Covington woman talks about ‘colorism’ on ‘Oprah’s Lifeclass’
A Covington freelance writer and mother of three is sharing her experiences dealing with “colorism” on ‘Oprah’s Lifeclass’ — a television program that seeks to help viewers live their best lives. It airs tonight at 9 p.m. on the OWN Network.
Marteeta Cannon Spradling joined media mogul Oprah Winfrey and inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant via Skype — an online webcam application — as they addressed “colorism,” the prejudice people face based on skin color, and the impact it has on self-esteem.
Spradling, 40, said she received a call to be on the show, which was taped on Dec. 4, after she submitted an email to the OWN Networks’ website describing her experiences with colorism.
“I’m always on the OWN website,” Spradling said. “My sister said, ‘Hey, they are doing a show, why don’t you write in to the show?’ So I was like, ‘Well, I will, but. … So, I wrote in, and that was the end of it.”
“I would say two or three days later, I got a call on my phone from Harpo Studios. I was thinking, I get the magazine subscriptions; maybe it’s someone from the magazine subscriptions. … I did not believe it,’” she said.
“I talked to the producer… we talked about two hours, and she was like,
‘I’ve never talked to anyone this long. You know we have to get you on the show.’”
Spradling said after about four or five phone conversations later with the producer, it was determined that she would have a Skype interview with Oprah during the show instead of flying to Chicago to be in the audience.
“She (the producer) was like, ‘I think it will be better if we Skype you in; you’ll get a little more talk time through Skype, versus if you are in the audience — she (Oprah) may or may not get to you, but she will definitely get to the people on Skype,’ and so, it worked out.”
During the show, Spradling said, she shared her personal experiences dealing with colorism and how she has lived her life despite other people’s perceptions of her skin color.
Spradling said, “It (colorism) is something that I have experienced. However, I come from a family that did not do that as far as thinking one shade of color was better than another shade of color.”
“My parents always told me that we were more than good enough to do whatever it was that we wanted. I was also brought up in a way that your gifts would make room for you, not your color.”
Not wanting to give away much about the show’s content, Spradling noted that colorism continues to be a problem in the African-American community and in other cultures where there is a “scope of color.” However, she said she never let skin color bother her.
“Other people will stop you in your tracks if you listen to them, and I don’t have time to buy into that. I did for a minute, but I had to let it go,” Spradling said. “I’ve always been a rebel. I’d dwell on it for like a second and then I was like, ‘I don’t care if they like me or not; I’m just who I am.’”
Spradling and her husband, Bart, live in Covington with their 8-year-old twin boys and 5-year-old daughter. She said she wants her children to have healthy self-esteem and a healthy sense of who they are and to, “appreciate not only themselves, but also be able to appreciate other people and their differences.”
A former comedienne who is now a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer, Spradling said the opportunity to be on ‘Oprah’s Lifeclass’ has taught her to trust her gut, step out of her comfort zone and try to live her best life.
“You just have to walk in your own truth,” she said.
Marteeta Cannon Spradling.