Valerie Jarrett Calls Roseanne Barr's Racist Tweet a "Teaching Moment"

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Valerie Jarrett

The former senior adviser to Barack Obama addressed the writer and actress's controversial tweet at MSNBC's town hall 'Everyday Racism in America.'

After a racist morning tweet by Roseanne Barr targeted at Valerie Jarrett led to the cancellation of the Roseanne revival at ABC, Jarrett has responded to the insult, calling it a "teaching moment."

On Tuesday, the former senior adviser to the president during the Obama administration, who appeared on MSNBC's town hall Everyday Racism in America, told the gathered audience of Barr's tweet, "This should be a teaching moment."

"I’m fine," she added. "I’m worried about all the people out there who don’t have a circle of friends and followers coming to their defense. The person who’s walking down the street minding their own business and they see somebody cling to their purse or want to cross the street, or every black parent I know who has a boy who has to sit down and have a conversation, 'the talk' as we call it, and as you say, those ordinary examples of racism that happen every single day. I think that’s why I’m so glad to be here this evening talking with all of you.”

Added Jarrett: “Tone does start at the top, and we like to look up to our president and feel as though he reflects the values of our country. But I also think that every individual citizen has a responsibility, too, and it’s up to all of us to push back. Our government is only going to be as good as we make it be. And as [the reverend] always taught me, you have to be — people on the inside have to push hard and people on the outside have to listen.”

Jarrett also mentioned that Disney CEO Bob Iger, whose company owns ABC, called her, apologized for Barr's comment and informed Jarrett that Roseanne would be canceled before the decision was made public.

In response to Jarrett's comments on the tweet, panelist Rev. Al Sharpton said it was "important" for ABC to make a statement by canceling Barr's show. "Because what I think we're dealing with is those that are still trying to turn us back into a day [when] that is considered normal." 

Panelist Sherilynn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, added that Barr's tweet "feeds into a very old stereotype that did not begin with her and did not begin with Donald Trump that dehumanizes black people.  When you dehumanize people, you can do anything to them."

Earlier in the day, Barr sparked a firestorm online when she tweeted, "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj." Roseanne writer and consulting producer Wanda Sykes wrote that she was leaving the show, ABC canceled the series and Barr's talent agency, ICM, dropped her. ABC also scrapped the show's "For Your Consideration" Emmy campaign in the wake of the post.

Before her show was canceled Tuesday, Barr tweeted an apology: "I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me-my joke was in bad taste." Barr also wrote, as she has done before, that she was leaving Twitter.

MSNBC's full town hall, moderated by Chris Hayes and Joy Reid, will air Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET.