By Najee Ali
Comedian Wanda Sykes is the one who led the charge to take down Roseanne Barr of the ABC hit show “Roseanne.” Barr attacked former Barack Obama White House adviser Valerie Jarrett May 29 on Twitter, alleging connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.
In the tweet, Barr attempted to link Jarett to the Islamist organization Muslim Brotherhood and the movie “Planet of the Apes.”
“Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,” Barr wrote, using Jarrett’s initials and responding to a tweet accusing the former Obama adviser of helping “hide” misdeeds for the Obama administration.
Sykes, who has been one of the most talented comedians of our generation and a class act, also was a paid consultant on the “Roseanne” show, which was a No. 1 hit show this season, making ABC millions of dollars.
As news of Barr’s racist tweet began to make headlines across the nation, Sykes sent out her own tweet immediately, saying she would not be returning to the “Roseanne” show. That was the shot across the bow that got the attention of ABC executives.
Sykes had the courage and conviction to publicly take a stand against Barr and her racism and quit the show, walking away from a substantial amount of money.
And I’m not surprised. Black America is not monolithic. But when any African-American woman is compared to an ape by a white woman, it’s like someone talking about your mama.
Those are immediate fighting words and you are going to see black unity across the board when a racist incident like that happens. The entire village will rush to the barricades to defend and fight for you.
Sykes threw down the gauntlet. Within minutes of Sykes tweet, I sent out my own tweet to ABC and a press release to my local and national media contacts that said in part.
“Los Angeles based civil rights leader Najee Ali, CEO of Project Islamic HOPE, is calling for the cancellation of the ABC hit show ‘Roseanne’ and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to permanently suspend the Twitter account of “Roseanne” star Roseanne Barr.
Now I’m not trying to take any part of credit for ABC cancelling “Roseanne.” The truth is that one tweet by Sykes set that in motion.
But the reality is it was the collective effort of thousands of activists across the nation that put the nail in Barr’s coffin. The bottom line is when civil rights activists threaten a boycott with upcoming protests, activists who have a long-documented history of this type of activism is going to grab the immediate attention of sponsors and corporate executives.
They knew in this situation it was a black united front and our allies were with us as well. Barr had to be fired and within hours Channing Dungey, the president of ABC Entertainment, sent out a tweet stating the show had been canceled.
And with that Barr was gone along with more than 300 unfortunate cast and crew members. And I feel their pain. But it had to be done.
Dungey, who has been with ABC for years, was immediately hailed as a champion for civil rights for firing Barr and I’m glad she did the right thing. But what she did wasn’t heroic. Save that for Sykes.
Dungey did what she and ABC had to do. The truth is Dungey and her bosses at ABC are the ones who hired a racist and put Barr’s views back on the air giving her a platform to millions each week. After the first episode of “Roseanne” aired, President Donald Trump called Barr personally to thank and congratulate her.
So, I’m not throwing any shade at Dungey, but these are just undisputable facts. I will never thank the wrong people. The bottom line is Barr and her racism are gone thanks to Sykes and all the activists who took to social media with extreme pressure ABC couldn’t ignore. Mission accomplished!
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