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Roseanne Barr, let’s talk about racism

Larshell Green

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The first amendment has become the greatest accomplishment and curse of our nation. 

In the time of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements, you would think that a woman in the entertainment business, a huge position of power, would not spew hate speech publicly. 

Maybe I should have been surprised by Roseanne Barr’s tweet, but I wasn’t. Every minority feels the sting of harsh words, looks and actions every single day. 

It’s the sales worker that follows you around the store because you “look” suspicious, the teacher who assumes that you aren’t highly knowledgeable of any culture except for your own, or the friend who becomes so infatuated with your culture that they misappropriate it as their own. 

I say all of this to say that racism and stereotyping has been a large part of our country since it started. Its ugly roots remain embedded in our culture. 

Stereotyping and gender bias don’t only exist for minorities. Everyone has something about their physical appearance that makes people assume something about them. 

For me, it’s my skin color and braids. 

I recall being hassled in Walmart almost two months ago. An out of uniform officer abruptly stopped me in the line and asked for my name. I was suspicious and refused to state it without some explanation. It then became clear to me that I was being considered as a theft suspect. 

Because I was wearing a burgundy sweater, which was about three shades off from the purple dress the actual suspect was wearing, the officer confronted the first young black woman he thought fit the vague description. 

Upon looking at the apprehended woman, I noticed that she didn’t have braids. Her hair was straight and in a ponytail. She was also about two shades darker than me. 

None of that mattered, though because by then, another mark had been left on me. 

This was a harsh reminder of the labels that society will forever cast on me. 

This is the root of the pain that people have felt because of the tweet. I could not first discuss the events surrounding Barr’s tweet without discussing the real issue at hand: racism. To discuss the event as anything other than that would make me a ploy to the media circus that I refuse to be a part of. 

On Tuesday, May 29, Barr tweeted this message about Barack Obama’s senior advisor Valerie Jarrett: “If the muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”

The insult of referring to African-Americans as monkeys has been used to dehumanize us. Barr knew this was wrong as soon as she did it. It was not a mistake.

 She only apologized because her job and reputation were on the line. She even blamed the message on being under the influence of Ambien, to which the creator, Sanofi US, replied that: “racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi product.” 

This isn’t the first time that Barr has committed questionable and controversial acts in public. She sang the national anthem off key and made sexual gestures in 1990. In 2009, she posed for a satirical issue of Heeb magazine and ate cookies out of an oven dressed as Adolf Hitler. 

In no way am I excusing Barr for the comments she made. Her new reboot of “Roseanne” was pulled off of ABC, and her reruns aren’t shown on television. She was rightfully punished. 

Let this situation remain etched in our minds and not become “stale news.” This should serve as an example to all public figures that irresponsibly say or tweet inappropriate comments. Let’s continue to have conversations about the dangers of racism and stereotyping. 

And for goodness sake, use social media wisely. 

