As almost everyone on the planet has heard by now, the highly anticipated Roseanne reboot was officially canceled yesterday, May 29th, after star Roseanne Barr tweeted a racist comment at former Obama-era advisor Valerie Jarrett, who happens to be an African-American woman. The now-deleted tweet said, “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” Likening people of color to “apes” is part of a long and painful history in western cultures, and the analogy has often been used to degrade, demean, and dehumanize an entire race of people.
The backlash to Barr was swift and just. Within hours, many of Barr’s colleagues tweeted their disgust over her comment, and ABC pulled the plug on her show — which was the highest rated on the network this past season and had already been renewed for Season 2.
After hours of seemingly frenzied tweets in which Barr claimed the comment was merely a “joke,” she eventually “apologized.”
However, this apology was laced within a number of questionable and offensive posts and retweets by the star.
In one, Barr attempted to defend her initial comment by claiming she didn’t know Jarrett was a black woman. “I thought she was saudi,” she wrote (as if that somehow makes it okay?).
She also retweeted several (thin and absurd) defenses of her comment.
Additionally, Barr said that she was on the sleep-aid Ambien when she posted the original message. A since-deleted May 30th tweet read,
However, many, including Ambien’s parent company Sanofi, rightfully pointed out that Ambien does not cause you to have bigoted thoughts…that’s all you, Ms. Barr.
At the end of the day, there’s no indication that Barr has any true remorse for the initial tweet or any understanding for why it was so hurtful and triggering to people of color in the first place. She may be sorry she lost herself a show; she may be sorry she lost her friends and coworkers jobs. But it appears nothing has changed in her actual perspectives on race or racism. Someone who took the time to understand these issues wouldn’t have tweeted/retweeted anything like this in the first place.
And that’s why we can’t accept her apology as sincere or meaningful now or, really, ever.