If you want to really get a black person ticked off just compare him or her to an ape.
Roseanne Barr might as well have called Valerie Jarrett the n-word.
Barr has done some despicable things in the past — including grabbing her crotch while assaulting the National Anthem with her warbling (and people have the nerve to get upset about athletes taking a knee) — but what she said about Jarrett was not only repugnant, it was blatantly racist.
Thankfully, ABC didn’t let the sun set on Barr’s antics. Within hours after she posted the offending tweet about Jarrett — a senior adviser in the Barack Obama administration and a woman I credit with orchestrating his historic run for the presidency — ABC gave Barr a swift kick in the behind.
Channing Dungey, the first black person to be president of a major broadcast network, issued a terse statement, saying Barr’s tweet was “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel the show.”
Civil rights organizations were ecstatic.
“We applaud ABC for taking a stand against racism by cancelling Roseanne today. We commend the network and its president, Channing Dungey, for placing the values of diversity, inclusion and respect for humanity above ratings,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson.
But ABC executives knew Barr was a snake when they brought her in.
This is the same woman who used a similar “ape” insult to demean former National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
Barr’s apology to Jarrett only added insult to injury.
“I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me-my joke was in bad taste,” Barr tweeted.
No. It wasn’t a bad joke. It wasn’t a joke at all. It was a racist comment that had no place in the public arena.
Barr only made matters worse when she later tweeted: “It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting.”
“[W]hile all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication,” the drugmaker responded on social media.
Here’s the thing.
When white people are called out for racially offensive behavior, instead of trying to understand why a person of color is upset, most try to turn the tables.
Look at how President Donald Trump responded when asked about the Barr meltdown.
Instead of trying to engage the country in a dialogue, Trump — a huge Barr supporter — took to twitter to complain about the “HORRIBLE” statements made about him on ABC.
Jarrett, who coincidentally participated in a taping of MSNBC’s town hall on “Everyday Racism in America” that aired Tuesday night, addressed Barr’s comments.
“I think we have to turn it into a teaching moment. I’m fine. I’m worried about all the people out there who don’t have a circle of friends and followers who come to their defense,” she said.
For starters, we need to call these kinds of acts what they are: r-a-c-i-s-t.
Barr’s tweet, comparing Jarrett to an animal, is racist and was meant to demean and dehumanize.
“This whole ‘simian’ thing has roots as old as the creation of race itself. The notion of blacks as apelike ‘began with the first European contact with Africans,’ Philip Atiba Goff, a UCLA psychologist, said in a 2014 interview with “The Root.”
“You have to look no further than news about taunts (and tossed bananas) from the stands of soccer matches and hateful photos of Barack and Michelle Obama to realize how stubborn this association has been,” he said.
During Obama’s presidency despicable images of the first black president and first lady as apes were circulated freely on the internet.
Barr got the boot because while she had the top-rated new show on television and millions of viewers, she could end up costing ABC a lot more in lost advertising resulting from her racist rants.
But just as racists are free to spew their hatred on the internet, powerful social movements have been birthed on that same internet: #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, #TimesUp.
People of color are tired of being demeaned by negative stereotypes, and young activists — not old folks — own the internet.
Today’s activists certainly aren’t going to sit quietly and let prominent African-Americans get dragged by the likes of Roseanne.
After all, there’s no reboot for racism.