Oprah Winfrey: If You Use The N-Word Around Me, “You Cannot Be My Friend”
Oprah Winfrey told the upcoming Parade, if you use the N-word around her, “You cannot be my friend.” The former talk show host spoke to the magazine, alongside her The Butler co-star Forest Whitaker and the film’s director Lee Daniels, about the upcoming movie and racism. In the film, Whitaker plays Cecil Gaines, a butler who worked in the White House from the Eisenhower through Reagan administrations, and witnessed the civil rights movement and assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Winfrey stars as Gaines’ wife.
During the interview, Whitaker said, “I don’t use the [N] word. Never did,” but Daniels admitted, “It’s a word I used quite a bit, until Oprah sat me down and talked to me about its power.” Winfrey noted, “You cannot be my friend and use that word around me,” and explained, “I feel strongly about it… I always think of the millions of people who heard that as their last word as they were hanging from a tree.”
On the subject of racism, Whitaker said, “I’ve had many incidents… been thrown on the ground. I’ve been frisked. I’ve been arrested so many times I couldn’t tell you.” And Daniels told the magazine that he sends his white assistant out in New York “to get a taxi because I can’t.”
So, asked Winfrey, “Do we live in a land where Martin Luther King’s dream has been ultimately fulfilled? No. Has part of the dream been fulfilled?” “Yes,” answered Daniels. Still, Winfrey said today’s young people know “diddly-squat” about the civil rights movement, which is why people “need to see” The Butler. What do you think of Winfrey’s comments?