Roseanne Barr Found It Okay to Call a Black Woman an Ape… Because ‘I Thought She Was White’
Roseanne Barr is addressing the racist tweet that led to the cancellation of the Roseanne reboot in her first interview since the controversy.
"God, it's really hard to say this," the comedian told Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on his podcast, before offering a lengthy answer for her racially-charged offenses at Valerie Jarrett, former President Obama's White House senior advisor.
“I didn’t mean what they think I meant, and that’s what’s so painful," Barr went on. "But I have to face that this hurt people — and when you hurt people, even unwittingly, there’s no excuse, so I don’t want to blabber off on excuses. I apologize to anyone who thought or felt offended and thought that I meant something that I, in fact, did not mean to my own ignorance.”
The "ignorance" Barr speaks of pertains to the epithet she used to describe Jarrett when responding to allegations that the 61-year-old businesswoman was involved in hiding intel that would have implicated Obama in spying on French presidential candidates.
In a since-deleted tweet, Barr referred to Jarrett — an African-American woman born in Iran to American parents — as if the "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby." In another, the 65-year-old actress said, "Muslims r NOT a race."
Barr was admonished almost immediately and issued a public apology via Twitter to "Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans" who were harmed by her comments. Although, Barr has partially imputed her "bad joke" on being under the influence of Ambien, of all causes. Nevertheless, the performer has been remorseful about the embarrassment, for which she "horribly" regrets, telling Boteach she "lost everything" as a result of her abuses, most notably the leading role on her sitcom.
On May 29, Roseanne, which was destined to see its eleventh season on ABC this fall, was abruptly axed in light of the backlash. After weeks of a rumored side project, however, the network confirmed on June 21 that the series would receive a spinoff called The Conners, without Barr's attachment.
Yet, in her own argument, Barr rejected the racist designation given to her as a result of her inflammatory tweets with what some may consider an age-old defense.
"I have black children in my family. I can’t, I can’t let ‘em say these things about that, after 30 years of my putting my family and my health and my livelihood at risk to stand up for people," she said through tears, pleading, "I’m a lot of things, a loud mouth and all that stuff. But I’m not stupid, for God’s sake. I never would have wittingly called any black person, [I would never have said] they are a monkey. I just wouldn’t do that. I didn’t do that."
While the extent of Barr's intelligence is debatable, her apology and rationale are quite clear; she, like many other sharp-tongued personalities, relies too heavily on the case that having family members and working relationships with individuals of African-American descent exonerates her from such judgment.
Barr's belief that she's been unfairly criticized by the public and that her "huge error" was predicated on her innocuously confusing Jarrett's racial identity is inexcusable, and honestly unreasonable, more so than her actual justification behind her wording — that she would never intentionally call a black person a monkey, had she been privy to the fact.
"I did not know she was a black woman," she elaborated. "When ABC called me and said, 'What is the reason for your egregious racism?' I said, 'Oh my God, it is a form of racism. I guess that I didn't know she was black and I'll cop to it.'"
She added: "I am so sorry and humiliated and, you know, angry at myself but in my heart, I just made a stupid error and I told that to ABC, and they didn't accept it or want to hear it. I said, 'But that's the truth, I thought she was white.'"
What do you think of Barr's justifications? Sound off your thoughts in the comments, below.