Hey Y’all, Oprah Called Me. » VSB

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Hey Y’all, Oprah Called Me.

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How (sur) real is…this?

I don’t have a bucket list. I’ve never taken the time to think of things I wanted to do before I move into that deluxe apartment in the sky. But that didn’t stop me from recently adding an item to my bucket list, then checking it off because holy shit, that really happened.

And what happened? If you read the title then you’re probably ahead of me, but yes, it’s true, Oprah Winfrey, of Oprah Winfrey fame, personally called me, to tell me that she doesn’t know me, but she loves me, and then describe to me how something I wrote moved her to tears.

Buckest list outchea lookin’ like: Get a call from Oprah Winfrey telling me that she loves me

We outchea.

I can hear you looking at me. You don’t believe me. That’s alright. I’ve got the receipts. See…

…actually, I wrote a song about it, like to hear it, here it go:

A few weeks back, I watched an episode of Queen Sugar and it hit me in the feels. I wrote a piece about it alluding to as much. As we do with some VSB pieces, I wrote it up, put my name on it, and sent it to The Root. Sometimes they take our pieces and publish them (sometimes they don’t), then we’ll publish them on VSB shortly after, which happened in this case.

Anyway, I wrote the piece, The Root rooted it, and then I got an email from our editor at The Root telling me that somebody at OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network) read my piece, loved it, and wanted to get in touch with me. Because I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to do business with networks (I’ve actually done quite a bit more work than I realized with television networks), I fired off an email to the contact hoping to find a way to help push a show that I absolutely love.

I love Queen Sugar.

Anyway, a few back, back, forth and forth emails were exchanged and I shipped over my phone number expecting a phone call that afternoon to talk about ways that I, and VSB, might be able to work with OWN in support of Queen Sugar.

An hour later, my cell phone rings and its “Unknown”.

We don’t answer those.

So I let it bounce, rock, skate, and roll, and then a voicemail popped up. I ain’t know if it was Sallie Mae, one of her cousins, or one of your cousins who has one of those telemarketer jobs who keeps calling me about some survey that I refuse to take about that thing I don’t do. Your cousins need to cut it.

I paid it no mind and then I realized, hey, maybe that was the folks from OWN calling and maybe their switchboard sends out an “Unknown” ID talk or something. Yo no se. So I picked up my phone and checked the voicemail and heard this:

“Panama? It’s Oprah Winfrey. Calling to tell you: I don’t know you, but I love you. You know why?…”

For a minute and thirty-five seconds, Oprah Winfrey PERSONALLY told me why she loved an article I wrote. And not just like, “yo P, dope article.” No, she broke it down. She explained why what I wrote touched her, her feelings about the particular scene on a societal scale, and even told me that I must be a good person for having seen and felt what I did after watching that scene.

Bruh.

I put the phone down and said, “no fucking way.”

I listened to it again trying to make sure I wasn’t getting punked by some kind of Oprah dialer that calls everybody and tells them the same thing. But the voice. Like, who doesn’t know Oprah’s voice? I told my girl. Then I told Damon. Then I told everybody. I sent the voicemail to my family. I told all my close friends. I emailed it to myself and promised that I’d transcribe the words and put them on my wall.

I got messages from my boys that said things like, “This is one of the top 5 greatest things to happen in my life and it didn’t even happen to me.”

I feel you, bro. I feel you.

Bruh. Oprah Winfrey actually called me and left me a voicemail to tell me how much she loved something that I wrote.

Stick a fork in me. I’m done.

Here lies Panama. Except he’s telling the truth. Because receipts. Thank you, Mr. Voicemail function. I always knew you’d come in handy despite the fact that I rarely check you.

VSB. We won.

There are a few takeaways here:

1. No, I didn’t actually talk to her. It’s a double edged-sword really. I, now, have this voicemail forever and it is a receipt that Oprah, did, indeed call me and thought enough to leave such a long and thoughtful message. But I didn’t actually TALK to her. Had I answered the phone and had that convo with her, none of you would ever believe me. And I know this to be true because I’m not sure that I’d believe me. But now, I have proof. Forever. Thank you, Oprah. It would have been nice to actually talk to Oprah, though, and let her know that when I tell this story in public I will refer to her as Auntie Oprah. I feel like if Oprah calls you, you call her Auntie.

