Former advisor to President Obama, Valerie Jarrett, has called for a 'teaching moment,' in the wake of a racist tweet by Roseanne Barr that led to the cancellation of Barr's show.
"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," said Jarrett in an in an interview with MSNBC during a town hall focused on 'Everyday Racism in America.'
"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," she continued.
"Valerie Jarrett is someone who has a lot of dignity and class, and for her to be on the receiving end of such an unwarranted attack seemed completely from left field," said Hyeok Kim, former Seattle Deputy Mayor.
Kim hosted a local roundtable with Jarrett and Seattle Asian American Pacific Islander community leaders in 2013. She and her husband Michael Parham, a longtime supporter of former President Obama, have worked with Jarrett in the past and consider her a friend.
"I think Valerie’s message that this is a teachable moment for all of us, is an opportunity for each and every one of us to think about what is the role, what is the place I have where I can help amplify the need for a greater understanding and discussion of how racism and implicit bias is having an adverse impact on our society," said Kim who notes the timing of this latest incident with Starbucks nationwide implicit bias training on Tuesday.
“When we talk about teaching or teachable moments, I think it’s really, really important to understand that it’s one moment that has to be part of an ongoing effort," she continued.
"For myself, being an Asian American woman, being a person of color, I have had moments throughout my career where I have let a moment go, and I regretted it. I said, ‘I wish I had spoken up.'"
"We are seeing this still too often, now the opportunity is how do you shift it in a truly impactful way," said DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake, who worked for Valerie Jarrett while serving in the Obama administration.
Blake, who now serves as a New York Assembly member, spoke to KING 5 while attending a "NewDEAL" political conference in Seattle for local and national Democratic leaders.
"When we saw and read and what happened with the tweets, it wasn't just going after someone who has served the country, it was going after someone that's been a mother to many of us," said Blake who considers Jarrett a second mom. "It's inexcusable, it's unacceptable and it's just another reminder of how much further we have to go in the country."
While he calls the incident a painful reminder that racism still occurs, he says the goal now is to turn pain into progress.
"You can't move forward in this country unless you're going to have the real conversation about race and gender and equity and justice. We acknowledge the tweets were unacceptable, but what would be further unacceptable is doing nothing now," said Blake.
"We are seeing so much more now because of social media and because people have camera phones, but that should not be the only impetus for change and the reason why we're creating change, so whether it be training, whether it be accountability, whether it be a broader aspect in terms of putting resources into different initiatives, that's how we move forward,” he continued.