February 26, 2007, - 12:51 am

So, This is Black History?: Tyra’s Bikini & Oprah’s School

By Debbie Schlussel
It’s supposed to be Black History Month.
So why are the most prominent, influential Black Americans focusing on themselves instead of real Black contributions to America?
Take Tyra Banks. The Victoria’s Secret lingerie model is now, unfortunately, a popular daytime talk show host and fancies herself an important Black leader. Her ratings seem to confirm that.
On her show, she marked what she considers the most important moment in American Black history: her 1997 star turn, donning a bikini as the first Black model on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

tyrabankssicover.jpgharriettubman.jpg

Silicone Implants v. Slaves’ Freedom: Which is the Real Black History?

Banks claimed that this served as an important inspiration for America’s Black women and opened up important opportunities for them they never had before.
Yes, forget about Harriet Tubman. And Sojourner Truth, too. Who needs them, when the newly-minted greatest woman in American Black history is the hostess of America’s Next Top Model, now casting for Season Nine? Freeing slaves? That’s nothing compared to the woman who tells America to “Kiss my fat Black ass.”
Then, there’s Oprah Winfrey. She, too, has Tyra Banks disease. Or more likely, Tyra got Oprah disease.
How does Oprah celebrate Black History Month? She’s celebrating it by showing America all about “me, me, me.” With tonight’s primetime TV special on ABC, Oprah celebrates her new school in South Africa bearing her name.
But the school has nothing to do with Black history and everything to do with Oprah’s ever-growing ego and new brand of acceptable racism.
The school of 152 girls has only one White student, the token who’s been bandied about for all the world to see. Since Oprah personally handpicked the students out of more than 3,500 applicants, that should tell you something about Oprah. And Oprah told us more: “I don’t have to please the White people of America,” she told E! Entertainment upon the opening of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.
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Where’s Waldo?: Token White Oprah School Student (behind Oprah)

Then, there’s the way Oprah picked the students, aside from the apparent color scheme. Newsweek detailed the “leadership” Oprah employed from the start.
“You’re so skinny in person!” remarked one applicant to Oprah. She was admitted. Ditto for Lesego Tlhabanye, who blurted:

“Do you spend $500 to get your eyebrows done?” Oprah laughed–and admitted her to the school. A girl with moxie is exactly what she’s looking for. . . . One girl, Thelasa Msumbi, held on extra tight [while hugging Oprah], then whispered in Oprah’s ear: “We are your daughters now.” Winfrey smiled. And yes, Thelasa got admitted.

Sorry. That’s not Black history. Or leadership. It’s just Oprah ego-ism.
It’s sad that instead of racism and self-conceit, Oprah and Tyra don’t tell their audiences–Black and White–the real American Black history, which doesn’t include them.
Blacks were among the founding fathers of several western cities, including Los Angeles. Forget Beverly Hills cop. Maria Rita Valdez, a Black woman, owned Rancho Rodeo Las Aguas, which became Beverly Hills. William Alexander Leidesdorff, introduced the first steamboat, hotel, and public school to San Francisco. Bose Ikard helped blaze the Goodnight-Loving Trail that led out West from Texas.
Oprah and Tyra don’t come even close to the heels of these great Americans.
Or to York, Lewis and Clark’s slave and guide, instrumental to their famous expedition. Or Black businessmen Barney Ford and Henry O. Wagoner, instrumental to founding and developing Colorado, according to 1895′s “History of the State of Colorado.”
Or George Washington Bush, who helped the U.S. stake claims to the Oregon Territory by settling Puget Sound. Oprah and Tyra probably remain ignorant of Congressional Medals of Honor earned by the brave all-black Buffalo Soldiers and the Ninth Cavalry, which rescued late General Custer’s 7th Cavalry, when they were trapped during an engagement.
They did these things without affirmative action, government handouts, or minority set-asides. They did this when times were far more difficult for Blacks in America. And they did this without self-anointed talk-show leaders and lingerie and bikini models pretending to be their leaders.
That’s the real Black history. “Knowledge of a proud past will set the stage for a bright future for African-American and … all Americans,” says Charles A. Green, founder of the Old Wild West African-American Hall of Fame. But as late Detroit Mayor Coleman Young (with whom I rarely agreed) observed, “As black people we don’t appreciate our history. We don’t even know our history.”
Just the way Oprah and Tyra like it.

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16 Responses

you must be the lightest skinned black history expert of all time. keep up the good work!
ONLY BLACK PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT BLACK HISTORY? GEE, YOU’RE NOT A RACIST, HUH? HMM . . . MAYBE TYRA’S VERSION OF BLACK HISTORY–THE SI BIKINI COVER–IS THE ACCURATE ONE, AND I’M WRONG. IS THAT WHAT YOU THINK? IF NOT, THEN I THINK I’VE DISPROVED YOUR BIGOTED POINT. AND BY THE WAY, I NEVER CLAIMED TO BE AN EXPERT ON THE TOPIC, BUT I SURE KNOW MORE ABOUT IT THAN TYRA OR OPRAH.
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

sefalese on February 26, 2007 at 1:40 am

Debbie-
sefalese could be sincere.
Excellent posting.

