Racism In America: “Did You Find Something?”

When I was seven or eight years old, I attended Field Elementary School in Minneapolis, MN. Back then we had recess periods to let kids exercise and blow off steam, one day at recess I looked down and saw a shiny Kennedy half-dollar coin on the ground. I picked it up and put in in my pocket. At the same time I noticed a white boy about my age scouring the ground looking for something. We looked each other in the eye.

He said, “Did you find something?”


We looked at each other for a few seconds, I moved on and he kept searching the ground. I knew he had lost the fifty cents, he knew I had found it.

There were several hundred students at Field Elementary and I have no memories of the other kid, we weren’t friends, didn’t share classes, maybe we never spoke again in life? Across the street from the school on 46th and 4th Avenue was a corner grocery store called, “Dave’s.” When kids had money, they’d go over and buy candy. When school let out, I bought some red licorice coins with my fifty-cents. I never gave the most-recent owner a thought, finders keepers and all that. He probably never forgot me, the black kid that got his money. Maybe he appropriately singled me out individually for having took what was his? Maybe he held a grudge against all black people? I don’t know. I do know that even though this story isn’t inherently about race, it’s a perfect metaphor for what one aspect of racism looks like. Somebody got something that belongs to you, denied they have it, they benefited and you lost. If the boy had brought it up again I might even have gotten an attitude about it?

Fast forward a bunch of years, racism in practice doesn’t seem that much different although attitudes have changed. Racism is universally decried as a bad thing in the abstract, yet the benefits and costs are perpetually denied. It has also been redefined such that almost nothing qualifies any longer. In the aftermath of the Roseanne controversy. I’ve had discussions with multiple white people who condemn Roseanne Barr’s individual racism yet get very uncomfortable discussing its systemic nature. They are shocked… shocked to read her vile tweets, which are little different than her tweets gone before. They laud ABC for doing the right thing yet forget they knew who she was when they originally picked up her show. Roseanne says, “I am not a racist, I have never been a racist.” More likely true is that she has never been not been racist as an adult but it’s not of her I wish to speak.

Many white people are uncomfortable speaking about racism other than in an individual because they know they got the fifty-cents but can never admit it. Instead of red licorice, their fifty-cents went toward generational wealth, property ownership, and policies intended to protect those who have benefited from the rules that they put into place. There’s a class aspect of this as well as and poor white people have much to argue about regarding their treatment as well. Often those with the least are pitted against each other to keep them from joining forces but that’s another discussion.

I choose voter suppression as an example of how racism works today. The goal of voter suppression has always about maintaining power. Historically the Democrat Party has practiced it more openly and violently than the Republicans who have made it a mainstay of their current political strategy. It is also their strategy to say voter suppression doesn’t exist… “I don’t have your fifty cents.” I don’t mean to single out modern day Republicans, voter suppression cannot exist in a vacuum. Its tolerance in an allegedly Democratic society is because Democrats, Republicans, Independents and the courts, up to and especially including the Supreme Court allow it. Ultimately, all of their interests lean toward protecting the rich and making sure power remains in the hands of those deemed worthy to wield it. As the steady trend of demographics make America less and less white. All the more important becomes voter suppression along with a targeted immigration policy. America is looking more and more like South Africa trying to maintain minority rule.

Some of the arguments from white people I’ve heard recently include; “Racism ended after Jim Crow, why don’t you just get over it?” or “Wouldn’t you be better off focused on black on black crime or the illegitimate birth rate?” To the first question I reply, “Tell me when you believe racism ended so I can bring you up to date?” To the second, it’s an opportunity to talk about the racist policies that help create or perpetuate those real issues. People often say, “We need to have a discussion about race, yet there is the concern that the discussion will get back to, “What about my fifty-cents?” so mostly that discussion won’t be had.

