Too Soon? Divining Democrats With the ‘It’ Factor for 2020

OPINION — A die-hard Democrat said to me at the gym, “Somebody has to MAKE Michelle Obama run for president.” This was after Obama’s appearance in a television interview, in which she reminded the world what it’s been missing.

Sorry to let that educated, suburban woman in workout clothes down, but in the former first lady’s own words, she has no wish to be president. Besides, she has already done her time under the microscope, making history along with her husband. It’s someone else’s turn now.

But which someone?

Opinion: Why Oprah in 2020 Is Both Blessing and Curse for Trump and the GOP

It didn’t take long for “Oprah in 2020” to start trending after the one-named icon’s stirring Golden Globes speech on Sunday night.

Perhaps not surprisingly, considering his gift for exploiting political and cultural fault lines, one of the first to connect the media and philanthropic queen to electoral gold was none other than Donald Trump, who has said in the past that the two on a presidential ticket would win “easily.”

Maybe the president really is the “very stable genius” he says he is.

But did Trump also see her as the competition that could be his undoing?

The Deal Donald Trump Couldn’t Close

Way back in 1999, when Donald Trump was toying with the idea of a presidential run, he was asked who would be a good vice president on a Trump ticket and cited Oprah Winfrey, calling her “very special.” Just last year, he repeated that choice, saying that together, the two would win “easily.” It would be the showman’s dream. Celebrity meets celebrity.

Well,  Oprah Winfrey is taken now. She has endorsed Hillary Clinton, and that, as Trump would say, is huge. Next to her, other Clinton celebrity endorsers, including George Clooney, look like chopped liver.


There’s More Than 1 Kind of Black: HBCUs Celebrate the Diversity of the Diaspora

It was definitely a major coup for Johnson C. Smith University, one of the nation’s HBCUs, to snag Oprah Winfrey as its commencement speaker. And she certainly delivered with down-to earth wisdom, her own inspirational stories and lessons from leaders from Martin Luther King Jr. to Maya Angelou.

On a sunny Sunday morning, Winfrey told the sea of more than 300 graduates—her words overheard by the several thousand family members and friends who came to support them—“Your future is so bright, JCSU, it burns my eyes!” The eyes that stared back at her, sometimes glistening with tears, reflected the global diversity of HBCUs, a quality that might surprise those who don’t know much about the schools’ historical mission. (Winfrey herself attended HBCU Tennessee State University.)

Winfrey was just one of a parade of high-profile speakers at HBCUs, up to and including the president and first lady, who, during the Barack Obama years, have highlighted the institutions that historically educated a majority of the doctors, lawyers and professionals of color—and, indeed, students of color in general—before most majority white institutions admitted them. And because admission to majority-white schools doesn’t guarantee a warm welcome (see current turmoil because of racially charged incidents on campuses from the University of Missouri to Yale), many students of color given every option continue to gravitate toward HBCUs for social and psychological reasons in addition to academic ones.

Shades of prejudice hurt — but can’t stop — ‘Dark Girls’

The discussion didn’t start with “Dark Girls,” which recently aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). But the documentary has brought talk about “colorism,” discrimination on the basis of skin color, into the open, something that co-director-producer Bill Duke noted in an interview Thursday morning. He remembered an African American woman in New York, who asked him why he was, in her words, “airing our dirty laundry.” Duke’s answer: “With all due respect, because it’s stinking up the house.”

Meeting Gloria Steinem and making peace — sort of

It’s not that I know Gloria Steinem. But we do have history – personal and political – that not so neatly mirrors the way African Americans and women struggled with society and each other in fights for equal justice.