As a Star Trek fan, I enjoyed the character of Guinan, the mysterious but wise hostess of the Ten Forward lounge on the starship Enterprise D captained by Jean Luc Picard. Guinan was always good for a word of advice, sometimes treading on counselor Deanna Troi’s job function. But nevertheless, the character of Guinan, played by Whoopi Goldberg, was a welcome addition to the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast.
However, as a person I have never been a fan of Caryn Elaine Johnson, the woman better known as Whoopi Goldberg. The woman burst onto the scene in the early eighties and has never done anything to affiliate herself with the black community. She talked her then boyfriend Ted Danson to show up at a news conference in black face and laughed at the slight to the black community despite the obvious lack of taste or of good racial sense. And when people, black and white alike, express outrage at her tasteless prank the ditsy broad has the nerve to get upset.
The closest Ms. Johnson/Goldberg has ever come to portraying a positive relationship with a black person was the suggestion of a lesbian affair with the recovering alcoholic Shug Avery, played by Margaret Avery, in the movie The Color Purple. However, Ms. Johnson/Goldberg has portrayed a number of positive relationships with white men in movies like Jumping Jack Flash working to help rescue the British secret agent Jack, Made in America where her daughter was fathered by Ted Danson, Corrina Corrina where she developed a relationship with the widowed father played by Ray Liotta, and Fatal Beauty where she developed a relationship with Sam Elliot’s character Mark Marshak. And let’s not forget the cozy relationship she developed with Captain Picard, played by Patrick Stewart, on the Star Trek series. There’s plenty of evidence of Ms. Johnson/Goldberg distancing herself from the black community and embracing the dominant culture.
By just about any conceivable measure, Ms. Johnson/Goldberg has enjoyed a very successful career. At one time she was one of the hottest commodities in the entertainment industry. She was so hot that the people who call the shots at the Oscars wanted Ms. Johnson/Goldberg to host their show. She became the first African American to host the Oscars. She became the first woman to host the Oscars. She became the first African American woman to host the Oscars. She was the first Oscar winner to host the Oscars. She hosted the Oscars four different times, that’s one in every twenty shows. And yet, her achievements don’t make the cut as a significant event worth mentioning in a short mosaic dedicated to some of the greatest moments in Oscar history.
The oversight was taken personally and Ms. Johnson/Goldberg had to visibly fight back the tears of disappointment during a recent episode of The View. Somebody made the point that other host didn’t appear in the tribute. Steve Martin didn’t make the cut. But then again, Mr. Martin’s appearance as a two times Oscar host didn’t simultaneously break through racial and gender barriers as well. There was an apology from Oscar producer Gil Cates. And that made things all better for most people. However, it was obvious that Ms. Johnson/Goldberg found the apology significantly inadequate.
But there is a chance for Ms. Johnson/Goldberg to learn an important lesson here. In her perpetual push to align herself with the dominant community Ms. Johnson/Goldberg has divorced herself from the black community and has forgotten her roots. What goes around comes around and Ms. Johnson/Goldberg got a very public come around. Maybe at the next Oscars, somebody like Ted Danson will go up on stage in black face and locks and call themselves Whoopi Goldberg. I’m sure that would be good for a solid laugh or two by somebody. This black woman has spent practically her entire life chasing her dreams of assimilation in the dominant community and is now upset with the dominant community because it didn’t give her the recognition she felt she deserved for being so loyal to the status quo.
Ms. Johnson/Goldberg worked hard to pull herself up by her bootstrap. She paid her dues and did whatever it took to gain the attention of the public. She turned her back on black America a long time ago and never looked back. As a formerly hot commodity she has cooled off considerably. People don’t even bother to notice her accomplishments any more. It’s almost as if she has to face facts and come to terms with the condition of being black in America. It is disappointing when you look back on your career and know that you have made so many notable accomplishments. But those accomplishments don’t mean a thing when you’re competing to be noticed with the more readily identifiable members of the dominant community who claim to be racially generic but are predominantly white. The fact that Ms. Johnson/Goldberg was overlooked is remarkably similar to the way she has overlooked the African American community. Some of us may call it karma.