As I write this, there are discussions about bringing back a spin-off of “Roseanne” without Roseanne Barr. By canceling her show and removing her individually, racism in America has once again been stamped out and life can return to normal. The problem is, it’s normal that needs to be fixed. #RacismAliveAndWell

To the little white boy on the playground, I apologize that I didn’t return the money I found. While I actually feel sorry about it and wish I had acted differently then. It is of no more consolation to you than thoughts and prayers. You may never have forgotten and I certainly haven’t, I owe you fifty-cents… plus interest.

How Black Panther Got Roseanne Fired And Why Others Need To Be Careful

Roseanne Barr made a racist tweet and within hours, ABC canceled her show. Her show was leading in the ratings and making lots of money, and none of it mattered. And it’s all because of the Black Panther movie.

Although ABC made an announcement about Roseanne’s tweet being, “inconsistent with our values,” I don’t know how credible that is. Long before she tweeted about Valerie Jarrett being the offspring of an ape, she referred to Susan Rice an an ape in 2013. ABC knew who and what Roseanne Barr was when they green-lit her show. They simply decided that what they really valued was money.

Roseanne has made several statements in the past couple days saying, “I am not a racist,” and “I have never been a racist.” I don’t doubt that she believes that in her heart. She and many others have redefined racism in their own minds such that almost nothing qualifies. Even her apology was racist, she said she was only joking about Valerie Jarrett’s looks when calling her an ape. But back to Black Panther.

The Black Panther movie just dropped $1.3 Billion with a capital “B” in box office receipts in theaters worldwide, stepping on toes and snatching edges while doing so. With the sequel in the planning stages, ABC’s parent company, The Walt Disney Company, has to be concerned with its ability to renegotiate to bring back Director Ryan Coogler, and get it’s mostly black cast to return including Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong and Letitia Wright and to ignore Roseanne’s racism as they discuss their salaries and future relationships with the company. Black Panther may have made some of them stars, but their marketability will now travel. It might get a little harder to say, “Wakanda Forever” with the bitter taste of Roseanne’s tweets in their mouth.

I wish I could say it was the threat of an economic boycott of ABC. They probably had as little to fear from that as the NFL did over Colin Kaepernick. They do need the ability to get deals done and to at least appear to have some of those values they referred to. If Black America ever did wield its economic strength like a sledgehammer, it would be something to behold! Quite a few celebrities are building their brand on “not being politically correct” or “telling it like it is.” They would be well served to pay attention to what just happened to Roseanne Barr. Just because your President seems to be getting away with it on a regular basis, doesn’t mean that you can or that he won’t eventually get his.

Roseanne Barr: “I Am Truly Sorry For Making a Bad Joke…”

When Roseanne Barr woke up this morning, she was the star of a controversial but undeniably hit television show. By early afternoon, her show was canceled, she’d been dropped by her agent, and racists everywhere are crying foul. In response to a political tweet about African-American former Presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett; Barr described Jarrett as the child of “Muslim brotherhood and Planet of the Apes.”

The outrage began immediately, Consulting Producer Wanda Sykes tweeted out she had quit the show. “ I will not be returning to @RoseanneOnABC.”

Co-star Sara Gilbert disavowed the tweet. “Roseanne’s recent comments about Valerie Jarrett, and so much more, are abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show.”

A couple hours later, ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey ended speculation about Roseanne’s future; “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show”

Throwing dirt on the body, ICM Partners her agents, dropped her as a client. In an internal memo they wrote, “ “We are all greatly distressed by the disgraceful and unacceptable tweet from Roseanne Barr this morning. What she wrote is antithetical to our core values, both as individuals and as an agency. Consequently, we have notified her that we will not represent her. Effective immediately, Roseanne Barr is no longer a client.”

Roseanne herself began a series of effusive apologies including one that said it was a “bad joke about her political views and looks.” She really should have run that apology by someone before issuing it. Racists on twitter are threatening a boycott of ABC and we’ve yet to hear from our President who she admires and tried to emulate. ABC doesn’t get a pass either for just now recognizing that Roseanne is abhorrent and repugnant, she was all those things before the tweet and you didn’t care. Trump has previously said that “Roseanne” was “about us.” I couldn’t agree more.

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