Don’t Shut Up. Keep Speaking Your Truth.
By Jennifer Davis-Flynn
Like many Gen X women, I was raised by Oprah.
During my tender middle-school years in the late 80s’, I would settle into the kitchen table after school, with a peanut butter sandwich and glass of milk, and tune into The Oprah Winfrey Show at 4 p.m. With Oprah as my guide, I learned about our society’s most painful problems for the first time: depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, domestic violence, and racism. I watched Oprah banter with female performers I worshipped like Diana Ross, Bette Midler, and Whitney Houston and converse seriously with thought-provoking writers and intellectuals like Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and poet Maya Angelou.
I commiserated with Oprah as she publicly struggled with her weight, just like I did. It was clear to my twelve-year-old self that despite all her success, she didn’t feel like she was good enough. She telegraphed to so many of us: the inherent pain of trying to live up to expectations and always falling short—never quite being worthy of love. But, through it all, she maintained her dignity and projected intelligence and strength under the fierce scrutiny of television lights and tabloids, in a world so hostile to powerful, black women.
Oprah is a seeker – forever on the path of self-knowledge and self-improvement. Later in high school, I would get my first taste of spirituality and mindfulness from Oprah. I learned about self-care, self-compassion, practicing gratitude. She started a book club and got millions of women to read and share their opinions. Oprah was a mentor and a mom to me. A gifted business woman, she built a billion-dollar empire while honestly portraying her struggles, voicing her failures, questioning the status quo, and continually striving to grow smarter, bolder, more loving, and more generous to others.
(And she LOVES dogs.)
So, fast forward to the Golden Globes last week, where Oprah was deservedly presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for “outstanding contributions to the field of entertainment” and gave her now viral acceptance speech stating “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”
It’s our responsibility to seize this moment and keep the #metoo momentum going. Right now, centuries of darkness is coming into the light – so rapidly that the truth is almost blinding. We must keep sharing our stories of sexual abuse, discrimination, and injustice, because for the first time, people are really listening. Men are listening. Your children are listening.
Do. Not. Stop. Keep talking. Keep sharing.
A new day is on the horizon.