12 Comments

12 Responses to “Roseanne Barr, let’s talk about racism”

  1. Alex on July 19th, 2018 5:36 pm

    Thank you for keeping the conversation going on this important issue. However, I do believe it is necessary to state things in their proper context after having thoroughly researched the topic. I am a big fan of Roseanne. I have followed her career for many years. Although I do not approve of her words by any means, I do not believe Roseanne is a bigot. To come to that conclusion one has to understand Roseanne and know her career. Roseanne began her show in the late 80s at a time when women were not leaders in Hollywood. Love her or hate her, Roseanne is a trailblazer. I know what she has done throughout her career and I know how groundbreaking her show was. From tackling topics like poverty, domestic abuse, prejudice, and homosexuality, she gave people from all walks of life a platform. Also important to note is that Roseanne designed her show around things she experienced in her real life. For example, she has 2 gay siblings, so found it necessary to talk about gay struggles in her show (which we can talk about the obstacles she went through to have those episodes approved by the networks). Her show aired one of the first gay kisses, and also aired one of the 1st TV gay weddings. People don’t know that Roseanne is for the working people. Let’s talk about her show’s first run. The first season was about a working class woman (Roseanne) who rebels against her town’s big employer, a factory. Then, the show ends in the ninth season, with that same woman winning the lottery, buying the factory, and giving it to the people of her town. Sadly, I think this whole thing has shown the ignorance of so many and it’s unfortunate that due to our current situation in this country, everything is highly politicized. But I will not allow the media, which has its own agenda, to shape my thinking. I do have questions regarding her Ambien excuse (although it is known that the drug does cause people to do certain things, like go to sleep and wake up in their car. It should also be noted that Roseanne drinks, so combining prescription drugs with alcohol can lead to who knows what. Also, Roseanne has stated as far back in the 90s her struggles with mental illness), but I do believe her explaination that she did not know Valerie Jarret was African American (I have met Ms. Jarret, she spoke at my college graduation, so I can see how someone can make that mistake), and I also accept her explanation that her comment was in reference to the Planet of the Apes screenplay writer, Rob Sterling. Sterling was known for writing about things like racism and anti-semitism and a film analysis of Plant of the Apes does lead many people to find links to Jewish culture and history in the movie (you can literally google Jewish history and culture in Planet if the Apes and things pop up). Roseanne, who is Jewish and grew up housing Holocaust survivors in her Utah home, stated that her tweet was referencing Obama’s and Jarret’s stances on Israel. But again, people would have to read things other than CNN and MSNBC to find these things out. I also find it interesting that ABC cancelled her show because her comments were not in line with their values, but are choosing to still do a spin off of the show titled “The Connors”. So she violated their values enough to get her fired, but not enough to where they don’t want to profit from her work? Interesting. I also have trouble with the media’s obvious double standards. Shows like The View, also on ABC, are on the air after comedians like Joy Behar say things like Christians who hear God’s voice have a mental illness. Peter Fonda said a couple weeks ago that Barron Trump (Trump’s young son) should be put in a cage with sexual predators yet he was not fired from Sony, which chose to still release Fond’s movie a week ago. I also find it sad that Roseanne’s cast basically turned their backs on her. Again, she went against their values enough to get her fired, but people still want to profit from her. Those are pretty weak values if you ask me. Let’s also keep in mind that Roseanne willingly gave up her rights to the show so that they can do the spin off. They had to ask her permission to continue the show without her because she holds creative rights. It’s her show. She released a statement saying she agreed to the settlement in order to save the 200 jobs of the cast and crew. Another thing is that people commenting on social media saying she’s only sorry now because they’re doing a spin off of the show without her. Wrong. The interview released where she is crying her eyes out was done two days after her show was cancelled (Almost a month ago), but the interviewer didn’t release it until yesterday out of respect to Roseanne, who is his friend. What would you rather have her do? Not apologize? So if she apologizes you say it’s only because she lost her show. If she doesn’t apologize you call her a racist. So either way you’d have a problem. I also find it troubling that people are unwilling to forgive her. Comments like “we reap what we sow” and “she deserves all she gets”. Correct, we reap what we sow (non-christians call it Karma) and I firmly believe that those who are so hard to forgive will one day do something they truly regret and are sorry for and will not receive forgiveness. As Martin Luther King Jr said, “we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive”. In regards to her national anthem scandal, Roseanne has stated in numerous interviews the thought behind that. She stated, “people should care more about freedom, than symbols of freedom”. You also mentioned her photoshoot dressed as Hitler, which she has also addressed. The purpose of that shoot, which was published by a Jewish magazine, was to show the normalization of genocide. Roseanne has stated in an interview that the point was to show how since WWII, genocides have continued to happen and are almost common. They have become so common and normal, it’s as normal as baking cookies. Again, I just think one should do research and understand a person before going on a rant about how they are racist.

  2. Mitchell Jackson on July 19th, 2018 5:37 pm

    I love Roseanne!!!!

  3. Crystal on July 19th, 2018 5:38 pm

    Big fan of Roseanne. Put her back on TV!

  4. Nathan on July 19th, 2018 5:39 pm

    They totally screwed her over. She did not deserve to be fired.

  5. Jenny on July 19th, 2018 5:40 pm

    Roseanne forever!!!

  6. Kris on July 19th, 2018 5:41 pm

    This is the dumbest article I’ve ever read. The writer clearly knows nothing about Roseanne.

  7. Juan on July 19th, 2018 5:42 pm

    Roseanne has done more in ONE episode of her show for marginalized groups than most people do in their entire lives!

  8. Dan on July 19th, 2018 5:43 pm

    The spin off will suck without Roseanne!

  9. Derek on July 19th, 2018 5:44 pm

    Let’s worry about real racism. Not some lady tweeting.

  10. Olivia on July 19th, 2018 5:44 pm

    Roseanne will be back and better than ever!

  11. Carlos on July 19th, 2018 5:45 pm

    Roseanne is a fighter. She’ll be back.

  12. John on July 19th, 2018 5:46 pm

    Roseanne! Roseanne! Roseanne!

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