How did Oprah Winfrey achieve transcendence? This is a complex question that has different meanings and implications depending on the context. In this post, we will focus on the idea of racial transcendence, which refers to an elevated status in which evaluations of an individual are no longer shaped by the race of the attitudinal target or the race of the person making the evaluations.

Oprah Winfrey is widely regarded as one of the most influential and successful media personalities in the world. She has built a global empire that spans television, film, books, magazines, podcasts, and philanthropy. She has also been a vocal advocate for social justice, education, health, and wellness. Some observers argue that Oprah Winfrey transcends race, meaning that she is just as likely to receive support from non-Blacks as she is from fellow Blacks. They point to her popularity among diverse audiences, her ability to connect with people from different backgrounds and cultures, and her universal appeal as a source of inspiration and empowerment.

However, this argument may not follow when Oprah moves into the political arena. According to a study by McClerking et al. (2019), Oprah’s endorsement of Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign revealed the fragility of her racial transcendence. The study found that Oprah enjoyed her greatest support among racial fellows, and her favorability flowed along the lines of race and gender: Her greatest supporters were black women. Oprah’s ability to offer political cues also flowed along lines of race and gender: Those most likely to be influenced by her Obama endorsement were black women. The study concluded that Oprah’s racial transcendence was contingent on the context and the issue at hand, and that her political involvement activated racial identities and attitudes among both Blacks and non-blacks.

Therefore, we can say that Oprah Winfrey achieved transcendence in some aspects of her life and career, but not in others. Her transcendence was not absolute or permanent, but rather conditional and situational. Her transcendence was also not necessarily a goal or a desire for her, but rather a perception or a label imposed by others. Ultimately, Oprah Winfrey’s transcendence was a complex and dynamic phenomenon that reflected both her personal achievements and the social realities of race in America.

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