Comedian, writer, and actress Wanda Sykes announced her decision to resign from her position as a head writer on ABC’s 2018 reboot of Roseanne, following a series of racist tweets from the show’s star Roseanne Barr.
Sykes came into the public eye through her role as a writer for The Chris Rock Show in the late ‘90s. She’s since starred in dozens of TV shows and comedies, including Blackish, Broad City, Ice Age, and many more. Sykes also joined the team of writers responsible for bringing the popular sitcom Roseanne back to life in March of this year.
On Monday, the show’s star Roseanne Barr came under fire for a racist tweet aimed at Barack Obama’s former aide Valerie Jarrett, who is African American and was born in Iran. Barr tweeted that the Chicago politician and businesswoman is the result of when “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby.” She made this racist and Islamophobic comment in response to a fake news story claiming Obama’s CIA spied on the French president, even though Jarrett was not mentioned in the story once.
The portrayal of black people as monkeys or apes has deeply racist roots in America, something Sykes is no doubt aware of. It’s likely that this comment in particular inspired her decision to leave the show, though it’s important to note that Jarrett also has no connection to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Barr later walked back her comments, calling them a "joke," but the damage has already been done. Jarrett still hasn’t responded to the incident, and neither has ABC. If anything, the company's continued silence is more revealing now in the wake of Sykes decision to leave, showing just how little the network values black people’s dignity, even when someone is a member of their own team.