I can admit that I am an over-apologizer. I say sorry when I don't need to. I apologize for being in someone's way, I apologize after being corrected or notified of something I would've never known beforehand, and I even say sorry to inanimate objects whenever I bump into them. It's not that I'm actually contrite or even think the person (or thing) that I'm apologizing to expecting me to be; I just do it out of habit. My mother raised me to be polite and obedient. This world has conditioned me to "know my place" as a black person, as a woman and as a black woman.
Thankfully, I have learned to dismantle those limiting expectations from my psyche. But every now and then, I catch myself second-guessing my actions in fear of becoming the hostile black person or the overly emotional woman. Proudly owning, accepting and allowing my humanness is a daily work. When I witness others apologizing for their own discomfort inflicted by another, I can't help but feel disappointed yet sympathetic. Such is the case with Rosie Perez.
On Tuesday, during her guest host appearance on The View, Kelly Osbourne made a highly offensive comment about Latinos. In a discussion about Donald Trump's recent inflammatory and racist remarks on immigration, co-host Perez said that although many Latino-Americans agree "that the immigration problem is a problem," Trump's racist comments does not help. Osbourne attempted to add on to Perez's argument with her signature snark, but ended up being an epic fail.
"If you kick every Latino out of this country, then who is going to be cleaning your toilet, Donald Trump?" Osbourne said.
Whoa. Way to shut down racism with even more racism.
Osbourne stumbled over her explanation as Perez and co-host Raven-Symone called out her ignorance.
"Latinos are not the only people to do that," Perez told Osbourne, to which the British guest host snapped back "Come on! You know I would never mean it like that. I'm not part of this argument..."
Shortly after the show aired, Perez publicly (and unexpectedly) apologized to Osbourne for taking her "point wrong." I'm still unclear on the right way to receive such an awful comment.
"My apologies @KellyOsbourne, I took your point wrong-#Trump #Latinos. My bad. You're heart is so pure & righteous. I adore you. @TheView"
Osbourne, who apologized after Perez, issued a backhanded "sorry but not sorry" post on Facebook.
I want to start by saying I ALWAYS take responsibility for my actions. In this particular case I will take responsibility for my poor choice of words but I will not apologize for being a racist as I am NOT. I whole-hearted fucked up today. I don't want to bullshit anyone with lame excuses. Although, I was stopped mid-sentence by Rosie and couldn't finish my point I will not let Rosie take responsibility for my words. I should have known better as I was on The View and it was live. I've learned a very valuable lesson. It is my hope that this situation will open up a conversation about immigration and the Latin community as a whole. By the way I clean my own fucking toilets.
Despite her distasteful comment, Osbourne still manages to blame Perez for interrupting her point -- because claiming Latinos are the only ones who clean toilets is such an awesome lead into a great point. She acknowledges that she "fucked up" but she does not apologize for offending others. She doesn't even check her microaggressive racism.
It bothers me that Perez apologized for being offended by such an offensive comment. It bothers me even more that she shifted the issue from Osbourne's problematic comment to her sensitivity. Dear Rosie, you were not being too sensitive. Please stop apologizing.
Although I am disappointed in Rosie's unnecessary apology, I get why she did it. When you are a person of color, a woman, gay, trans or (even more stressful) all of the above, you tend to second-guess your feelings in favor of not disrupting the calm. Am I being too emotional? Too sensitive? Am I the angry black woman?
The dilemma gets even worse when your identity intersects with your relationship with the offender. In almost any scenario, one may find themselves apologizing for the actions of a loved one. Your friend or relative may not be intentionally racist, sexist or prejudiced, but in the words of Crissle West, "words mean things." It is possible to not be outwardly or directly hateful but still hold on to hateful concepts.
Coddling a friend or loved one's ego despite their ignorance does a disservice to your feelings and to their growth. Perez could've turned the situation into a learning lesson rather than shame herself for reacting appropriately. She may have robbed her good friend of a powerful lesson -- though she is totally not responsible for teaching Osbourne things a simple Google search can. Instead, Perez's apology reinforces the stigma that our problem with our problems is just that -- our problem. It reinforces the idea that marginalized groups of people should know their place and not challenge prejudiced ideologies.
Thankfully, Perez has now responded to the outrage surrounding her apology via Twitter.
"I tweeted at #KellyOsbourne in an effort to help keep her from spiraling after her unfortunate comment. I went overboard with my apology- #mybad. But I don't apologize for speaking up and calling her on it-mistake or not, it was offensive. And please don't ever question my support for mi gente... Ever." #boricua #enoughsaid"
From the keyboard of someone who knows unnecessary apologies all too well, can we all please be bold enough to call-out offensive shit? Can we turn awkward moments in which a loved one offends us with hurtful and ignorant remarks to moments of discussion? Sorry, but I'm tired of apologizing.