Archive for the ‘Oprah Winfrey’ Category

I Was Hungry, and You Gave Me A Voucher

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Let’s get one thing straight, Oprah. This is not what Jesus had in mind when he said in Matthew 25 that one of the qualifications of those who will inherit the Kingdom, “I was hungry and you fed me.”

Perhaps you heard about Oprah teaming up with KFC to launch a campaign promoting a free meal of grilled chicken at KFC outlets? You haven’t? Where have you been? A Google search for “Oprah KFC coupon” turns up over 48,000 hits.

kfc oprahHere’s how it went. Oprah and KFC teamed up to promote KFC’s new “Kentucky Grilled Chicken” product with a free coupon offering “two pieces of grilled chicken, two individual sides and a biscuit.” You and I both know that offering free food is an attention getter all by itself. But it seems that Oprah and KFC were clueless about just how deep a recession America is in. Neither had any idea that millions of people in this country are jobless and hungry. Nor did either know that there are millions of more people in this country who, though neither jobless or hungry, just can’t pass up a free meal.

You can probably take a guess at what happened next.

Visits to Oprah’s website to get the KFC vouchers nearly crashed the site. Mayhem erupted at KFC outlets across the country. Lines for free chicken were outside the door. Crowds became rowdy when stores ran out of chicken or refused to honor the vouchers. Police had to be called in in some places to restore order.

I don’t have to tell you that downloadable vouchers are no longer available on Oprah’s website. KFC had to end the voucher campaign, or they were going to go out of business.  Hens went on strike and stopped laying eggs.  (Just kidding.)

And now animal rights groups are up in arms against Winfrey. Winfrey was named PETA’s Person of the Year just last year because the talk show host  used the show to highlight the cruelty-free vegan diet that she tried!  Now they’re asking how could she use her influence last year to expose the cruel conditions in which factory farm-raised animals live, and this year team up with KFC who gets its chickens from Tyson’s Food, one of the worst offenders in the industry. (Or, so says animal rights groups.)

I know what capitalist behemoth KFC was thinking.  It’s all about making a dollar.

But what in the world was Oprah Winfrey thinking? She wasn’t. On second thought, perhaps she was.  Perhaps she agreed to team up with KFC in light of her recent admission about her own weight struggles, thinking she would be helping to promote good health among her millions of fans –switching from the fried version of the chicken to the grilled. More likely, Oprah teamed up with KFC because, hey, she’s a business woman. And that’s what business women do. Strike deals and make money.

“White people gets free houses and cars from Oprah,” says one black comedian, “but all black folks get from Oprah is free chicken from KFC.” That’s an unfair observation. Funny, but unfair. Winfrey didn’t have any say over who downloaded vouchers from her website.

I can imagine the scene there in New York where, they say, when told that there was no more chicken customers started yelling and waving vouchers in the air and refusing to leave the premises until they got their free chicken.

And, of course, Jesus wasn’t around to take those five remaining chicken pieces there at the store, bless them, and divide them among the thousands waiting outside to be fed.

File this one under: It sounded like a good idea at the time. But I (Oprah) was wrong.

What do you think of Oprah Winfrey’s support of KFC?  ‘Fess up. One you were one of the millions who got a free meal from one of the vouchers from Oprah’s website?

O…O…O and Michelle

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Picked up the  recent issue of O magazine, you know the one with Oprah and Michelle Obama on the cover, and read it on the plane yesterday from Los Angeles. For the first time since the magazine was launched nine years ago, O, The Oprah Magazine features a cover model other than just Winfrey herself.

april 2009 cover

Lots of you have made it abundantly clear on the blog that you don’t read O magazine. I don’t understand why not. I try to read it whenever I can. It’s really pretty good. Great articles. Strong writing.  Striking photos. Okay, so I’m rarely interested in the magazine’s fashions. Okay, given Oprah’s much publicized battle with weight and with all the talk she does on her show about growing older and wiser you’d expect the magazine to feature more women models with beauty and glamour the average woman can duplicate as opposed to the kind that makes you just stare at, envy, and slam the magazine shut. If you can get past the willowy young women with plastic expressions that fill the magazine, you’re bound to find something to read that well worth the magazine’s $4.50 price.

I appreciate Winfrey’s commitment to feature some socially important topic in every issue. There’s always something in the magazine for the thinking, socially conscious woman. I like that.This month? Preserving the earth’s resources.  I don’t buy nearly as magazines every month as I once did. But I buy and read O because it’s the only magazine on the stands published by a black woman. That alone should make it worth our support. And, by the way, it doesn’t bother me a bit that Oprah’s face has been the only face on the cover for the past 9 years. She’s figured out a way to brand her name, her face, and the first letter of her name. What’s the problem with that? You go girl.  For all you haters out there, stop hating.

In the April issue Oprah Winfrey asks Michelle Obama about her new life in the White House.  If you’re interested in what Michelle Obama has to say, buy the magazine. It’s the First Lady’s first interview from the White House (a major coup for O magazine).

Here are some highlights of the interview:

* On her first weekend in the White House: Well, we still had family here, so it was almost like a wedding. A huge, very complicated wedding. The last visitors didn’t leave until Sunday. And then the first Monday was kind of weird. You know: Now we live here, and Barack is getting up and going to work, and it’s just us. This is our home now.

