Roseanne Barr’s tweet directed at former Barack Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett swiftly led to the cancellation of the ABC reboot, and Jarrett herself has now spoken out about the incident. While the former senior advisor isn’t typically on social media much, it just so happens that she was slated to do a town hall event with MSNBC titled Everyday Racism in America as social media went wild over the tweet. Jarrett addressed the incident during the event and used it as a way to shift the conversation to racism issues that ordinary people face every day.
People notes that during the Everyday Racism in America town hall, Valerie Jarrett said that the Roseanne tweet should be used as a teaching moment. The former Obama advisor insists that she’s fine in the wake of the incident, but she worries about the everyday people who don’t have the kind of support that she does. Many people were immediately outraged and swiftly came to her defense after Roseanne’s post.
CNN adds that Jarrett took the moment to talk about the black parents who have to have “the talk” with their black sons about the racism they will likely face as they become teens. Valerie added that she is concerned about the everyday incidents of racism that impact people of color in the most ordinary of situations.
The MSNBC panel was hosted by Chris Hayes and Joy Reid and it came on the day that Starbucks closed more than 8,000 stores for part of the day to do racial-sensitivity training in response to the incident that took place in Philadelphia a matter of weeks ago. The Reverend Al Sharpton and Sherrilyn Ifill were also participating on the panel.
Jarrett says that ABC’s decision to cancel Roseanne in response to the tweet that likened the former Obama advisor to an ape was the right call. She said that other corporations need to step up and hold people accountable for racist behavior like Starbucks and Disney have now done, and Valerie noted that the Disney CEO did call her ahead of the official cancellation announcement to share the company’s decision.
As some have pointed out, Roseanne has a history of posting controversial tweets and this isn’t the first time she’s referred to a woman of color as an ape. The axed ABC star posted something similar on Twitter in 2013 in reference to Susan Rice, President Obama’s former National Security Advisor, and Rice retweeted a screenshot of that post as the buzz over the Jarrett incident swirled.
As former first lady Michelle Obama urged people to do, Valerie Jarrett definitely went high when Roseanne went low in this situation. The ex-ABC star certainly didn’t intend to give Jarrett any additional ammunition to use during the Everyday Racism in America event, but it definitely provided a valuable talking point for the MSNBC panel.