Red Ryder on February 26, 2007 at 8:44 am

Custer’s 7th Cavalry (the remnants of the Little Bighorn battle) who were trapped on Reno Hill for two days were rescued when the Indians withdrew due to the fact that troops led by General Terry and Colonel Gibbon were approaching. There were no “Buffalo” soldiers in the relief column. Buffalo soldiers did however fight in the Southwest against the Apaches and Commanches.
RIPPER:
GLAD YOU CAUGHT THIS ERROR, WHICH WAS IN THREE OF MY SOURCES. IN DOING FURTHER RESEARCH, THEY DID RESCUE CUSTER’S 7TH CAVALRY (IN 1868), BUT NOT FROM SITTING BULL (AND I HAVE AMENDED THE COLUMN ACCORDINGLY). SEE THIS LINK, FOR EXAMPLE:
http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:97KrZciAPUIJ:www.buffalosoldier.net/+%22buffalo+soldiers%22+%22custer&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us
“Lieutenant-Colonel George Armstrong Custer’s first encounter with Indians results in the killing of Chief Black Kettle and his wife. Close to 100 more women, children and elders were also killed. Custer actively campaigned to stop African-Americans from getting the vote. When he was given a commission with the Buffalo Soldiers of the Ninth U.S. Cavalry, he refused to accept it. (To their good fortune). He was not the only officer to refuse a commission. Ironically, these very same Buffalo Soldiers ended up rescuing Custer and his command when he and his men were pinned down during an engagement.”
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

Ripper on February 26, 2007 at 8:47 am

A history of the 9th Cavalry
http://www.9thcavalry.com/timeline.htm#1870
http://www.9thcavalry.com/utah.htm
As you can see, they were no where near Custer and the 7th Cavalry in 1876.
RIPPER:
GLAD YOU CAUGHT THIS ERROR, WHICH WAS IN THREE OF MY SOURCES. IN DOING FURTHER RESEARCH, THEY DID RESCUE CUSTER’S 7TH CAVALRY (IN 1868), BUT NOT FROM SITTING BULL (AND I HAVE AMENDED THE COLUMN ACCORDINGLY). SEE THIS LINK, FOR EXAMPLE:
http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:97KrZciAPUIJ:www.buffalosoldier.net/+%22buffalo+soldiers%22+%22custer&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us
“Lieutenant-Colonel George Armstrong Custer’s first encounter with Indians results in the killing of Chief Black Kettle and his wife. Close to 100 more women, children and elders were also killed. Custer actively campaigned to stop African-Americans from getting the vote. When he was given a commission with the Buffalo Soldiers of the Ninth U.S. Cavalry, he refused to accept it. (To their good fortune). He was not the only officer to refuse a commission. Ironically, these very same Buffalo Soldiers ended up rescuing Custer and his command when he and his men were pinned down during an engagement.”
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

Ripper on February 26, 2007 at 8:50 am

There were no Buffalo soldiers in the relief columns of Terry and Gibbon (which consisted of the 2nd Cavalry and the 7th infantry). The Buffalo soldiers (9th and 10th cavalry) were not involved (they were in the Southwest at the time not in Montana territory). A lot of politically correct falsehoods make their way into poorly written and researched history books.
See this link
http://www.buffalosoldier.net/
If it makes anyone feel better – Custer had a black man as an interpreter named Isaiah Dorman who was killed in the Reno fight in the valley. Dorman was married to an Indian woman.
RIPPER:
SEE MY RESPONSES TO YOUR TWO COMMENTS ABOVE. BUFFALO SOLDIERS DID RESCUE CUSTER’S SOLDIERS, BUT NOT AT THE TIME AND DATE CITED BY THE SOURCES I USED. FOR THIS FACT, THOUGH, I CITE THE SAME SITE AS YOU–buffalosoldier.net.
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

Ripper on February 26, 2007 at 10:00 am

I saw the promo on TV for Oprah’s Playhouse in South Africa and wanted to hurl. It’s just another “all about me” production. If she’s so damn bent about opening a school for girls, why isn’t her money being spent here? What a crock of shit! Just wondering…where’s Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, and the rest of “Hoods from da’ Hood”? I figured they’d all be fighting for center stage so they can pump their chests talking about Black History (the version THEY wrote) or the plight of the bruthas’.
More PC window-dressing. Pixar should do a new animated move called “The Insatiables” starring cartoon spin-offs of Jesse, Al, and the rest. Perfect title because nothing is good enough for them. Oprah can be cast as the token bitch with the attitude…

Gunny on February 26, 2007 at 10:03 am

I still don’t get the Oprah phenomenon, but then in a culture where Britney Spears and Anna Nicole Smith are famous it’s not that surprising.
BUT!, Trya Banks, as long as she’s not fat, gets my vote as a Black Leader. I’m white and I’d follow her around. I think she should have one of her “Panty Party” shows to celebrate.