* On who the White House really belongs to: When you go out and come back, especially at night, with all the white lights on — it’s just beautiful. We feel privileged, and we feel a responsibility to make it feel like the people’s house. We have the good fortune of being able to sleep here, but this house belongs to America.

* On her marriage to Barack Obama: I don’t lose sight of the fact that he’s the president, but first and foremost he’s my husband, my friend, and the father of my children. That didn’t change with his hand on the Lincoln Bible. But it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the gravity of what he’s doing. The way I can honor that is by working by his side and adding value to what he’s doing in any way that I can. that’s my part in this.

Buy O, read it, and let me know what you think.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Let’s start the year off with positive news, shall we?.

Oprah has been talked about several times on this blog. But let’s applaud her for her end-of-year  $365,000 donation to the Ron Clark Academy an inner-city school located in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods in Atlanta. It’s a gift the school and its students will remember for a long time. The check arrived in a Federal Express envelope with a note from Winfrey to Clark applauding him for the “profound difference you’re making with your passion for teaching.”Winfrey’s gift to the Ron Clark Academy was only a small part of the 8 millions she donated to education projects in 2008.

Clark Academy

Clark and his students became overnight Internet stars during the presidential election when a video of the students performing a political rap song they wrote grabbed the public’s attention on YouTube. The children ended up performing the rap, called “Vote However U Like,” on national TV shows including CNN, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show.  Teachers at the school frequently use rapping, dancing and drumming to help students learn.

Here’s to women of means like Oprah Winfrey who use their money to effect change in the world.

A  study from ING, working with Essence magazine, explored black women’s attitudes toward money early last year. The participants, all black women, said they worried about finances more than their health, appearance, job, or relationships. Here are some highlights:

  • 47 percent of black women surveyed said it is difficult to have the lifestyle they want because of financial obligations to immediate family.
  • More than one third have loaned more than $1,000 to friends or family in the last year.
  • 71 percent said it was “very important” to donate money to their place of worship.
  • 41 percent feel guilty about how much they spend on expensive brands.2 in 5 reported total savings of less than $10,000.
  • 2 in 5 reported total savings of less than $10,000.

Women have been the biggest charitable givers for centuries. I love the story in Luke 8 which talks about 3 women, Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna, who followed Jesus’s ministry and contributed generously to it out of their means as working women and women of independent means.

Did you know that millionaires like Winfrey attend philanthropy classes that teach them things like how to give, when to give, and why they ought to (must) give.   And not just for tax purposes. Nor just out of obligation. They learn how to use their money to build a legacy. They learn how to use their money to support causes they believe in and to change society.  Put your money where your mouth is. But they also learn that money has a spirit. Oh yeah. You don’t have to be religious to know that. It’s a law of nature. Give and the universe notices. Give and it comes back to you. Give and it shall be given to you.  So, here’s to Oprah.

So, what did you give to last year? How much money did you give away? What do you believe in enough to support with substantial donations? You don’t have to have Oprah’s millions to donate this year to the causes you believe in. To put your money where your mouth is. To put your money where your heart is.  

How Did She Let This Happen-Again?

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Somebody explain it to me.

Why should anyone give a twit about the fact that Oprah Winfrey is back to being fat with all that’s going on in the world?  Aren’t there enough real crises to pray about — bail outs and a recession, war and suicide bombings, political corruption and missing children –without being distracted with pablum?

Hey, I can appreciate Oprah’s decision to own up to her weight gain and to talk about her disappointment in herself in the next month issue of her titular O magazine. That’s a topic one expects in a women’s magazine such as O (which, by the way, I enjoy reading while on the plane). But I don’t expect to turn on the tv and find that annoying Rick Sanchez CNN anchor guy or that equally annoyingly self-important CNN guy Wolf Blitzer touting Oprah Winfrey’s forty pound weight gain as news.

So, Oprah has put back on the weight she lost a few years ago. So, what else is new? Who would have thought? Stand in line. blah, blah, blah. Many of us struggle with our weight. As I’ve pointed out before, America as a whole has a weight problem but black women have an even bigger weight problem.  Something is wrong when upwards of 70% of African American women, says researchers, are overweight and over half of overweight black women fall within the obese range. No, you’re not big-boned, girlfriend.

winfrey weight gainOprah’s disappointed, embarrassed, and mad at herself, she says in next month’s O magazine.  I know the feeling as I try sucking in my gut while sitting here typing this blog piece. But there are no excuses and very little pity to dole out right about now. Not for someone as rich and famous as Oprah Winfrey anyway from what I can tell.  Those who live by the sword end up dying by the sword. Meaning , you make losing weight a part of your fame, you shouldn’t be surprised when you’re pelted and lampooned by the public for putting those pounds back on.

You gotta give it to Oprah, though. She’s a smart business woman. She knows how to make money off her personal failures. Instead of the typical air-brushed, photo resized glamorous self-portrait that we’ve come to expect on the cover, next month’s O will feature two photos on the cover- a skinny(er) Oprah and fat(er) Oprah. Now that’s savvy.

If there’s anything noteoworthy to be taken from Oprah’s weight gain story here in December, let it be a reminder to all of us not to gorge ourselves and overeat this holiday season. Take care of your body this holiday. Eat, drink, and be merry. But listen to your body. Pay attention to your heart. Have that scoop of Blue Bell’s ice cream. But only one scoop.