Yesterday, Roseanne Barr, star of the reboot of the 90s sitcom Roseanne, tweeted a comparison of former Obama adviser, Valerie Jarrett to an “ape.” Jarrett has since responded during an interview with MSNBC, calling it a “teaching moment” as has the president of ABC Entertainment Group, Channing Dungey and Disney CEO Bob Iger. He also called Jarrett. After the cancellation of her show, Barr tweeted an apology to Jarrett.
Pundits have been discussing, dissecting and even defending her words. It does not sound defensible but it certainly sounds familiar. The words that follow are my response.
Her words are not “surprise” and should not come as a “shock” no matter the year we are living in.
This is not a “bad joke” or something said “in poor taste.”
This is not “crazy.”
This is not “cooky.”
This is not “just one person.”
This is not an outlier, a lone wolf or a member of the fringe.
This is not indicative of mental illness and does not require therapy.
This is not a sickness.
This is not proof of an underlying issue, which requires a closer look, more conversations, more talking points.
This is not a time to take a step back.
This is not a gross mistake, misspeaking or just a big misunderstanding.
This is not being blown out of proportion or taking away from more important issues.
This is not a distraction.
This is not insensitive.
This is not your brain on Ambien (and its creators agree).
This is not conservative versus liberal, red states versus blue states.
This is not a conspiracy.
This is not “crossing the line.”
This is not a new low.
This is not about someone’s politics or looks.
This is about the attempt to dehumanize African American people by equating them with animals.
This is America’s foundational fiction: race.
This is racism.