown, who in the wake of one of the most horrible events a parent can experience–the death of a child–tirelessly works to protect others and improve an industry that should be a source of strength to its customers rather than a danger.
This is the story Oprah should be telling. But instead, there seems to be fear of repercussions and what the admissions she must make will say about her. Unless she’s prepared to let go of the filter that protects her and to start addressing even the uncomfortable truths that may expose a little piece of her, #Oprah2020 will not be the cure America needs. And even then, I’m really not so sure Oprah’s the answer.