Oprah blames the kids

Oprah obviously didn’t watch Season Four of The Wire.

In an interview in Newsweek’s January 8 issue (out January 1), Winfrey discusses building her $40 million Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls school in South Africa for impoverished teenagers, and more:

Oprah also knows that some people will complain that charity should
begin at home, even though she has provided millions of dollars to educate
poor children in the United States, especially via her Oprah Winfrey
Scholars Program, Samuels reports. But she sees the two situations as
entirely different.

“Say what you will about the American educational system — it does work,” Oprah tells Newsweek. “If you are a child in the United States, you can get an education.” And she doesn’t think that American students — who, unlike Africans, go to school free of charge — appreciate what they have. “I became so frustrated with visiting inner-city schools that I just stopped going. The sense that you need to learn just isn’t there,” she says. “If you ask the kids what they want or need, they will say an iPod or some sneakers. In South Africa, they don’t ask for money or toys. They ask for uniforms so they can go to school.”

Okay, first, it’s true that Winfrey has given away gazillions of dollars to great causes including schools here. Second, more power to her for helping out South African kids.

That said, knowing she has the power to influence literally millions of Americans, that people actually do listen to what she says, she basically writes off the most at-risk kids in the country as unsalvageable. Further, she simplistically blames the children themselves, rather than trying to give even a superficial analysis of why these kids are the way they are, why the teachers can’t win, why the schools are broken, why entire neighborhoods are dying. Conversely, nor does she even give lip service to the prevalent self-sufficiency/personal responsibility/bootstraps! meme.

No, the wealthiest, most-successful African American woman on the planet instead whines about not visiting inner-city schools because she got too frustrated. Nice example there, Oprah. That’ll teach ’em.

[crossposted at virgotext]



  1. nevermind that Oprah gives cars to strangers, so what can it hurt to ask her for an iPod?

    Right on her for opening that school, but she can’t blame the kids for thinking free consumer crap might be coming their way when Oprah shows up.

  2. true that, md, hell, I’m pretty sure that I’d probably ask Oprah for an iPod if I met her.

  3. […] him for “Oh really? I think you need a lot of context to seriously examine anything.” Oprah, are you listening? But this battle is lost with the death knell: “If you leave everything in, soon you’ve […]

  4. She said something similar in 2006 when she appeared at a fundraiser for a wealthy white private school in Baltimore and criticized the ailing city school system.



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