Something happened whilst I slept last night. In fact, something amazing happened. Oprah spoke. You see during the night the 75th Golden Globes Awards show aired and it made many statements. Normally one of the biggest things on people’s lips after an awards ceremony is the clothing worn, but this year this narrative has a completely different meaning. Most of the actresses chose to wore black in support of the Time’s Up movement.
The Time’s Up movement was founded in 2018 to make a statement against sexual harassment in light of the sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein and other big name male stars in Hollywood. It’s a movement that stemmed organically from the #MeToo movement founded by civil rights activist Tarana Burke in 2006 which was to highlight the extent of sexual abuse and assault in society. Although such a simple move, showing solidarity by wearing black (from both the male and female actresses and producers) speaks loudly that time truly is up for blindly accepting one of the most widely known ‘secrets’ in Hollywood.
Aside from the clothing, what was said at the awards show was undoubtedly the biggest stand out. If you’ve read any bit of social media over the last few hours (or days depending on when you’re reading this!), you’d have heard that Oprah Winfrey delivered a very moving speech. Oprah is the first black woman to have won the Cecille B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. You may have heard a bit of the speech, or maybe all of it. Well, this morning when I woke up I decided to do a bit of news reading and came across Oprah’s speech. After listening to her speech I found I had a few tears in my eyes. Not because the speech is particularly sad, but more for the fact that so much truth had been spoken and with a lot of power in the words. It also gave me a stir in the spirit that things are definitely changing. I was also very proud to be a woman. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a feminist (simply because I have not invested much into truly understanding what that term really means), but I am all about empowerment. After listening to Oprah’s speech, I felt truly empowered.
If you have not heard the speech I’ve managed to get the transcript of it from the CNN website. So for the sake of referencing, here’s the full speech:
Oprah’s full speech
In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house in Milwaukee watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: “The winner is Sidney Poitier.” Up to the stage came the most elegant man I had ever seen. I remember his tie was white, and of course his skin was black, and I had never seen a black man being celebrated like that. I tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door bone tired from cleaning other people’s houses. But all I can do is quote and say that the explanation in Sidney’s performance in “Lilies of the Field”:
“Amen, amen, amen, amen.”
In 1982, Sidney received the Cecil B. DeMille award right here at the Golden Globes and it is not lost on me that at this moment, there are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this same award. It is an honor — it is an honor and it is a privilege to share the evening with all of them and also with the incredible men and women who have inspired me, who challenged me, who sustained me and made my journey to this stage possible. Dennis Swanson who took a chance on me for “A.M. Chicago.” Quincy Jones who saw me on that show and said to Steven Spielberg, “Yes, she is Sophia in ‘The Color Purple.'” Gayle who has been the definition of what a friend is, and Stedman who has been my rock — just a few to name.
I want to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association because we all know the press is under siege these days. We also know it’s the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice. To — to tyrants and victims, and secrets and lies. I want to say that I value the press more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times, which brings me to this: what I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. And I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell, and this year we became the story.
– Full transcript obtained from CNN.com
This speech by Oprah not only spoke truths that needed to be heard, but it also told a story. In fact, many stories were told in this one speech. Not only did we hear Oprah’s story, but that of Sydney Poitier and Recy Taylor. We also heard our own story. The experiences of not just Hollywood stars, but also the story of Susan the teacher, Iyawa the Engineer and Kajal the scientist. It also highlighted that despite the ugliness of hearts, there are still heroes out there. Both men and women can be heroes – ‘magnificent women’ and ‘phenomenal men’. The important thing is that we use this speech to remind us to not accept things as they are. We need to be bold enough to speak up – if not for ourselves, but for those to come.
Let’s remember that sexual harassment and abuse is not just a Hollywood issue. This is an everyday issue that women and men are experiencing – whether that be in Parliament or in school, it’s not an alien occurrence. Making noise about injustice is something that needs to continue until the injustices die. I read a tweet recently which said that instead of wearing black to the Golden Globes, individual’s should have boycotted the awards show. Whilst I can kind of understand why they would suggest this, I don’t necessarily agree. I think attending the awards ceremony was the best thing to do, especially as this is one of the first major ceremonies to occur since the sexual harassment allegations had been brought to light. This was a perfect opportunity for Hollywood to come together to make that collective stand.
Whilst I’ve not given any ground-breaking revelations in my assessment of the Oprah speech, I just wanted to jot down some thoughts I’ve had running through my mind the whole day today. If you haven’t already read some of Oprah’s work in the past, check out her book What I know for sure for a truly inspirational read.
Oprah for President, anyone?!
Having now read the speech, what are your thoughts? Let me know below! Why not also take a look at this post for some more inspiration this year.
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