At the Golden Globes last week, Oprah Winfrey delivered a speech so powerful that it set off “Oprah for President” fever in many viewers. Oprah 2020 trended on Twitter, polls showed she’d beat Trump by double digits, and all the talking heads on the news discussed the possibility of Oprah seriously running for President. Her good friend Gail King was also enthusiastic about the possibility, saying “she’s intrigued.”
I’m not on team Oprah quite yet, because I believe that when someone drives a car through your house, you don’t fix it by driving a nicer car through your house, but the idea has some Republicans scared to death. So scared in fact, that they’re making up and spreading fake Oprah quotes to show her unfitness for office, which is somehow different for them than when Trump actually said a lot of stupid, offensive things and they still voted for him.
The quote that conservatives have been spreading around goes something like “all old white people have to die.”
Context is not their strong suite. She didn’t say that. At all, actually.
Snopes has a transcript of the interview it allegedly came from, along with a rating of “False” with the viral quote:
WINFREY: It would be foolish to not recognize that we have evolved, and that we’re not still facing the same kind of terrorism against black people en masse as was displayed with the Scottsboro boys. It’s gotten better.
Are there still places where people are terrorized because of the color of their skin, because of the color of their black skin? Yes. But there are laws that have allowed us to progress beyond what we saw in the Scottsboro Boys, and beyond even prejudice that we see in The Butler. I mean, his ability to go in… One of my favorite scenes ever — spoiler alert — is him going in and asking for the raise. I think that’s one of the finest acting jobs I’ve ever seen. You know that moment?
INTERVIEWER: Of course. Are you saying problem solved?
WINFREY: I’m saying problem not solved. I’m saying that, you know, that’s the beauty of a film like The Butler, and it’s the beauty of a film like 12 Years a Slave, and it’s the beauty of what we’re seeing on stage with Scottsboro Boys … it allows people to see where the root of the problem started. It allows people to see, “Oh, that’s where it all started, this is how far we’ve come, and now this is how much farther we need to go.”
Of course the problem is not solved. As long as people can be judged by the color of their skin, the problem’s not solved. As long as there are people who still… And there’s a whole generation — I said this for apartheid South Africa, I said this for my own community in the South — there are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism, and they just have to die.
Clearly, all she was saying is that she doesn’t believe our problems with racism will end until these older generations die off. She wasn’t calling for some kind of genocide or wiping out old, white people. She was simply making an observation. And likely a true one.