The old, white ladies are all piling up on poor Opry. First that Kitty Kelley comes out with her tell-all. Now Miss Kitty’s pal, author Erica “Bitterella” Jong, is remembering that one time Oprah declined to be interviewed by her, takes credit for O magazine, and shares this gem: “she seems to have gotten more race conscious than she was when she was younger. You never felt that Oprah was a professional Negro.” Uh, WTF? Pop the top for highlights.
When Tina Brown asked me to write a profile of Oprah for the New Yorker, I came to it as an admirer. I loved Oprah’s Angel Network and the philanthropy she was both doing and inspiring others to do. I still admire this.
I laid out my thoughts to Oprah and she didn’t say yes, didn’t say no — but agreed to “pray over it.” Fair enough.
When we spoke a week later, she declined, mostly, I think, because of a piece in the New York Times Magazine by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison — which I’d never seen. It had really stung her. And somehow she saw all New York publications as related. I understood this. I really did.
I have forgotten my rave reviews and memorized my vicious ones — like most writers. So I understood. I went back to the current novel disappointed, but also relieved. It’s hard to do fiction and nonfiction simultaneously. And I knew the research for this piece would be exhaustive and difficult. I’d already tried to find a biography of Oprah at used book dealers and found them scarce. Had someone bought them up, taken them off the market. Who knows?
But when you dodge interviews — even one as classy as the New Yorker (which is not known for trashing people), people become intrigued. Why? A New Yorker profile is usually seen as a great coup.
Then there’s this….
“I don’t need a white New York magazine — I could have my own magazine,” she said.
“Of course you could” I said.
Then I called up Ellen Levine at Good Housekeeping, met with her and suggested that we do a whole issue celebrating Oprah.
“She could be the editor,” I said. That way she wouldn’t be nervous.
I don’t know if I suggested O magazine or if great minds think alike or if O was already in the works, but I have tons of ideas and give them freely. There are always more to come.
You can’t copyright ideas, as I know from my cute lawyer husband. So if I enriched Hearst and Oprah so be it. I never became a writer for the money. I am a poet first. Even getting published is a miracle for poets.
And let’s not forget….
Oprah seems to have gotten more mistrustful with fame, not less. And she seems to have gotten more race conscious than she was when she was younger. You never felt that Oprah was a professional Negro. She seemed totally unaware of race — but what do I know about being black? It’s not like being Jewish with a Chinese nom de plume.
I believe that racism is far from extinguished in the world — despite the celebration that greeted the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. Racism lurks in our country and all over the world. But people who have transcended prejudice have a special obligation not to carry grudges. After all, grudges hurt the grudge-holder most. We also have a responsibility to set a good example by not holding grudgers.
So glad this jealous, ol’ b*tch is setting a good example and “not holding grudges.” We’re guessing she is not one of Oprah’s Favorite Things.