Last week, Oprah was given an award at the Golden Globes. During her acceptance speech, Oprah made use of the platform saying that women needed to be empowered to stand up and confront those who perpetrate sexual harassment. It was a powerful speech. Afterwards many clamoured for her to consider running for President against Donald Trump in 2o20. She was sensitive, articulate, thoughtful, and aware. Many others said this was a bad idea- she is inexperienced politically, she is a celebrity, and after years of being on the richest women in the United States, she may have lost touch with the common person.
What do I think? Could she run and win? Yes. Would her celebrity status and political inexperience hurt her? Yes. The American people have just elected someone who was a celebrity without experience and it has not gone well. Might she do a good job as president? I am not sure. Time would tell. It is a tough job and the skills required change all of the time.
In thinking about Donald Trump as president and a possible President Oprah, one can easily see they rely on their celebrity status as the basis of much of their support. For good and bad they had an advantage over many of their opponents because they are known quantities. Politician "A" might be a gifted politician with some appeal, but everyone knew who Donald Trump was before he ran for president. Trump had the being famous advantage. Celebrity status in this world of quick sound bytes on the news has come to be very important.
It is not just in the realm of politics that status matters. I know I have certain advantages over others just because of the luck of the draw of my birth. As a caucasian looking person (even though I have First Nations heritage as well) I am less likely to face extra scrutiny because of my race by some. As a male, even though society has made some strides towards gender equality, I am less likely to be told I shouldn't or can't do a job because I am male. As a male who is middle aged I am less likely to be told I don't know what I am talking about because I am too old or too young. And although I speak with a funny accent (here in Australia), English is my first language and so some people value what I say more than those who learned English as an adult.
Whether I deserve it or not, society has given me a certain status because of who I am. I say this not to laud my position in the world- far from it- but in order to recognise that others face different obstacles, challenges, and pitfalls that I might do. I also say this because I realise that all those things that have given me status in the world are things which we should no longer pay heed to- the inherent and explicit racism, sexism, ageism, and other isms that place one person over the other. These isms are wrong. Each person should be judged on their gifts and abilities, and not on our perceived perspectives of what they think they might be like. But until that day finally happens, when we can put all the isms aside, we must recognise those times when society has given us status that we have not earned. Blessings.
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