The fact that Oprah Winfrey is a black woman should come as no surprise to anyone in the civilized world. If you live in Chicago, you may have passed her by on Michigan Avenue, seen her in Starbucks or worked out on a Stairmaster next to her at the East Bank Club.
If you've never seen her in person, on TV or in any magazine or news publication-however unlikely that may be-you'll have to take my word for it. I have seen her in person and she is a black woman.
If the fact that Oprah actually is a black woman doesn't qualify her as one, it should be noted that she was born to a single, black mother in rural Mississippi in 1954. If there is such a thing as having blue blood of blackness, I think her blood would be as blue as it gets.
If you're wondering why we've wasted so many words establishing Ms. Winfrey's racial credentials, it's because talk show host Mark Levin has called them into question.
I've spent the better part of the last week trying to figure out what qualifies a Jewish guy from Pennsylvania to say that Oprah isn't qualified to speak out on racism in American. Has he seen Mississippi Burning?
From the bully pulpit of his radio show, Levin said, "Oprah Winfrey has no idea what it's like to live in a country that really is brutally racist...I'm not talking about older people who lived through segregation and those other horrible events, because obviously they do."
I'm not sure there's any reasonable response to Levin's proclamation, but responding to anything Mark Levin says, either verbally or in his books can often leave one scratching one's head. In his book, "Liberty and Tyranny", Levin puts forth that Statists abhor liberty and that monarchy and feudalism were based on equality. Scratching your head, right?
For the record, Jim Crow laws were not completely overruled until Oprah was 10, the rights of blacks to vote not protected until she was 11.
The question that I keep asking myself is how and why one needs to become qualified to speak out on racism in America other than just being aware that it exists. Just watching the news is a pretty good window to racial undertones simmering under the surface of American culture.
Levin's remarks came on the heels of a BBC interview in which Oprah opined that the antipathy and disrespect with which President Obama has been treated is largely based on the fact that he is not a white man.
FOX News jumped on it, accusing Winfrey of playing the race card, the latest spin on racism. You can be a racist, but you can't be accused of it.
Dick Cheney, who may or may not be a living being, said that anyone who attacked then-President Bush was a traitor. He made it clear that it was OK to disagree with a president, but you must respect the office. Having his heart removed may have erased that memory from what I'm sure must be a flash drive inserted into the back of his head.
Racially speaking, President Obama isn't completely black, so Mark Levin would consider him unqualified to speak of racism in America. On the other side of that fickle coin, the President isn't completely white, so men like Mitch McConnell consider him unqualified to speak of anything.
I'm not sure what, exactly would qualify as a "country that really is brutally racist." I think the fact that an entire political party found the shooting of an unarmed, black teenager justifiable may put a country into the running for brutal racism.
I didn't live through the Holocaust and I certainly didn't learn about it from Mel Gibson's father. As a member of our species, though, I feel qualified to speak out on the horrors of genocide. Who among us isn't?
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