Oprah and Her Disciples

"Oprah" Watercolor on Paper. Copyright 2012 Totsymae

“Oprah” Watercolor on Paper. Copyright 2012 Totsymae

No, this is not an Oprah-bashing blog post. I, rather, like Oprah. I’m not an Oprah fanatic, however. I’m too practical and level-headed to be fawning over her. I reserve all that for Harry Connick, Jr, Johnny Depp and, well, honestly, Denzel’s kinda fallen off the hot radar for me. I’m not sure why other than to say I’m not interested anymore. The love has gone stale, you might say.

Well, I was sitting here watching Dr. Phil and it got me to thinking about all the folk Oprah’s put on the map for us to follow. You have to admit, Oprah keeps good company. Not with us but us with her. Oprah’s, after all, the modern guru of self-help. And all the folk she’s put on the map wants to help you in some sorta way.

Suze Orman wants you pinch your pennies and squeeze  breakfast juice from them. Dr. Phil wants to rearrange your psyche and sell books by his son’s, Jay’s, publishing company. Iyanla Vanzant will come to your home and fix your life right at your kitchen table. Rachael Ray has the amazing gift of cooking you up a meal and talking your head off at the same time. She’s just amazing, folks. And last, but certainly not least, Dr. Oz will fix your heart and send you into an anxiety attack with his rushed speech and sense of urgency. Doc, I’m really gonna need you to slow down before watching you again, okay?

When you think about it, Oprah is…like…Jesus. She’s got herself a flock and her flock has a flocka folk following them. On Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. You name it. She took Jesus at his word and became fruitful by spreading the good word. I mean, her word must be good to have all these followers…like…Jesus. Verily, verily I say unto you, folks, I reckon if you’re a follower, you’re…ahem…a…worshipper.

I’m not sure how many disciples Oprah has. Probably twelve. I’m not rightly sure. You tell me, okay? And you know what else? All of Oprah’s disciples write books, same as what Jesus’ disciples did.

Look, I’m not here to judge ye, throw stones or anything of that nature. It just so happens that God spake these words unto me to put it out to you, alright?

He Told It on the Mountain

"James Baldwin" Watercolor on paper. Copyright 2013 Totsymae

“James Baldwin” Watercolor on paper. Copyright 2013 Totsymae

I used to read James Baldwin in high school. I didn’t understand much about what I read but I did with time and age. I’d long before discovered other African-American writers in 7th grade. When I came upon them, because they weren’t introduced to me early on in school, I thought I came upon a gold mine.

Now, Baldwin was quite eloquent with language. I thought I was smart for reading his work. He was also the writer to challenge Maya Angelou to write her biography as literature. She met the challenge and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was born.

My aunt, whose husband was in the military, met Baldwin in Paris, where he relocated. He was downright tired of the racism in America and lived out his days in France. I don’t know if my aunt was at his apartment or where she was when she met him. I knew that must’ve been a treat for her because she was sharp and worked at the Library of Congress where folk register their titles.

If you think you might delve into Baldwins’ work, try If Beale Street Could Talk, which I found to be an easier read than his later works. You may also be interested in his essays. Folk who read essays are real smart, I think. I read them sometimes, therefore, I’m smart some of the time too.

I’m not sure when Baldwin appeared on this particular episode of Dave Cavett’s show. He was, however, speaking for the time. Not only was Mr Baldwin a novelist and essayist, he also wrote plays. One was entitled Go Tell It on the Mountain.

You can learn more about James Baldwin at Biography.com.