Not entirely ready to forgive Roseanne (but I’m going to try)

February 11, 2023

I’m not entirely ready to forgive Roseanne. I think she’s rewriting history a bit. I don’t believe that she didn’t know that the target of her Twitter “joke” was Black. Her apology doesn’t sound sincere, after seeing the clip of her show. She def had Clinton derangement syndrome and had been mean and nasty for a long time toward anyone who supported the Clintons. It was only a matter of time before she crossed the line into something completely unacceptable, like a racist tweet.

Photo: Jonathan Mauer

On the other hand, canceling her show was a bit over the top, and an overly harsh sentence can obliterate feelings of contrition. Her comment could have sparked the “national conversation about race” that Obama said we needed to have. We’re not having the conversation. People of all races are mostly too afraid to question or to discuss racism freely, while the most psychopathic among us indulge in unproductive character assassination to play for the crowd.

I don’t know Roseanne and haven’t followed her closely enough to know if she’s a racist. (I read her autobiography, which was interesting.) I certainly can’t defend what she tweeted, though I’m not onboard with the “woke” definition of racist, which seems to be any person who makes any comment which betrays ignorance of any piece of Black history or culture or sociological statistical studies. I have run across too many people who really do believe in the superiority of the “white race” to countenance the word being irresponsibly disseminated (and potentially watered down) as fodder for Robin D’Angelo’s corporate-sponsored moral industry.

And I am very upset about problems in the US being racialized in order to be non-addressed. Poverty and income-inequality (related, but not exactly the same) contribute in a big way to problems facing the majority of African-Americans, as they do most Americans, and the US really really doesn’t want address poverty. The wealthy and well-connected want to racialize it – to police language and educate individuals with no clout in the system about systemic racism. I can understand why orgs devoted to addressing political issues of African Americans would be specifically interested in Black poverty and Black victims of police brutality and Black preventable health problems. But I see what universities, corporate media, and the men who control this country’s wealth are doing here, and I call foul. They don’t really want to address poverty or incarceration or violence or infant mortality. They want to Christian it a Black issue and prescribe another anti-racism seminar for the cogs and proto-cogs in the corporate machine. They want to crow with the Twitter mob and pat themselves on the back for being “progressive.”

I guess I do want to forgive Roseanne, because I want to move on. I hope she doesn’t make any more thoughtless racist remarks, though I’m not hopeful. She doesn’t strike me as a person who lives a self-examined life, and yet she lives under a public microscope more than most celebrities. She’s old and fat and loud and disagreeable and men of all classes – but especially rich white men – don’t like her.

Which is why she’s such a conundrum when she’s also wrong.