Off to See the Wizard

I went to see Oprah for a lot of reasons.

I always wanted to go to her show and I was sure that the energy of the O You! seminar in Atlanta would be as good or better.    I admire her as a person, so why not add her to the list of iconic figures I have seen in my lifetime: John Kennedy, Elvis Presley, and Aretha Franklin top my list.

What I didn’t expect is a rich cultural experience.

Although I had expected to go with my sister, when she couldn’t make it I decided to go on my own.  Had we gone together it would have been a thrilling and wonderful time.   But maybe there is a reason for everything. Or perhaps great things happen whenever I live any part of my to its fullest.

Atlanta was a bit like a foreign country to me.  I live in a predominately white area.  If there is ethnic mix it is primarily latino.   Most cities I have visited in the U.S. have had an interesting hodgepodge of races, cultures, languages, etc.  Downtown Atlanta where I stayed was different.   Maybe it’s just that the black people are the ones who helped me, talked to me, etc.  Is it southern hospitality?  Is it the seeming propensity of an entire cultural group to show their feelings more readily?  I don’t know.

At my hotel I met a lot of the Oprah groupies.  We shared a common expectation that we would learn, be energized, and enjoy a bit of celebrity watching along the way.  There were women like myself; aging white women.  And lots of women in their 40’s and 50’s…Oprah’s core followers.  And because it was in Atlanta, they were surely mostly southerners.  And there was a preponderance of black women.

These the are women who welcomed me and enfolded me.  They watched for me and out for me in every possible situation.  Who knew?   When I stood in lines, it was black women, young and old, who made me a part of everything they did.  My coterie of black friends and acquaintances waved enthusiastically at me from crowded rooms, they saved me seats, and they met me for lunch.  When I heard my name called from passing cars, it was black women  stopping to ask about my reactions to the day.

If the white women I met would have been as inclusive, I think I would have been just as receptive.  After all, I was alone. It didn’t happen that way, however.  And I don’t think it’s the color.  It’s in our attitude and culture.  I hope I can be more like my new friends than my old self.

And I’m grateful.  Because my vantage point was different.

I am blessed to have heard Oprah speak in such a relatively private setting.  From the moment she appeared on stage, she seemed more relaxed than I have ever seen her.  At first I attributed it to the fact that she has switched gears.  Even if her present schedule is grueling, it can’t be half of what it was in her Oprah Show days.

As I listened to her and watched, as I felt the receptive energy of those around me, I realized that Oprah was home.  She was in the south.  She was among a demographic of women who knew her.  She spoke their language and they heard her message.  They called out to her, both in spirit and in voice.

“Amen, Oprah.”

The laughter rang and the tears fell as she told intimate stories of her own life.  She commanded the stage like a rock star. She told us of her successes and failures, shared her thoughts and feelings, and cajoled us toward belief in ourselves as an evangelist would lead us to the altar.

If she were a preacher…I’d be going to church.  (Especially if she shared the pulpit with Donna Brazile.)

This trip was one long Oprah moment.  My solo trip to Atlanta enriched my life in more ways than I could have dreamed.

xxoo

Comments

  1. Reflecting on our converstion last evening and reading your post today ~ I rcall Donna Brazile as a political advisor/organizer of national stature who is well-respected. My mini ah-ha moment this morning is that I didn’t remember her as a black woman….or is she? It is this kind of color blindness that, hopefully, our country is getting a little closer to each day. In the meantime, what a rich, deep experience you had with Madam “O”. She is iconic, indeed.

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  2. Amen. So glad you got to go an be in the South – kind of like my experience with Fantasy camp.

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  3. You saw Oprah!! And Atlanta!! I had the same feeling when I went there years ago. I admire you had the courage to go alone and the openness to receive all the love from strangers who became friends. You go, girl!

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