Crimson White ‘Obama’s America’ Cartoon Perceived as Racist, Prompts Public Apology

The editor-in-chief of The Crimson White at the University of Alabama offered a public apology yesterday for an editorial cartoon appearing in the semester’s final issue that “has been perceived by many readers as having racist intentions.”

The cartoon depicts an Auburn University football player carrying the ball and racing with gusto past a hapless UA player who has missed the tackle and is collapsing onto the field. While the Auburn player remains faceless, the UA player’s dark-skinned face is visible beneath his helmet — his widened eyes seemingly linked to his shock at the opponent bolting from him and the ground smashing into him chin-first.

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It is an overt riff on the dramatic ending of the recent Iron Bowl — the annual late-season football match-up between the in-state rivals. The most recent Iron Bowl concluded with an Auburn cornerback (sporting the same jersey number as the player depicted in the cartoon) returning a UA missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown after time had expired — a game-changer of historic proportions that smashed UA’s national championship hopes.

In the CW cartoon, this scene of athletic failure (from a UA perspective) is also set against the backdrop of our current political climate, via the header featured above it: “This is what happens in Obama’s America.” The final two words — the name of our president and country — are formatted to appear as if they are literally oozing blood or at least dripping with impassioned disdain.

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Some readers’ social media reactions to the editorial cartoon have echoed those attributes. A local Fox News report says the paper “has been taking a lot of heat” online and on campus from those deeming the cartoon implicitly racist, politically misguided, factually inaccurate, simply mean-spirited or pure sour grapes over a rivalry defeat. According to Fox News, “One person said the cartoon ‘was literally the dumbest thing I’ve seen from them [the CW]. Why print that? It reflects poorly on all of us.”

 

 

5In respect to the charges of racism, the cartoon’s placement in yesterday’s paper is ironic. It appears directly adjacent to an editorial touching on the progress the university has made this semester toward the racial integration of student fraternities and sororities — an initiative jumpstarted by the CW’s own terrific reporting and editorializing.

CW EIC Mazie Bryant reminded readers of those efforts by the paper in “A Public Apology” she posted online yesterday only hours after the issue hit newsstands and the cartoon went viral.

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In her words:

The cartoon was meant as satire, but unfortunately it has been perceived by many readers as having racist intentions. We sincerely regret this, and apologize to anyone who was offended by it. The cartoon, in fact, was intended as a lighthearted look at some of the more absurd explanations given for Alabama’s collapse at the end of the Iron Bowl game against Auburn last Saturday. Many fans across the state took to social media and personal platforms to place blame for the team’s loss. To The Crimson White, and much of the student body, the blame was based on ridiculous and unfounded reasons. Unfortunately, many people have developed an unhealthy opinion that all of the problems the United States has faced is a direct result of the decisions President Barack Obama has made during his terms as president. To place blame for the problems of the world on one man’s shoulders is not only disrespectful to our country’s leader, but also a scapegoat, devaluing the real roots of the problems themselves.”

According to Bryant, a staff panel will be formed to ensure editorial cartoons receive greater oversight before publication. Bryant: “We will judge cartoons based on their power and meaning and decipher which areas need to be revised and expanded upon.”

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