Roseanne Doesn’t Normalize Trump-Supporting Racists. It’s a Documentary

Michael Harriot 04/07/2018. 9 comments
Roseanne Reboot Roseanne ABC Black-ish Black Television White Television Culture

Although I might be in the minority of black people, I am willing to admit that I love ABC’s reboot of Roseanne. I haven’t watched a single episode—nor do I plan to—but I like the idea that it exists.

As one of America’s foremost wypipologists, I didn’t enter this field of study because I find white people fascinating. Instead, I have always believed that the study of race and racism in America focuses too much on minorities. If we are really concerned with eradicating the disease of discrimination, we must focus on the common denominator in almost every instance of prejudice and bigotry in our country:

White people.

That’s why I love Roseanne.

In the post-Barack Obama era, America was all too willing to explain how racism was a thing of the past. After all, what could be a greater symbol of America’s progress on race relations than an African-American president? As soon as Obama took office, white people began collectively washing their hands as if they were brain surgeons who had removed a hate tumor.

Instead of realizing that prejudice was just hiding behind artificially whitened smiles, they pointed to Oprah, Tyler Perry and Olivia Pope as evidence that racism had gone the way of smallpox, the dodo bird and the upper lips of any Caucasians older than 32. But the rise of President SunnyD brought us back to reality. We now know that racists hadn’t gone anywhere; they were just biding their time.

It’s their turn now.

In this week’s episode of Roseanne, the show threw some shade at ABC’s diverse lineup when Dan, Roseanne’s husband, lamented, “We missed all the shows about black and Asian families,” apparently referencing ABC’s other minority-led sitcoms Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat.

The kickball-shaped comedian replied: “They’re just like us. There, now you’re all caught up.”

Hilarious, right?

Kelvin Yu, a Taiwanese American and television writer, took offense at the jab and posted a series of tweets that excoriated the show:

Yu is largely correct. The joke may not have offended some people, but ABC aired the funny-only-to-white-people quip less than a month after shelving an episode of Black-ish that addressed the Colin Kaepernick protests against justice and inequality.

Although the network insisted that it “mutually agreed” with creator Kenya Barris not to broadcast the installment of Black-ish because of “creative differences,” we all know why ABC didn’t air the episode:

It made white people uncomfortable.

This is why I like Roseanne and where I disagree with Yu. I’ve always wondered when someone would make the Real Housewives of Wypipo. I know there are people who believe that Donald Trump is a superhero who is secretly saving little white girls from slavery. (That is not a joke. Roseanne Barr actually believes it.)

If the entertainment industry can perpetuate negative black stereotypes, why can’t we have a show about white people who eat pound cake for breakfast and make racist jokes in the comfort of their own home?

By putting Roseanne on TV, ABC isn’t normalizing Trump-supporting racists, any more than Fox News normalizes mediocre, tapioca-pudding-flavored whiteness by including Tucker Carlson in its lineup. They exist. They are the whole reason we have a president whose IQ is smaller than the circumference of that herpeslike thing that keeps popping up on Michael Rapaport’s face.

I hope Roseanne is never canceled. There needs to be a weekly reminder that racism isn’t going anywhere. When Trump speaks about border walls and Mexican rape gangs, he’s speaking directly to the Conner family. When we scratch our heads trying to figure out who are the 30 percent of voters who still support the Citrus Hitler, we can just watch an episode of Roseanne.

That is the real America.

I actually wish it were true that a show about a family of mayonnaise Americans could “normalize” racism and hate. That would also mean that four seasons of Black-ish, seven seasons of Scandal, eight season of The Cosby Show and countless seasons of hundreds of other shows would have “normalized” blackness to the point where white women didn’t grab their purses in parking lots or police didn’t feel the need to put bullet holes in black bodies because they were so scared of us. But it doesn’t work that way.

America needs to see its reflection in this televised funhouse mirror to understand how fucked up it truly is. Black people also need to study white people in their natural habitat to know that nothing has changed except how they dress up their racism. I believe the show could be educational, like an alt-right Animal Planet.

I probably won’t watch it until they air the very special, post-Super Bowl episode when Dan loses his job at Walmart, blames it on affirmative action and finally uses the n-word.

I haven’t seen the script or anything, and until this controversy, I honestly didn’t know Roseanne was a sitcom; I always thought it was a documentary. My conjecture is simply a scientific guess based on the first rule of wypipology:

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