It’s touching that Oprah feels sad and devastated about what happened — the abuse and rape — at the Leadership Academy for Girls School she founded at Henley-on-Kilp, South Africa.
When she heard the news a dorm mom sexually assaulted students, Oprah says spent a “half-hour going around my house crying.” It must be how the Pope feels about all those pedophile priests.
Nobody would say that what happened is Oprah’s fault. She invested loads of good will and $40 million into a school she hopes will help disadvantaged South African girls reach achieve their greatest dreams. That’s admirable. Besides, $40 million isn’t chump change — even for a billionaire.
But what bugs me a bit about Oprah’s good intentions is that she picked South Africa as the place to help disadvantaged girls.
Shouldn’t charity begin at home? Or better yet, in Chicago?
Don’t neighborhoods like Roseland and Englewood and K-town — even the Near West Side close to Harpo Studios — have plenty of disadvantaged girls who could use a place like Oprah’s leadership academy.
And the young ladies who live in Chicago public housing — or those displaced when Stateway Gardens came down — what about them? Shouldn’t American’s stars — the rich and powerful people such as Oprah, Sidney Poitier, Spike Lee, Chris Tucker, Tina Turner and Mary J. Blige who backed the South African school — be concerned enough about the people suffering in Chicago’s hoods to make a real effort to help people here.
Maybe that’s the risk of being a filthy rich superstar — you really start to believe that you’re a resident of the world and your global vision, ccidentally of course, blinds you to the trouble lingering in your own front yard. Or maybe I just get tired of reading about celebrities focusing so much of their charity — and adoption — efforts in other parts of the world when neighborhoods here could use the help.
What some of our communities need is a big shot like Oprah or Michael Jordan or Gigi Pritzker or anybody else with the lots of cash and influence to adopt an entire community and help make it a better place.
We need them to get behind a podium next to Mayor Daley and announce that they’re going to invest their money and reputations — not in some faraway land or monument to themselves or over priced kiddie museum — right here in a part of Chicago where people are suffering from the influence of gangs, guns, drugs and poverty.
I know that has nothing to do with the horrible things that happened at the school for the disadvantaged girls of Henley-on-Kilp.
But it’s something I think about from time to time, mostly on nights when the not-so-distant sound of gunfire out my window demands my attention.
What do you think?