Though it’s easy to forget sometimes, Whoopi Goldberg’ career in entertainment goes back way beyond moderating of The View. Sure, these days, she’s more likely to break up an argument involving Meghan McCain than to receive an Oscar nomination. But it hasn’t been that long.
In the ’90s, Whoopi was one of Hollywood’s biggest and best-paid stars. And before that — long before it was popular to do so — she championed AIDS awareness, feminism, LGBTQ rights, and a woman’s right to choose.
So Whoopi’s political activism goes back at least four decades. And when she’s felt Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and other progressive politicians haven’t acknowledged her generation’s effort, it’s made her angry.
Whoopi took issue with AOC’s lack of respect for feminist icons
Though Whoopi said she cheered Ocasio-Cortez’s election, The View moderator said the Congresswoman “lost” her in the period that followed. “It felt like you were saying to people like me that I was too old and didn’t do enough,” Whoopi told her.
“That has bothered me because — I love young people, I was once one — but you’re on my shoulders,” Whoopi said. “We have carried this fight — people like Nancy Pelosi, who was the only chick in the room for years … to hear it sound like you were dismissing us bothered the hell out of me.”
Having said that, Whoopi asked if she was taking AOC’s comments the wrong way — or if the Congresswoman felt she’d been misquoted. Ocasio-Cortez spoke about the “incentive” (in the media, etc.) to “blow up disagreements in the party.” And she acknowledged those who came before her.
“I think it’s important for us all to recognize the people who have been in this fight who allow us to have this window,” she said. “Nancy Pelosi? That’s Mama Bear of the Democratic party. Also women like Barbara Lee, Jan Schakowsky, Maxine Waters. [Plus] my chairman Elijah Cummings.”
As Whoopi responded in the affirmative to every name, AOC said it’s common to frame new generations as rebellious toward those who’ve come before. But she noted the connection. “We are part of a long movement of ancestors and elders that we should always acknowledge,” AOC said. “Cool,” Whoopi replied.
Whoopi’s moment at a 1987 march on Washington
When Whoopi told Ocasio-Cortez she was “on her shoulders,” it wasn’t an exaggeration. In a march on Washington, D.C. for gay rights and AIDS awareness in 1987 — two years before AOC was born — a New York Times account noted her role in the event.
“One of the most moving moments came when the actress Whoopi Goldberg greeted several AIDS sufferers in wheelchairs,” it read. “A tearful Ms. Goldberg embraced each of them at the south end of the Capitol, whispering, ‘God bless you.'”
And when reporters asked her questions, Whoopi didn’t shy away from answering. “This isn’t about AIDS,” she told them. ”It’s about human rights. I’ve lost 60 of my friends to AIDS. I’m here for me, my friends, my daughter and all of those who are suffering.”
In short, Whoopi may have different ideas from the most progressive members of Congress in 2020. But no one can deny she’s been fighting the good fight for decades. And if you forget that, she’ll have a problem with you.