In preparation for the release of Oscar-bait film The Butler, Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, and director Lee Daniels (Precious) sat down with Parade magazine. The film chronicles a butler (Whitaker) who works in the White House through seven administrations. Winfrey plays the butler’s wife. In the interview, Winfrey explained her sadness that so few Americans know about the history of the civil rights movement: “They don’t know diddly-squat. Diddly-squat.” She then said of the historic use of the n-word, “I always think of the millions of people who heard that as their last word as they were hanging from a tree.” Historians at the Tuskegee Institute estimate that approximately 3,446 African-Americans were lynched from 1882-1968.
Whitaker said that he had been the victim of racism: “I’ve had many incidents in my life of racism. I’ve been thrown on the ground. I’ve been frisked. I’ve been arrested so many times I couldn’t tell you. I have no need to talk about it.” Daniels added, “It’s a given. I can’t even get a taxi [in New York]. I send my [white] assistant out to get a taxi because I can’t.” Winfrey then suggested that the “shooting of Trayvon Martin” was a commentary on the value Americans place on black life.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).