2. I wager that Oprah knows how important she is. She seems awfully down to Earth, but she can’t NOT know how significant she is. I wonder if the article was passed off to her and she said, “get me his number, I’d like to change his life today.” Like, if you’re Oprah, you can’t NOT know that calling somebody is going to have that effect, right? It’s not just a phone call when it comes from Oprah. Like, short of Barack and Michelle, who the hell else could cause the kind of commotion in ANY Black person’s life that ensued once I told folks (and shared the voicemail) that Oprah called? Folks in my family in Georgia shared it at Thanksgiving and I wasn’t even there. My friends sent it to other friends. Folks were listening multiple times pretending to be forensic vocalologists which I’m pretty sure isn’t a thing but is now because Oprah called me and I mean, anything is possible, now, right? For everybody that knows me, I pretty much don’t have to achieve shit else. If I got a tattoo that said, “Mama, I Made It” right now would anybody really dispute the veracity of said statement? I think not.

3. You really never know who is reading what you write, writer people. Let this be some motivation for you. And I mean this from the heart. I didn’t write that piece thinking Oprah, or anybody at OWN, would actually read it. I wrote it because the scene actually affected me. I decided that I was going to give it some country because I don’t think enough people are talking about Queen Sugar (or Insecure, honestly), and I wanted to do my part. Because I consume so much pop culture, when something worthy of note occurs, I like to comment on it. It’s a perk of running a site like this; I have an open platform to write about whatever I want.

Thing is, we never know who is reading. We’ve been fortunate to know that several famous people read VSB. Many have retweeted our articles. Some have threatened legal action. Folks even have written personal DMs. The world we live in makes that type of thing possible. So keep that in mind, all you writers out there: even somebody as perennially busy as Oprah Winfrey might be reading. If that isn’t motivation to hit the keys, I don’t know what is.

4. This will be a bit sobering, but this is part of life and I’d wager goes the same for many of us in the creative endeavors. Despite all of the accolades we’ve received here at VSB (awards, articles, features) my family really doesn’t seem to give a shit until something like this happens. That’s no shade to them; in many ways, I understand. Being a blogger/writer is like being a “rapper”. When we dropped a book, I’m not sure my family cared until I ended up on BET and they could see, “hey, this is legit, he’s on television because of something he did.” My family still dines out on that one. I’m not sure most folks in my immediate family read my articles or even know the URL. I mean that honestly.

But when something happens in a forum they’re familiar with (Oprah, television, newspaper, etc), then they’re super excited. And I live for those moments when I know my parents, especially, see that something I did garnered the type of attention in a forum they recognize as legit. I know my dad listened to that voicemail and smiled and felt proud. And that makes me happy. I remember going to Damon’s wedding and realizing how many folks in his family were up on VSB to the point that they knew who I was, like were a rock star duo. I thought that was the most awesome shit. Ever. I don’t get that in my family. Partially because I come from a family with a fairly disproportionate number of professional athletes and even some entertainers you know of, but also because this is creative endeavor space where the accolades really mount up when you hit it big. But to know that I got that smile because OPRAH though enough of something I did, means a lot to me. Thanks, Oprah.

5. Oprah has my number. Call me, Almond.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • TeeChantel
  • Junegirl627

    Congrat-U-Freaking-lations!!!!

    No lie! I was doing what I normally do at work. I got a good hour and 45 minutes of hardcore non stop productivity at the desk and then said “let me pause for a second and see what’s going on in VSB” I read this headline sat up straighter and began to read with the biggest smile on my face. I’m only halfway done reading this and I had to stop for a second and scroll down to the comments and say WOW!!! This is the big up of all big ups!!! congrats!

