Tag Archives: the invention of race

What does Roseanne’s tweet mean for us?

See the source imageYesterday, 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.

Why is race here?

measuring_raceWhy is race here?  Why do we continue to allow it to be the cornerstone of our identity, investing who we are and will be into this social category, placing our children in its boxes?  What gives it membership and belonging?  Why does race have such power over us and presence within our society?

Persons have tried to explain the existence of race over time through science, Scripture and skin; but the truth is that we made it up.  Most scholars agree that race is a “folk idea” and a recent invention.  No, race is not biological or biblical. We are not born racial beings and race was not in the beginning with God.  Race is a social construct.

Race is a product of our thoughts; it’s origin is our mind.  Race is here because of the way that we choose to think of human beings from other cultures.  Race is here by the invitation of our imagination.  We need only change our minds and race will disappear.  So, why is race (still) here?