Oprah speaks onstage during ‘Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour’ presented by WW (Weight Watchers Reimagined) on February 29, 2020 in Inglewood, California.
Oprah speaks onstage during ‘Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour’ presented by WW (Weight Watchers Reimagined) on February 29, 2020 in Inglewood, California.
Photo: Emma McIntyre (Getty Images)

Social distancing has added yet another level to the meaning “too much time on your hands.”

Perhaps it was boredom, the super-elite status of the trending celebrity in question or plain cruelty. Maybe it was a mixture of all three. But, something made “Oprah” the top worldwide trending topic on Tuesday night.

I happened to be scrolling my timeline at around 9:30 p.m. PT when I saw the name at the top of that trending list. I immediately expected bad news in relation to COVID-19, especially as we’ve heard back-to-back news of celebrities testing positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus strain. Little did I know the news would be wildly unrelated to that.

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Within minutes (and without one news source, not even TMZ, verifying it), rumors began to spread that the 66-year-old media mogul’s home had been raided and she was subsequently arrested for suspected crimes ranging from sex trafficking to child pornography. The rumors even reached coronavirus conspiracy territory.

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Shortly after the rumors spread like wildfire, Oprah took it upon herself to address them directly.

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“Just got a phone call that my name is trending. And being trolled for some awful fake thing. It’s not true. Haven’t been raided, or arrested. Just sanitizing and self distancing with the rest of the world,” Oprah tweeted, adding safe wishes to everyone.

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So, yes, Oprah likely had to get out of her damn bed to add an official statement on something that never should’ve been a thing in the first place.

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Oprah is certainly not above critique, but the obsession to pin her down is clearly a retaliation for her involvement (directly or indirectly) in the respective retributions of prominent black figures such as the late Michael Jackson, R. Kelly and Russell Simmons.

One of the most common defenses is her longtime association with now-convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein, a man so deeply ensconced in Hollywood that it was nearly impossible for a successful celebrity not to be associated with him. If showcasing pictures with the man throughout the years is the primary defense to pressure black celebrities into speaking out against Weinstein, there certainly is a collection of pictures of black male celebrities with despicable and powerful people being conveniently left out of the narrative. And yet they’re not being expected to be the official spokesperson to discount someone they have been associated with. The onus, like many other burdens, is primarily on black women.

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That targeted fury reignited to an entirely different level after Gayle King dared to discuss the late Kobe Bryant’s rape case during her interview with Lisa Leslie.

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In their attempt to expose Oprah, people only further exposed their petty obsession that has nothing to do with the concern of sexual assault victims and more to do with their goal to have a “gotcha” moment. Let’s say this awful news was true. The reckoning that would have to occur would be devastating on a level that can’t be expressed in the hypothetical sense. Still, the immense glee expressed once they believed the unsubstantiated claims were true coupled with the overt concern for the accused rather than the “real victims” is quite the disturbing compulsion, to say the least. In their game of “tit-for-tat,” the ultimate loser is them.

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Good job.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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