The United States is reeling from the latest “foot-in-the-mouth” comments from a high profile public figure. Roseanne Barr, the star of the popular ABC sitcom, “Roseanne,” tweeted a number of mean-spirited, inflammatory comments about various individuals. Regarding the Black community, the most unsettling tweet targeted one of former President Barack Obama’s top aides, Valerie Jarrett. Basically, Rosanne tweeted: “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = vj.” The “vj” was for Valerie Jarrett. This tweet set off a firestorm of rage that had ripple effects throughout the country. Within an hour and a half of the tweet comedienne and one of the show’s consulting producers, Wanda Sykes, quit the show. She tweeted “I will not be returning to @RoseanneOnABC.” In addition, it is said that other cast members took issue with the tweet. The most surprising thing about this situation is that the show was immediately canceled! Barr scrambled to make an apology, but by then it was too late. She tweeted “I should have known better. Forgive me – my joke was in bad taste.”
Valerie Jarrett’s response to the tweet was truly one that demonstrated class and discretion. She said “I think we have to turn it into a teaching moment. I’m fine,” she said. But she expressed concern about the number of people who experience racism every day but who do not have the support network that she has. In response to a question about whether she thought that the president set the “tone” for this kind of behavior she said, “Tone does start at the top…” She added that we all have a responsibility for what happens, and that the “government is only going to be as good as we make it to be.”
The sad truth is that a very dark tone has been set by the White House. President Donald Trump, who vowed to make America great again,” has done as much as possible, and continues to do, everything to turn back the clock in America. This does not bode well for Black people, who have never experienced a level playing field in this “land of the free and home of the slave.” Under his lead, bigots of all stripes are emboldened because they believe that they have an ally in the White House. Our president and his bigoted sycophants refuse to acknowledge the consequences of their actions. For example, even though there is a long history of maltreatment of Blacks and others, bigots have ultimately ended up defeated. There have been great sacrifices like, for instance, Emmett Till and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but there has also been an increasing recognition by the white majority of the folly of bigotry. Bigoted behavior has resulted in financial losses. An example is the cancelling of “Roseanne,” which was sure to be a big money maker. Moreover, the staff and crew are set to lose employment. In other words, Rosanne Barr’s gaffe will result in big losses across the board for those who were poised to work with her.
The stupidity of bigotry is that we are all together on this little blue-green ball that we call home. We are interdependent, whether we want to believe it or not. What happens to one segment of the population will have an impact elsewhere. And it is backward to use superficial standards like race to thwart people’s ambitions. Ironically, Roseanne Barr’s racially inflammatory tweet took place on the day that Starbucks, the gourmet coffee establishment that was charged with discrimination when the police were called on two Black men who wanted to use the washroom, closed 8,000 stores for a period of time in order to conduct racial sensitivity training.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however. Based on the outcry from many segments of American society, the cancelling of “Roseanne,” and Starbucks’ decision to address racial bias, among other indicators, there seems to be a growing gap between the bigots and the progressives, and the latter seem to be winning. Whether this is due to fiscal pragmatism or whether there is an actual change of heart and minds, progress is evident. The prudent thing to do now is to take advantage of this “teachable moment” during the upcoming midterm elections and resolve to kick the bigots out of office! A Luta Continua.