  • Other_guy13

    Okay, being that y’all becoming like fam, this made my day. Seriously, I’m over here mad I didn’t get a promotion (another one) and I get to see my extended team winning. Keep up the good work PJ and Dayomn….y’all giving me hope that these dreams of mine will come true. https://67.media.tumblr.com/5371ef75cd4d8c99f20ff90a78570d03/tumblr_n0ycp6uNJr1qzvnuuo1_500.gif

  • Junegirl627

    How crazy would it be if Auntie Oprah is a lowkey lurker with a fake avatar and has been commenting on VSB all along… Jussayin

    • That would be scary considering how I interact with some commenters. Heck, I was surprised when that high ranking politico with Obama’s PAC interacted with me, and knew I was a libertarian. Like WTF? People actually care about what I rant about at work on my downtime? LOL

      • Junegirl627

        Wait when did Obama PAC hit you up on here, and where was I? I pay attention to what you say so I should’ve spotted that one.

        • There was a commenter named Jacqueline that hit me up during a few of the political posts who was high up in Organizing for America. That shocked the sh*t out of me, like wha?

          • Junegirl627

            nice!!

      • Negro Libre

        Lol reminds me of how I got recruited to write for some blogs/journals from here, and turned it down because they wanted me to reveal my true identity. I was like nah, I already get enough spam email as is, including some from Prince Uches of the world. I ain’t about that life.

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      Then she should have been DMing me eons ago. I been looking to get chose…all the crazy sh*t I type.

      • Junegirl627

        If Oprah hits you up…. I might look beyond my own selfish needs and let you go to Oprah. “might”

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          Steadman 2.0

          No enhancement needed.

    • NonyaB?

      I’d believe it. I remember in earlier net days, Halle Berry said she used to join up sites and comment and once or twice, even said who she was but nobody believed her.

    • StillSuga

      *insert Weebay meme* Yooooooooooooooo

    • miss t-lee

      I also had this thought…lol

    • HoneyRose

      I choose to believe in this

      • MsCee

        Can we just count this as an actual fact?

    • Nik White

      That would be everything to the 11th power!

    • HouseOfBonnets
    • Blueberry01

      Yo, that’s crazy, but it’s not impossible.

    • So are you saying we show our whole ayuses in front of Auntie Oprah? lmao

      • Junegirl627

        aaaaaye

        Who knows. OMG imagine if her and Gail are on here lurking. I don’t know about you but I’ve gotten multiple likes on comments i’ve made by people who never engage in the actual conversations. Shiiii that’s how I started out on this site before I went all the way keyboard assassin.

      • MsCee

        ***Holds head in shame***

  • fedup

    Well, I’m gon tell people I know you. Cause I’m one of the lucky 2 mil.

    And, “WE” got a call from Oprah. Cause I’m Black. This above article is now my receipt. Thank you PJ. All the feels.

    You win, man.

    *Edit: Also, did yall notice the lil plant to this article in Damon’s one about the WaPo post? That was real cute. Gettin to be like comic book movies up in here. Now I gotta go back and re-read some of the past articles to see if there were other Easter eggs planted.

    • Les Vegas

      “We” got a call from Oprah! LOL.

  • TeeChantel

    So, Dontavious, what are you going to do next?

    • panamajackson

      I’m going to Disney World.

  • HoobaStankyLeg

    You know what? I wondered why we weren’t doing Queen Sugar like we did Atlanta. However, I also know that the world doesn’t revolve around me, so I never questioned it. But we should high key cover this next season. This show is brilliant! That said, Congrats! I’m loving all this good news. Glad to know my decision to shut down was premature at best cause Lordt knows I’da missed y’all.

    • cyanic

      Easier to cover a 30 minute esoteric comedy than convince most of our male readers that Queen Sugar isn’t a show simply for your mother.

      • HoobaStankyLeg

        This is true. Yet and still, a good show is a good show. I was more surprised that men were watching Insecure to be honest. Maybe we’ve all underestimated each other.

        • cyanic

          Insecure offered HBO uncensored blackness for 30 minutes.

          • HoobaStankyLeg

            Well, I’d live tweet Queen Sugar, that’s how I knew there were plenty men watching. With shorter shows you kinda have to pay closer attention. *Shrugs* But I get what you’re saying.

            • cyanic

              I’ve been reluctant to watch Queen Sugar because the tone felt conversational and feminine. And I’m gay. You’d think I’d prefer the gentle stuff?

              • HoobaStankyLeg

                That’s interesting. I found the series to be emotional, not feminine. But then I again I don’t equate emotional or conversational to being feminine either. I didn’t get ‘feminine’ from this series at all… But by the same token, I kinda get what you’re saying… I think. ?

