If Rosanne Barr was looking for an easy target to pick on this week, Valeria Jarrett is clearly not the one.
The newly unemployed comedienne had been riding high the last couple months due to the epic wave of support she received for the reboot of her beloved 90’s sitcom. She had new fans from the MAGA sector crowning her their television queen, and a President in the White House who loved everything about her conspiracy-theory spouting antics.
All you had to do was watch her smugly crack jokes about her love for Trump on late night television appearances to see how untouchable Rosanne Barr felt at the beginning of 2018.
Until she picked on Valerie Jarret.
For those of you who (still) don’t know just how much of a badass the former Obama administration senior advisor is, below is a checklist of things Roseanne probably wishes she’d known, before deciding to come for her.
Yep, she’s Black
Roseanne lost her empire over a racist Tweet, and yet is now claiming she didn’t even know her victim was Black when she wrote it.
But you’d think that someone with a platform as big as Roseanne would at least do a cursory Google search before attacking another public figure.
“I thought she was Saudi,” Bar tweeted after her show was cancelled.
Hours later, she posted a contradictory statement.
“I honestly thought she was Jewish and Persian,” she said. “Ignorant of me for sure, but… I did.”
Then when followers chastised her for not knowing Jarrett’s race, she tweeted: “I mistakenly thought she was white.”
For the record, BOTH of Jarrett’s parents are African-American.
And on the television series Finding Your Roots, genealogical research and DNA testing indicated that she also has some French, Scottish, and Native American ancestry.
She comes from a family of anti-racism trail blazers
Not only is Jarrett a Black woman, she also comes from a long line of high achieving Black people who regularly disrupted the status quo.
According to 60 Minutes, one of her maternal great-grandfathers, Robert Robinson Taylor, was the first accredited African-American architect, and the first African-American student enrolled at MIT.
Her grandfather, Robert Rochon Taylor, was a housing activist who became the first African-American chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority and built much of Chicago’s public housing.
Her mother, Barbara Taylor Bowman, is a celebrated early childhood education expert who has a street in Chicago named after her. And her father, Dr. James Bowman, Jr., was a groundbreaking pathologist and geneticist.
Oh, and the winning doesn’t stop with her elders either. Her daughter, Laura Jarrett, is an attorney and also reporter for CNN.
She was a mentor to Michelle Robinson (now known as our Forever First Lady Michelle Obama)
Many have described Jarrett as a former advisor for Barack Obama. But their relationship runs way deeper than that and actually starts with his wife Michelle.
In 1991, Jarrett was the deputy chief of staff to Mayor Richard Daley, when she interviewed a young woman named Michelle Robinson for an opening in the mayor’s office.
She immediately offered Robinson the job but was met with some hesitation.
“I called her up and I said, “Well, what do you think? We’d love to have you.” And she said, “Well, my fiancé doesn’t actually think it’s such a great idea,” Jarrett told 60 Minutes.
“And I said, “What?” And so she said, “Yeah, that’s right.” So she said, “But I really am interested. So would you be willing to have dinner with us?”
The three ended up meeting for dinner and forged a bond that would last for decades, all the way into the White House. After the dinner, Robinson accepted the job with the mayor’s office and Jarrett reportedly took the couple under her wing and “introduced them to a wealthier and better-connected Chicago than their own.”
They were so close, that when Jarrett later left her position at the mayor’s office to head the Chicago department of planning and development, her mentee, now the happily married Michelle Obama, went with her. Obama even even ended up buying a house a block from Jarrett in Chicago.
So Roseanne, in all her red-hat wearing glory, legit chose to pick on the person who literally helped shape Michelle Obama into the powerhouse she is today.
She’s a class act
Having the whole country talking about how you may or may not look like an ape can’t be easy. Even the most confident woman in the public eye could find herself wincing at that sort of hateful attack. But Jarrett, much like her colleagues in the Obama administration, took former First Lady Michelle Obama’s directive to “go high.”
In response to Roseanne’s tweet Jarrett said on MSNBC:
“I think we have to turn it into a teaching moment,” Jarrett said. “I’m fine. I’m worried about all the people out there who don’t have a circle of friends and followers who come right to their defense. The person who is walking down the street minding their own business and they see somebody cling to their purse, or run across 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. As you say, those ordinary examples of racism that happen every single day.”
She champions causes that speak directly to Roseanne’s “working class” audience
A lot of the original ‘Roseanne’ show’s charm was that it tackled issues like women’s rights, unemployment, and drug abuse in a way that challenged 90s audiences to rethink their views on marginalized groups.
Barr has often been seen (and marketed) as a voice for the American working class, a group of people that Jarrett has spent most of her career fighting for as well.
During her two terms in the administration, Jarrett championed equal rights for women and girls as chair of the White House Counsel on Women and Girls. She was an integral part of the administration’s efforts to raise the minimum wage across the country and to expand paid parental leave. And also pushed for criminal justice reform, which ended up being one of the few areas where the president found bipartisan support.
Even now, she’s continued her work promoting women and girls through the United State of Women (USOW) Summit.
Perhaps the greatest irony of all this is, in another time, the fictional, feminist character of Roseanne Connor would have probably been a big fan of Jarrett’s policies and strong work ethic.
Too bad Roseanne Barr had to open up her big mouth and ruin it for everybody, especially for herself.
Follow writer Blue Telusma on Instagram at @bluecentric