Today, right now, Starbucks will close 8,000 stores across the nation for an afternoon of anti-bias training. What Starbucks will attempt to do in just the three hours is undo centuries of generational racial bias in this country. Sounds like a pretty heavy task. In the meantime, television “star” Roseanne Barr compared a black woman, Valerie Jarrett, to a monkey in a tweet recently and then later apologized for making “a bad joke”.
It’s easy and even convenient, to blame this new age of racism on Trump. The reality is this, though the racist rhetoric seems to be more public and in your face since Trump took office the truth is it is the same as it has always been, ugly and just as prevalent as it was 100 years ago. Why it seems more widespread has more to do with “us” than “them”.
The “them”, the racist, the bigots and the white supremacist never went away. They weren’t in hiding for eight years during Barack Obama’s presidency. They didn’t keep their mouths shut or their opinions to themselves for eight years, we just weren’t paying attention. They held just as many rallies and spread their hate-filled propaganda across the internet to anyone that would listen. Some of us just weren’t listening or watching.
The biggest difference today than yesterday? We didn’t see “them” on the national news at Barack Obama campaign rallies being held in high-school gymnasiums in Iowa or Alabama like we do with Trump. That’s the difference. They didn’t go undercover. They never left. We just didn’t see “them” because we weren’t looking for “them” until Dylann Roof reintroduced us to the face of hate and racism in Charleston, SC on June 17, 2015.
I am not a Roseanne Barr fan. Her low-brow comedy simply doesn’t appeal to me. When I was seven years old I probably would have found fart and belch humor funny. But at 57 I am looking for something a little less juvenile to make me laugh. Deplorables would call that my elitist, liberal, sense of humor. I call it being a grown-up.
I didn’t watch her first show and I haven’t watched one second of the new Roseanne reboot. Trump supporters and Trump himself have given the show high-praise. They claim that the sitcom offers a portrayal of a segment of our American society often ignored by the liberals in Hollywood.
Now, I don’t doubt that the Roseanne and Dan Conner family do represent a slice of America. I also don’t doubt that the Roseanne and Dan Conner’s of the world voted for Trump. But Roseanne Barr isn’t Roseanne Conner, an American working-class mom struggling to get by on a limited household income in the drab fictional town of Lanford, Illinois. Roseanne Barr has an estimated net worth of $80 million and lives on a macadamia nut farm in Hawaii. About as far away from working-class as you can get. So why would she put out such an ugly, racist tweet? Is she simply taking a page out of the Trump playbook and playing to her base?
I will blame Trump for one thing that he has accomplished between “us” and “them”. He has made the divide wider and deeper. He has created two very distinct sides. He has also created allies, though they wouldn’t admit it, of groups that would appear or should be on polar opposite sides of the spectrum, white supremacist and Evangelicals as an example. Evangelicals will hold their breath until they turn blue claiming that they aren’t racist while white supremacist are okay with being lumped into the Evangelical fruit basket. They can’t both be right, or can they?
I don’t consider myself a racist but my children will point-out labels that I use to identify people rather than just being a person be it short, tall, gay or black. They know, as I know that I don’t use these descriptions as a means to degrade or slight someone. It is simply how I was raised to identify people. That doesn’t make it right but it also adds clarity to someone you was raised in a home with acute racial bias or insensitive’s. I say mental disability, they say retarded. I say Hispanics, they say Mexicans. I say homosexual, they say fag. I say black, they say…….
While I was writing this post ABC cancelled the Roseanne Show. Entertainment president Channing Dungey said in a statement that “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.” I agree wholeheartedly with this statement but there will be Americans that won’t, about 35% of them that won’t. I am sure Trump will chime in (see below) at some point about the controversy. His base will both expect and demand it.
The sad aspect of this is that there is a segment of our population that agrees with what Roseanne Barr tweeted. People fear different so they resort to hate and ugliness. They go to extreme lengths to protect themselves from people who don’t look or believe as they do hoping that distance, violence or projected hatred will make the problem go away. And they marginalize, as Trump does, assuming a position of strength and superiority when in fact they are in the minority.
The face of America is changing. Certainly it is not happening quick enough for many of us but it is changing. I doubt we will ever bury racism. But I do think the end of white privileged is fast approaching. I like to believe that Trump is the last gasp. He probably isn’t but I suspect it is getting close and that is what the Roseanne and Dan Conner’s of the world are scared of.
UPDATE from the “What about me? What about me? Look at me! Look at me!” Baby-in-Chief; “Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that “ABC does not tolerate comments like those” made by Roseanne Barr. Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn’t get the call?” – Trump tweet 5-30-18