Roseanne Barr, let’s talk about racism

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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.