On the CBS show “The Talk,” co-host Sharon Osbourne defended her “friend” Piers Morgan after he stormed off and quit his show over the racist comments he made about Meghan Markle. In a subsequent episode, co-host Sheryl Underwood asked Osbourne about her defense of Morgan’s racist comments and how they would be construed by others. What ensued was nothing short of white fragility on parade from Osbourne, who felt like she was being targeted. After Osbourne’s blow up, the show went on hiatus to investigate her behavior.
“What would you say to people who may feel that while you’re standing by your friend, it appears you gave validation or safe haven to something that he has uttered that is racist, even if you don’t agree?” Underwood asked.
Immediately, Sharon Osbourne went into textbook “white woman victim” mode.
“I feel even like I’m about to be put in the electric chair because I have a friend who many people think is a racist so that makes me a racist,” Osbourne said at the beginning of the conversation.
In this day and age, it’s simply not enough for white people, especially white women, to just be not racist. Even saying you don’t agree with them isn’t enough. Remember, actions speak louder than words. Saying “I’m not racist” isn’t enough in a situation like this. Whether you agree with them or not, you shouldn’t be defending anything. You have to have an active conversation with your racist friend about their behavior and why it’s wrong. And if they’re unresponsive to your conversation, maintain your distance. Because if you’re willing to allow them to continue their racist behavior, you are condoning it. So if you choose to align yourself with — and defend — a person who is openly racist, don’t act like it’s a surprise when people think the same of you.
Sharon Osbourne’s response is classic white fragility. Instead of trying to understand why people would see her defense of Morgan as siding with racism, she wants proof of his behavior being racist. As if she’s trying to get them to say that racism is subjective. And she wants Sheryl Underwood to say that it’s okay to defend your racist friends. Basically, she’s looking for an excuse. She’s demanding examples from Underwood because she knows her behavior was wrong. And even though she’s verbally attacking Sheryl Underwood, somehow she believes that she’s the victim.
“I will ask you again Sheryl. I’ve been asking you during the break. I’m asking you again. And don’t try and cry because if anyone should be crying, it should be me,” Sharon Osbourne screeched. “This is the situation. You tell me where you have heard him say … educate me, tell me when you have heard me say racist things! Educate me, tell me!”
I’m sorry, what now? I know this woman did not try to tell Sheryl not to cry. First of all, who the fuck does she think she is to tell another person what to do? Sheryl Underwood isn’t one of her kids. She’s a grown ass woman and if she wants to cry, she absolutely can. And she’s the one who is being berated by an angry white woman demanding education. None of that is her responsibility. Sharon Osbourne’s feelings don’t take precedence over anyone else’s simply because she’s feeling some type of way about the questions being asked.
This should go without saying, but since it happens all the time, I’ll say it again. Black women do not owe white women explanations about what makes something (or someone) racist. If Sharon was so curious, she could have had a producer google it as they were going to commercial. Then she could have educated herself. If she is about learning, as she tries to imply, then she should know that she should be the one doing the research. Sheryl doesn’t have to educate her. Not when the information is right fucking there. And it’s not just Sharon Osbourne who does shit like this.
White women will be out here like, “I want to listen, I’m willing to learn.” And that’s wonderful. I mean, it’s also the bare minimum, but I’m not going to complain too much. But here’s the thing. You can’t say that you’re listening, and then dismiss what the other person is trying to say. And an active part of listening is shutting the fuck up and keeping your feelings out of things. That’s usually where white women make the biggest mistakes. They don’t want to shut up and listen. As soon as they start to have any negative feelings, instead of pausing, they go on the defense. Usually that defensiveness causes them to lash out, unfairly attacking the Black person who they’ve demanded labor from.
Of course, Sheryl Underwood then felt the need to soothe Sharon Osbourne’s hurt feelings. Again, it isn’t the job of a Black woman to make a white woman feel better. Especially not after that white woman has done harm.
“I’m talking to a woman who I believe is my friend and I don’t want anybody here to watch this and think we are attacking you for being racist,” Underwood said.
And that’s just it. At no point did the line of questioning ever explicitly state that Sharon Osbourne is racist. But her response to it and her treatment of Sheryl Underwood in her response makes her seem like she feels guilty in some way. So she blows up, is cruel to her co-worker and alleged friend, and her “friend” has to make her feel better? Make it make sense. Except you can’t, because that’s just how white fragility works.
You’d think after Underwood treating her with such care, Osbourne would stop playing the victim. But again, she didn’t. Because white fragility knows no limit. In talking to Variety, she framed herself as a victim in an extreme way.
“I felt like I was in front of a firing squad. I felt like a lamb held out for slaughter… They had me there for 20 minutes,” she said. My eyes rolled so hard, I was afraid they’d get stuck.
In the days following the confrontation, more of Sharon Osbourne’s problematic behavior on the show came to light. Former co-host, Holly Robinson Peete, alleged that she was fired from the show because Osbourne deemed her “too ghetto” to be on the panel. Of course, Sharon Osbourne is denying the allegation, but there may be more evidence to prove that it’s true. Which, of course it is.
But that’s not all. Earlier this week, journalist Yashar Ali published a report alleging that Osbourne called former co-host Julie Chen “wonton” and “slanty eyes,” among other slurs in reference to other co-hosts. “This story is based on conversations with 11 sources who spoke to me in 2018 and again in recent days about remarks Osbourne has made over the years,” Ali stated, going on to say that these sources didn’t want to speak on record because they “fear career retribution, signed a nondisclosure or non-disparagement agreement, or aren’t authorized to speak to the press by their current employers.”
Via Twitter, Ali also published a resurfaced clip from 2018, when Osbourne said of Meghan Markle: “she ain’t Black.”
After sitting with her bad behavior, Osbourne pulled the classic apology nonsense.
“I have always been embraced with so much love and support from the Black community and I have deep respect and love for the Black community. To anyone of color that I offended and/or to anyone that feels confused or let down by what I said, I am truly sorry,” she shared on Twitter.
Then she yet again went on to portray herself as the victim in the whole situation.
“I panicked, felt blindsided, got defensive and allowed my fear and horror of being accused of being racist take over. There are very few things that hurt my heart more than racism so to feel associated with that spun me fast!” she said, adding that “I am still learning like the rest of us and will continue to learn, listen and do better.”
Only time will tell if she actually learns anything, but I’m not holding my breath.
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