Oprah should trump Donald for the Nobel Peace Prize

This column originally appeared in The Toronto Star on May 13, 2018

Donald Trump is putting in much effort to appear to play it coy in response to supporters championing to see him win a Nobel Peace Prize during his presidency.

When asked whether he thought he deserved the award, the U.S. president said, “Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it.”

Donald Trump Jr. encouraged the growing chatter while tempering expectations with a recent tweet stating “The globalist elite would never give him that win.”

If selected, Trump would be the fifth American President to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, joining Barack Obama, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Jimmy Carter (who received the honour after leaving office).

The Nobel Peace Prize is an honour that I hope forever eludes Donald Trump.

There are thousands of people and organizations that deserve the award ahead of a man using his position to stoke racially motivated fear and hatred among Americans, while personally promoting violence against women.

To be eligible to nominate someone for the award, an individual must be a member of a national assembly of a sovereign state, or the head of state. Also eligible to nominate are members of the International Court of Justice in The Hague and the Permanent Court of Arbitration of The Hague, Members of Institut de Droit International, university professors and professors emeriti and associate professors of history, social sciences, law, philosophy, theology, and religion; university directors, and directors of peace institutes and foreign policy institutes.

Former Nobel Peace Prize winners are also able to nominate, as well as members of boards of directors of organizations who have received the award. Current and former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee as well as former advisers to the Norwegian Nobel Committee are eligible to nominate.

As a part of the decision-making process, information surrounding nominations is kept secret for 50 years. Nominators who choose to make their own nominations public often inform speculation for potential prizewinners.

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 98 times to 131 laureates, among these are 104 individuals and 27 organizations. Only 16 women have been awarded the prize.

Each year the nominations close on the first of February, with the winner being selected in October and the award presented to the recipient in December.

In the running for the 2018 prize, there are currently 330 candidates, including 114 organizations.

If I were eligible to submit a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, I would nominate Oprah Winfrey.

In part because of the joy it would bring me to see Trump denied the honour to a Black woman who clearly intimidates him, but mostly, because over the course of her astonishing career, she’s earned it.

If selected, she would be the fourth Black woman to receive the honour. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee shared the award in 2011, and Wangari Muta Maathai accepted it in 2004.

While some may dismiss her career in entertainment as trivial, one cannot dismiss the powerful global impact created by the forum she created comprised of 4,561 television episodes for women to share their most intimate stories while promoting growth and healing.

Gloria Steinem noted that Oprah’s “ … daily presence on every continent and in 150 countries for a quarter century […] became a real and rare example of a spontaneous democracy in which people from every walk of life were invited to talk honestly and were listened to with empathy and respect.”

Aside from her impressive personal philanthropy, she’s devoted much of her career to helping people find their own truth and stand in it while seeking to be their best selves. Among her impacts on the world, this, I believe stands as her most powerful.

Well into her retirement, she continues to investigate and share truth, even when it is not what we want to see. Her most recent 60 Minutes special on the legacy of American public lynching, while jarring in it’s visual representation of Black death, was necessary to confronting its impacts.

Oprah may have decided against running for president against Trump, but if their impacts on promoting peace and making the world a better place are compared, her legacy is far more positive and wide reaching than his will ever be.

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