As the rain poured outside my balcony, flooding through the streets of Salvador, and inadvertently holding my girlfriend and I captive, I flipped my web browser over to Oprah.com to check out this new craze called Lifeclass. A former Master Class die hard, I was rather disappointed that the Oprah Winfrey Network has yet to produce more episodes and instead, opted to focus all of its energy on this new show. I was holding a grudge, convinced that Oprah could not bring it consistently with the same amount of inspiration and power as multiple voices, including Maya Angelou, Diane Sawyer, and Condoleezza Rice in Master Class. But indeed, she superseded my expectation in the most amazing way and gained a new fan. Not only have I become addicted to Lifeclass, but I’ve also felt nothing but pride seeing her share the stage with another incredible black woman, Iyanla Vanzant.
Truthfully, I was never a fan of the Oprah Winfrey Show, although my respect for Oprah as a media mogul has never wavered. I always felt the show catered to middle-aged women, mostly white and stay-at-home mothers. But perhaps I let the stereotypes influence my judgment, as I frankly only felt compelled to watch the show when a favorite celebrity of mine was on. In contrast, I absolutely adore Iyanla Vanzant. After reading In the Meantime, she felt like an old friend, mother, sister, and best friend all in one. Her words felt authentic, her spirit genuine, and her work an intricate guide for the personal development and welfare of black women.
Iyanla spoke to me. She represented me. She catered to me. Oprah inspired me. She set the bar high. And she spread her work to the masses. When Iyanla used to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show, I felt joy. The two have electric chemistry, laughing together like old sisters and working as partners to change people’s lives. Iyanla’s absence, along with the feud, left me disappointed in the fact that these two powerful women were struggling to put aside their egos, embrace forgiveness, and continue to jointly share their gifts with the universe. After the apology, I am ecstatic to see them back together, teaching the world lessons on wisdom. It makes me incredibly proud to be a black woman and human being working toward self-actualization.
One thing I absolutely love about LifeClass? Two black women are leading the world’s largest virtual classroom. Say it again. What does that symbolize for black women consuming media in the contemporary age? Is this a tipping point? How significant is this representation in diversifying images of black women we see in the media? At times, it feels unbelievable that one of these women actually owns the network hosting the show. And that shift in power, image control, and ownership is very good news for black women. It’s certainly been a long time coming.
Regardless of what it means for black women as a whole, I am thankful that the lessons of Lifeclass surpass race and gender. It is important that black women speak and spread our greatness beyond ourselves. And while we have a long way to go and more faces to expose, thank you, Oprah, for allowing another black woman to share your stage as an equal. I appreciate the other guest hosts, but seeing you and Iyanla teaching side-by-side, once again, delivers hope that the world will see just what black women are capable of in love, strength, and vision.
Do you watch Oprah’s Lifeclass? What do you think so far?