If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say...Let me first start by saying that racism and sexism are the cruellest forms of humanity, if you can even call it that.
Perhaps you saw it on the news, it didn’t create many headlines, but it did create a few. In late May, Roseanna Barr, (the star of the 90’s sitcom Roseanne which follows one family in a fictional suburb in Illinois and had a reboot this year) tweeted “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes has a baby=vj,” referring to Valerie Jarrett who is a former top aide to President Obama.
It seemed that almost immediately after Barr tweeted, ABC’s entertainment president, Channing Dungey, said, “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.” And called for the cancelation of the show. While Barr has since apologized on social media and other news platforms, she claims that what she said was “a joke.”
While it seems as though this social media and PR disaster has been taken care of it, the firestorm that it has created, if it continues to get fueled, should go in a different direction. Rather than continually speaking of how this kind of language is not tolerated nor supported by certain organization and employers, we need to take one step further and look at it through the lens of gender. Ms. Barr is a 65-year-old white American female; who’s past is not squeaky clean when it comes to talks of racism or bigotry. But, she is a woman. Compared to the President of the United States, Mr. Donald Trump, whom consistently tweets out racial slurs, supports those that are being accused of sexual misconduct (and is even accused of it himself) and consistently points the blame towards others or even the ‘fake news’ but not once has his superior, his administration, those that he is employed by, called him to tell him that his words are not tolerated. Now, perhaps we can simply play this off by saying that there is no comparison. One side is a woman who is the face of a reboot television show that is bringing in millions of viewers and dollars to a company. The other: is the face of a nation, that is setting the standard for the way that others can assume Americans think, speak, act and feel. Perhaps one could even say, well it’s not the same because Barr was an employee of ABC Entertainment while Mr. Trump is the President, exactly; he is technically an employee of the United States Government.
Here’s my question for you: have you ever been around someone who made some kind of racist or sexist joke? Perhaps it was a fellow colleague, a friend, even a professor. Think about it for a second. Were they a man or a women? Were they white or were they black? Did you do anything about it? Did you say, “Hey that’s not right. Don’t do that. Don’t make broad, sweeping, generalizations about someone.” Perhaps, you simply laughed it off, a bit awkwardly because it made you uncomfortable and then the subject changed. Perhaps you didn’t even realize what their remark was about until later when you were thinking about your day. It happens, I get it. We all slip up sometimes in our vocabulary. But that’s not the point. The point is the tolerance.
I remember a job I had for only a few days where the owners of the company made sexual jokes, not about me or the other employees, simply about the space we were using. I remember a dear friend making a racist comment about someone we pasted on the street. Each of these times I laughed a bit and later realized what exactly it was that I was laughing about, what it was that I was encouraged in that moment of misjudgment. We all have a chance to make a change in this world. One of the biggest ways is through our words. If we choose to let those words of bigotry, hate, racism, sexism, and all around unethical phrases continue in our lives, can you imagine what we will become? We will spread hate. We will spread fear. We will spread separation. In a world that is already so divided on every last little detail, I would like to call attention to one more area, Barr, while her comments were absolutely uncalled for and unjustified, is a woman who’s show was dropped almost immediately and who’s talent agency consequently dropped her and who didn’t make too many headlines a week or so after. In juxtaposition to the man who is running a country and is consistently making comments of racism, sexism, name calling and bigotry is continuing to lead a nation into an area of great divide. Which side will you choose: one of silent agreement, one of small laugher and later realization, one of tolerance on one side and not the other simply due to gender or association, or one of zero tolerance not matter who someone is or where they are? I urge you to decide, and soon.