                • cyanic

                  Ava DuVernay does not shy away from femininity in her work. It is a means to expressing herself alongside her blackness.

                  • HoobaStankyLeg

                    Oh, I know. But it seems to me that most shows that cater to that feminine aspect don’t seem to flesh out male characters in the same way they do the females. The male characters are just as layered as the females to me in this. I thought you were saying it would be geared more toward women. So no, I didn’t understand what you were saying. lol Looks like I’ll be having another one of my trash days after a sleepless night. Forgive me?

                    • cyanic

                      All the programming on OWN is geared towards women because they’re Oprah’s primary demographic. I usually don’t care if men are thinly drawn fictional characters as long as they make sense to me within the frame work of the story being told.

                    • HoobaStankyLeg

                      Ah! Now that makes perfect sense. What’s funny is Queen Sugar is the only show on OWN I’ve really been able to get into. I just realized that I am actually not big on television that is geared toward women… Actually, I guess I’m not really big on television all together. But if a show can hold my attention long enough to get me through at least 2 episodes, I’m there.

                    • cyanic

                      Tyler Perry is responsible for the bulk of scripted programming on the channel so it’s understandable why you were unable to partake it what it had to offer.

                    • MsSula

                      I actually liked Greenleaf. Some things I could have done without, but I think overall it was a very competent show – doing very well what it was supposed to do.

                    • HoobaStankyLeg

                      I tried to watch the first episode and it just didn’t grab me. Maybe I’ll try it again once I can binge it.

                    • Cleojonz

                      “I just realized that I am actually not big on television that is geared toward women.” This is true for me too. Also I think I just lose interest in shows that are serial in nature or follow a particular timeline. I prefer stuff like Elementary where an episode is the end of the story and it doesn’t matter if I skip a week or two.

                    • HoobaStankyLeg

                      I may have to give this show a try. I’m not really big on TV. I realized I only watched maybe 5 shows out of the hundreds channels on TV. It’s boring and repetitive. We went ahead and cut the cord about 6 months ago. I’d much rather buy the shows I actually want to see than pay for programming I have no interest in.

                    • Cleojonz

                      The only show I have watched a full season of this year is Luke Cage. I will probably finish Insecure too. I’m about halfway through and they haven’t reached the finale yet. I watch food Network, Vice (which you can watch online on their website) and HGTV more than anything else – all stuff that follows no order and I can catch an episode or not and it won’t matter. I can understand you cutting the cord. It’s a lot of channels with still nothing really on.

                    • HoobaStankyLeg

                      Exactly. I’ve taken to pulling out my old DVD and having them on for background noise. There is nothing really on that holds my attention. I’m trying to find some shows to get into though. I’m really trying.

              • NomadaNare

                LOL @ *felt conversational and feminine*

                I often chuckle to myself about how often a turn of phrase or facial expression drives key plot points

                I dont find it feminine per se but I do think it is a show which will appeal primarily to women

              • NonyaB?

                That’s an interesting statement. Why would you expect to “prefer the gentle stuff” just because you’re gay? I’ve lately been thinking of s*xuality, gender and social preferences as a multidimensional matrix, with different potential combinations. E.g. Male B x traditionally masculine appearance (tall and muscled) x gay x preference for sports (rugby) x hobbies viewed as traditionally feminine (gardening roses).

                • cyanic

                  Humanity has endless combinations of everything.

        • MsSula

          My husband actually gravitated more towards Insecure than Atllanta… Go figure. Then again, he never lived in the US per se so Atlanta might be a bit more difficult for an outsider to grasp, whereas Insecure has that “universal” appeal.

          • cyanic

            Is your husband a foreigner?

            • MsSula

              I am not American either – so technically, we are both “foreigners” :-)

              • cyanic

                Okay. American arrogance on my end assuming everyone here is American unless they say otherwise.

                • MsSula

                  It actually makes sense to assume that. So no worries there. Lol.

                  • cyanic

                    What part of the world are you from?

                    • MsSula

                      West Africa. More precisely Ivory Coast (and Ghana to some extent).

                    • Nik White

                      What do you think of An African City?

