Roseanne, Thanks for the Wake-Up Call

I was driving through Hollywood, windows up, radio on, when a news anchor spilled the Roseanne story, how ABC dropped her like a hot potato for her racist tweet. My eyes got wide, I slapped my hand over my open mouth and said, ‘whaaaaat!!!’ A red light caught me by surprise and I slammed on my brakes.

As I drove home winding through narrow streets, I kept replaying the news in my head. Something about it got under my white skin, something I didn’t want to face. Something about my own racism. The tsunami of attention directed to Roseanne’s bad behavior made it easier for me to fly beneath the radar.

While the world (or some portion of the world) was busy throwing tomatoes at Roseanne, my not-so-blatant, unintentional, equally destructive racism was getting a free pass. It was time for me to take my own inventory. How was I also complicit? What do I do, say and/or think that degrades, demoralizes, or dehumanizes other people? People who are black, brown, yellow, white, short, tall, or differently abled. People who are politically left, right or somewhere off the deep end. My thoughts aren’t always those I’m proud of.

I don’t want to be telling you any of this. It’s feels like I’m farting in public. Or worse, I’m peeling back my holy public persona to reveal the stinky parts of myself. I don’t want to admit to myself that I can be a person who excludes, belittles, or bullies. But I can. And I do. Not all the time. Not with everyone. But enough that I need to pay attention.

Roseanne’s face should not the only face on a bullseye of a dart board.

On the same drive home, on the same radio station, I listened to an African-American man review a mantra he repeats before he leaves his house; keep your hands visible at all times, don’t make any sudden moves, speak in a low, calm voice, smile a lot, stand with your feet close together, dress conservatively.

Some days, he said, he just doesn’t go outside. He stays home, away from harsh words and handcuffs. Away from people like Roseanne. Away from people like me?

Roseanne got called out for crossing a line, a thick, solid line. But more often than not, racism is subtle, like when a black guy walks toward me and I cross to the other side of the street, or when I’m extra friendly to cover my discomfort, or when I fail to see the human being in front of me. I didn’t send a tweet, but I have much work to do.

Roseanne, thanks for the wake-up call.

6 comments on “Roseanne, Thanks for the Wake-Up Call

  1. Yes. We all judge and find fault. It’s challenging to accept others when we barely tolerate
    ourselves. .

  2. There is all kinds of pollution-air, water or especially thought-that gets in the way of working together to solve problems, like healing our nation and our world. Thanks for giving me a nudge to clean the attic.

  3. Thank you Davia. This is such a hard subject and as a white person I know there is lots of racism inside of me. And as I pay more and more attention I get to see it and not it let rule me. Race is one of the hardest things to talk about in any company and continues to need to be discussed dissected and opened up like a wound so it can heal. Wishing all of us all colors to mend and be gentle with each other but to do the work. Take a workshop. Call others on their comments. Look deeply into ones own life. Thank you Davia for another moment to look at myself and see that there is still much work to be done.

  4. One reason “The Revolution will not be televised” is because it’s essentially an internal change that must happen — with each person who is complicit to any behavior. The public backlash Roseanne received was the first step, but the much more difficult and truly transformative step was the one you took — a look inside oneself. As an African-American man who met you briefly several years ago, but who was impressed enough by you to “stay in touch”, I applaud your integrity. Well done.

  5. As always, nail on head. Yes, we all have work to do.
    Have a great time in DC. I already miss everyone and the conference.

  6. It’s so icky to look at my white self honestly and objectively, as you have modeled for us here, Davia. I’d much rather think of myself as so much better than the Roseannes of the world! But look I do. By reading, talking openly as I dare with others like me and not like me, by taking a fantastic weekend workshop called “Whites Confronting Racism,” hosted by Training for Change, my intention today is to be vigilant, unflinching, and compassionate with myself as I continue to heal from my own racism.

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