A Letter From Tyler Perry On Oprah Winfrey...

Every now & then I like to print things here that have some meaning to me outside of music. The following is a letter from Tyler Perry on being invited to the opening of a new school built by Oprah Winfrey in South Africa... 'It's Sunday morning. I'm sitting here in South Africa watching the sun rise. I'm aware that the time is seven hours ahead of the east coast and that most of America is asleep, but I wish that I could wake you all up to see this. It is so peaceful here. In a few hours I will be heading home and I will take from these ten days a lifetime of memories. It started with the invitation from Oprah to join her here for the opening of her school. I was a little reluctant to come and spend New Year's here because I have been in church every New Year's night since I can remember. Well, I can honestly say that this was truly more spiritual than being in any watch night service that I've ever been in. This entire trip has been unbelievable. From the time that I left, I have been having unforgettable memories. Like, getting to have several conversations with the most eloquent man that I have ever met--Mr. Sidney Poitier. He has so much class and grace. The wisdoms that he left me with on this trip were worth the trip alone. Then getting to this continent and being greeted by African drums? WOW! And the spirit of all the invited guests. It seemed that everybody that I spoke with left me with something that I could use in my life. I know that God was here. The New Year's Eve bash was too much for your senses to take in. I can't even begin to explain how beautiful it was. It started with an African choir singing native songs and then ending with "Amazing Grace" and "Oh Happy Day". It was the clearest night that I had ever seen and with the biggest moon. It was as if God, Himself, wanted to show off the heavens to us. At midnight I stepped away and said a prayer. When I turned around Mary J Blige was taking the stage and she rocked the place. Then there were several impromptu performances--Patti Labelle then Baby Face. He sang "If I Could Change The World". This was all unsolicited mind you. Then India Arie sang, then Tina Turner closed the show with "Simply The Best". I danced until the sun came up. The next day we left Sun City and headed to Johannesburg. We drove through some of the townships. The poverty was heartbreaking, but the children were so happy. Someone said to me, "I wonder what they dream about". It didn't take me long to find out. As many of you know, after educating thousands of children in America, Oprah has opened a school here for girls. And when I saw these children, my God, you had to see their faces and hear their stories to understand. When we got to the school, these girls (12 and 13 years old) talked about how they dreamed about not just becoming doctors and teachers, but discovering the cure for AIDS, or becoming President, or the Minister of Education. I have never in my life seen so much gratitude and so much hope. Then the next day I got to meet Madiba Nelson Mandella! Life changing, life changing is all I can say. I also went to Robben Island and saw where he was in prison. I stood in his cell. I don't think that my life will ever be the same after that visit. I know that this is a long e-mail this time, but hear me when I say this--Let 20007 be the year that you follow your dream. Don't let anybody tell you what you can't do. With the help, grace and favor of God you can live your dream and bring it to pass. Believe in yourself. All of you who have stopped dreaming, go find it, dust it off, get back at it. It's never too late. That dream that has been nagging you and won't let you rest will lead you to your destiny. It's how God moves. Go for it! It is possible! Faith can take you to fruition.. when you believe.' Tyler Naturally (albeit unfortunately), the press is having a field day: 'Jan. 13, 2007 I Winfrey's unguarded comments about the opening of her school revealed the degree to which arguably the most influential woman in the United States is still driven by the specter of her own beginnings as a poor, sexually abused child in Mississippi, and her seemingly endless spiral of desire to set the world right not simply for other young women, but for her own prepubescent self. For a moment, her self-spin veered out of control, and we got a brief snapshot not just of Winfrey's good intentions, but of the loneliness and solitude experienced by a woman who is historically and culturally unique in her power, wealth, life story and position in the world. People magazine described the fluffy duvets that will cover the beds of the girls -- who will pair up in dorm rooms, each of which features a kitchen and a small balcony. CNN reported on the cafeteria's marble tabletops, and Winfrey crowed to every reporter in earshot about how she had chosen "every brick, tile, sheet and spoon" for the school. There are murals and a yoga studio, and trees under which the girls can read, and they will sleep on 200-thread-count sheets. Winfrey told Newsweek, "These girls deserve to be surrounded by beauty, and beauty does inspire." Winfrey might have known that news of her students' swank surroundings might not wash with American critics, who don't bat an eye at white hotel heiresses dancing on banquettes, or reality shows about sweet-16 parties with budgets that could build a home for a Katrina victim. But impoverished black girls sleeping on nice-ish sheets? That didn't go over so well. The affronted sense that these girls deserved only bare-minimum accommodations and that a private citizen's money should have been used to educating them in bulk rather than in gracious individual style reflects our own beliefs that the bare minimum is all poor (black) girls need. And in part, it's surely that kind of attitude that has fueled Winfrey's obsession with aesthetics. She told several publications that South African builders initially sent plans that made the school look like a chicken coop. "It was clear that the attitude was 'These are poor African girls. Why spend all this on them?'" she told Newsweek. "It was unbelievably upsetting." Indeed, criticism of the Leadership Academy's luxury is practically immoral. It's Winfrey's money and should she want to use it to provide six randomly selected babies with a lifetime supply of Rolos, then no one outside of the babies' families and dentists would really be in a morally sound position to object. But that Winfrey did not see this reaction coming, and thus did not temper the admittedly wacky emphasis on the aesthetic and the decorative aspects of her project, is unusually unperceptive. She walked right into this -- with the tawny bricks and embroidered O's -- and in doing so, revealed the extent to which she is still shaped by her own emotional hunger, despite all the money and influence in the world.' Unbelievable, isn't it!? Who gives a damn, really, what her reasons are? I print these excerpts because I am utterly amazed at how racist and small minded people can be, how unforgiving and cruel particularly toward a country that has been through as much as Africa (Rwanda, Darfur..). The woman is singlehandedly changing the face of a nation. To really grasp the magnitude of poverty in South Africa, and what a school like this will mean for underpriveledged families & underserved communities, communities that have been ravaged by their lack of education, aparthied and AIDS please check out the links below: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6224001.stm http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2007-01-02-winfrey-school_x.htm?POE=LIFISVA http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0105/p01s03-woaf.html may you all be inspired, may God bless you Ms. Winfrey.. thank you for reading.. peace&love **stepping down off soap box**