                    • MsSula

                      I personally did not like it. But then a friend said it was probably a case of “Hit Dog Hollers” whereas I felt ashamed of the depiction (because it suited me and my friends) and therefore I didn’t like it. All that to say that I am not sure that I am objective, but I found the series too superficial and using a lot of stereotypes as a crutch. The story didn’t necessarily need the stereotypes, or the outlandish willingness to be SATC – Azonto Edition.

                      My circle of friends and I are in ways similar to these ladies (returnees, with International degrees and work experience) but the chance to have a nuanced conversation about the complexity of our choices/decisions was missed.

                      But the outfits were fiyah though! Loll.

          • Epsilonicus

            I am born in US and find Insecure not universal but find Atlanta more familiar.

            • Scorpiogoddess??

              Noooooo. Atlanta is stereotypical from an international lense. Just no.

              • Epsilonicus

                How so?

                • Scorpiogoddess??

                  Young black men rapping….

            • MsSula

              Atlanta plays on a lot of things that only a Black person in America (North in general) might detect. Some are clearly spelled out, but the transcendance of the show lies in its crevices – the places that you and I (Black inhabitants of America) have experienced and dealt with. Many others will see and understand the meat of it, but we will be able to sniff out the particular spice used.

              (Can you tell I really dig Atlanta? Loll)

              • Epsilonicus

                Oh can tell lol

          • HoobaStankyLeg

            This is excellent to read! I’m happy men and women have enjoyed all this new culture to be honest. But I really wasn’t sure whether or not men would gravitate to Insecure. The first few episodes, it seems like a lot of men weren’t really that into it.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Interesting perspective.

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        Because that show is dry.

        It’s good. It’s just dry. You either got the feeling for it or you don’t.

        • Scorpiogoddess??

          I dislike it.

  • I’m definitely impressed Panama. You is kind. You is important. And people actually give a F about this site that really MATTER. This is good.

    That said, I wonder how many of the regular commenters are celebrities based off of this. Oh, and for anyone reading, if you jack my story for a novel, I want 20% royalties, mmkay! :)

    • Junegirl627

      Word if any fictional character gets beat with a can or ravioli on TV i’m suing!!!

      • Cleojonz

        One of the best stories on here evah!

        • Junegirl627

          nah it is nowhere near best ever, but I did make alot of friends on here off of sharing that lil piece of my past, lol.

          • Cleojonz

            It gives such a great visual though. I could totally see teenaged you doing this.

            • Junegirl627

              shiiii I can see grown me do. Y’all know I have not developed a lick a sense.

        • Blueberry01

          YUP!

      • NonyaB?

        Listen. We need to that scene play out in one of the current or upcoming Black shows. That story was gold!

        • Junegirl627

          aye gimme a check and i’m all for it

    • cyanic

      If I ever write about men in the underground performing arts. I’m using you as an avatar.

      • The Underground Performing Arts? ROTFLMAO! I’m stealing that term though. :)

        • Blueberry01

          I don’t get it…what’s UPA?

    • MsCee

      Right, I’m really impressed. Like I know Oprah is really conscious and socially aware but to think that she’s sitting around reading and actually pondering upon and developing thoughts about pieces written by people she’s probably never heard of. She could sit on her thrown and not be bothered but nah, she out her getting her some of this VSB life.

      • Vanity in Peril

        Lissen, I write the Atlanta recaps. I’ve also been writing to Oprah since I was 10 yrs old (for $, always for money)

        Come thru, Harpo, is what I’m saying.

        • Scorpiogoddess??

          Wait. Hold up.

    • Asiyah

      I want to know the celebs who’ve threatened legal action!

      • Cleojonz

        Me too! It’s like don’t get into entertainment if your skin is that thin.

      • TheUnsungStoryteller

        Donald Trump???

      • Janelle Doe

        Qtna… Other than Drake and the actress in Girls; I really couldn’t think of who this might be.

    • Deeds

      You betta get a lawyer now, just in case.

  • MsCee

    You about to bloowwwwww uppppp!!! Congrats…also, I’m in agreement with the whole Auntie Oprah thing. Oprah, if you’re reading this, we love you auntie!

  • NomadaNare

    Congratulations

    *Vows to step my game up to PJ and Champ levels*

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