Jeff_W on February 26, 2007 at 10:46 am

I don’t understand why these TV/movie stars think that their present fame will somehow reserve a spot in the history books decades from now. Is there a single entertainment figure from before the 20th century that anybody cares about today? Last I checked, it was the George Washingtons and Gallileos and Harriet Tubmans of the world that people study and admire today.
God, I hate Oprah…

Jose on February 26, 2007 at 11:19 am

Hey SEFALESE, guess you don’t watch Jeopardy?
Alan Nadel, in his book “Invisible Criticism,” points out how little Black folk know about their own history…and when one of my homies came to me with the ‘revelation’ that Egypt was in Africa, this in the seventh grade, it kind of amplifies the fact that WE don’t know enough about our own history!!!
Debbie being cognizant of Black history comes as no surprise, although i KNOW half the time i reveal my knowledge of Judaica she’s shocked—but hey, i find nothing unusaul about one set of ex-slaves studying the culture of another.

EminemsRevenge on February 26, 2007 at 11:23 am

Debbie
Thanks for the corrections. Too much P.C. history gets passed off as legit. Remember the PBS documentary “Liberators” which claimed that Black units (the Army was segregated at the times) liberated Dachau? Nothing of the kind happened.

Ripper on February 26, 2007 at 11:52 am

BTW, Tyra Banks did a whole show telling the world that she does NOT have silicone implants. A doctor examined Tyra’s bankables. A great moment in history, I guess.
I researched the origin of “the Big Apple” and gave credit to an African-American stablehand in New Orleans who has still not been honored.

barrypopik on February 26, 2007 at 1:40 pm

Debbie, I too agree that Sefalese was sincere – she wasn’t “dissing” you. As for Oprah, she was quoted in some source – can’t remember at the moment which one – that young blacks in this country (1) wouldn’t appreciate the opportunity that she was offering them and (2) it wasn’t worth her money to spend it on them. I can’t help but agree – Bill Cosby said about the same thing, and got villified for it. As for Black History, being white, I really know only a little about it, but have tried. I’m the only one of my group that has actually read the “Autobiography of Malcolm X” and came from that book admiring him immensely. I believe he deserves far more credit than Martin Luther King. Unfortunately, as some assert, his message was cut short through the manipulations of Farrakan (sp?). As for Tyra, God bless her – granted, she may not be a politician or diplomat, but she has succeeded in the only medium available to her. The fact that she speaks for blacks from her own personal forum may be the only one available to her. Think of it this way – would you accept a history of White (should I say caucasion to be politically correct?) people from the likes of Christie Brinkley or Brittany Spears? I think not, but standing up for your race is admirable regardless of the circumstances. Sometimes I sigh and wish that there were someone out there who had such a forum and stood up for Christians, Jews, and white people, someone with the ability and guts to demonstrate that not all of us are the enemy.

Hilltopbabe on February 27, 2007 at 12:50 am

Thanks! I remeber a show where Oprah came out “screaming” the way only she does, that she donated $10,000 to Katrina victims form her own money. That Sunday I sat next to a single mother in church who supports 3 little one and takes no hand outs, she gave $100.00 and there was no fanfare at all. Guess who did the most?

pamscasa on February 27, 2007 at 7:49 am

My point echoes that of Gunny….where are the normally “outspoken” (open mouth, insert foot) supposed male leaders of the black culture, i.e. Moon Cricket Jesse, Fat Al and Calypso Louie? Well, Calypso Louie was busy shooting off his moronic mouth at his retirement speech. No comments on black history. Only empty-headed vitriol. So, is the black culture any better off if the loud bitches take over? I suppose we should ask the mainstream black culture.
Good work, DebMeister!

9mice on February 27, 2007 at 5:20 pm

Wow! I’m astounded that you felt it necessary to tell us nice “colored” folks how we need to conduct ourselves. This whole jealousy thing that some of you white folks (and blacks) have with Oprah is the real problem here. She doesn’t owe anybody a goddamn thing. If she wants to build a school on Mars with her money, that’s her business. Why don’t you call up Margaret Spellings at the United States Department of Education, or for that matter, that dumb president of ours if you are so concerned about the schools here. Oprah is not a government agency.
Also, how much time and money have you donated to the kids in “da hood” as you so affectionaly put it? Go fuck yourself. Neither myself or any of my other African-Americans need you to tell Oprah, Tyra or Aunt Je-fucking-Mima for that matter how to behave.
And for the record, in this Black History Month, we have had two black coaches in the Superbowl for the first time in over 40 years, two African-Americans won Academy Awards just the other night and, in case you missed that little tidbit and the list goes on and on. It shouldn’t still seem like such a big deal when things of this nature occur, but Black people are still being held back on so many different levels, by folks much like yourself, that in anybody’s book, they are still accomplishments.
I don’t care if you don’t post this either. At least I was able to tell your jealous, bigoted ass how I feel.

SUGAR on March 2, 2007 at 2:21 am

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