Does Oprah Winfrey deserve the backlash for her comments about black leadership?

In promoting “Selma,” Oprah made a statement to People about leadership with the protests that are happening around the nation against police brutality and the killing of unarmed black men:

Oprah Winfrey has been watching the protests in Ferguson and New York like everyone else.

“I think it’s wonderful to march and to protest and it’s wonderful to see all across the country, people doing it,” she tells PEOPLE exclusively.

But it’s not enough to march, says Winfrey.

“What I’m looking for is some kind of leadership to come out of this to say, ‘This is what we want. This is what has to change, and these are the steps that we need to take to make these changes, and this is what we’re willing to do to get it.’ “

Protesters are not happy. They feel as if Oprah has disrespected those who have risen to be leaders throughout this movement.

I know this is just one person, however, he articulates how many are feeling about Oprah’s comments.

Here’s more.

I completely understand his position, as well as the position of other protesters and those who have emerged as leaders.  I empathize with them feeling disrespected, ignored, and being frustrated with Oprah’s words.  Furthermore, I get not really wanting to hear anything but words of support from those who aren’t on the ground, especially those who have resources like Oprah does.

But then there’s the other side. The movement that is taking place today is a new one.  It is a young one, a growing one.  Those who are leaders are under 30 years old (for the most part, I think). This young movement is connecting and appealing to those of use who are young.  And I am pretty sure any of them could tell you that A LOT can be attributed to Twitter.  Personally, that is how I get my information and how I keep up with everything. I then try to put it on here to keep people up to date, however, the movement is very fluid and is constantly changing and evolving.

Everybody doesn’t have Twitter. My parents are over 60 years old. Most of us who are connected to the current movement have parents who are around that age. While our struggle is something they dealt with as well, I think we all have to admit that it looked differently back then.  They had national leaders. That is how the movement looked back then. That is how things got done. National communication. And I believe that is what some are desiring now.

Does my mom know who those leaders are that are mentioned in the above tweets? No, she doesn’t. But if there were some on the national stage, no, not politicians….no, not rich individuals who are looking out for themselves, but leaders who have no other interest than to further the movement and connect EVERYBODY, no matter the age, then that would be helpful (in my opinion).

I am in complete awe of those leaders who have emerged during this movement. I feel nothing less than admiration toward them and am grateful for their efforts and sacrifice. And yes, I also desire a way to connect people to this movement who aren’t on Twitter. One who is sincere and unapologetically voices the desires of the people.  And that is not to say that this person or these people won’t emerge out of the leaders who are already leading! They deserve a national stage and resources to get the job done. Those leaders have put their lives on hold for this movement. They are to be acknowledged.

While I believe that Oprah should’ve given credit to those who ARE leading, I don’t find her comments to be those that were intended to slander and disrespect the current leaders. Poor choice of words? Absolutely. But disrespectful, harmful, divisive, etc.? I don’t see it that way. Yes, Oprah is rich. Yes, she has resources that most of us can only dream about. But she is also a 60 year old woman who grew up seeing the movement manifest itself in a completely different way (and she wasn’t always the billionaire that we see before us today). I don’t think we should hold that against her. Maybe she should be educated about what the leaders are doing. Maybe she needs to be more connected to what’s going on. I just don’t think that jumping all down her throat for these particular comments is helping anything either (I’m not necessarily talking about the above comments from Charles Wade).

Her saying that marches alone aren’t going to get the job done is accurate. And that is something that we all know. Protests, boycotts, making those who support police brutality and the injustice of the justice system feel a financial hit? That’s what has to happen. And it has to happen nationally. Not to put words in Oprah’s mouth, but I think THAT is what she was saying. She’s looking for mass organization. Again, not taking away from what has already been done, but just a desire to see MORE and on a BIGGER platform.

What do you all think? Are you offended by Oprah’s thoughts?

Updated: January 3, 2014 @ 2:20pm

Just wanted to come back and show this:

In other words, demands HAVE been made and articulated.

And this last tweet? I completely agree with it. The young leaders don’t have the platform and resources needed, but those of you who do, why not give them said platform?





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