Re: race card

The letter I sent to the Globe & Mail’s editor-in-chief, comment editor, and Tony Jenkins:

Dear Messrs Greenspon, Martin and Jenkins,

The cartoon printed on Monday, February 18, attempts to take a stab at the substance of what an Afrocentric curriculum may look like. As many readers have noted, the cartoon is racist. I can imagine that, in your defense, you will say something along the lines of, ‘If we thought it was hateful, it wouldn’t be allowed.’ Mr Jenkins might assert that his cartoon is based on real life, and that it is only meant to shed light on a different viewpoint. After all, this is not the first time Mr Jenkins has expressed his racism through his art. On July 6, 1994 the Globe & Mail published a cartoon captioned, ‘Wisdom of the elders…’ This cartoon depicted Natives as drunken, smoking gamblers, passing on such “wisdom” to Native youth. A humourous turn of phrase, no doubt, in the minds of Mr Jenkins and the then associate editor of the Globe & Mail, Sarah Murdoch — but vile and racist, nonetheless.

In this latest cartoon, the ‘joke’, of course, is that knowledge itself is decisively nonracial and, indeed, can’t possibly be racialized — so the only way these schools would be “Afrocentric” is through the thick-lipped, ebonicized blackness of the teachers (and students).

In the cartoon, the key element of Afrocentrism is the ebonics (“S’up, dog?”), and this means that what characterizes African cultures (and the cultures of descendants) is the bastardization of proper, common standards of discourse (that is to say, knowledge), and therefore, behaviour. And this bastardization—this wanton inability to get it right—is all that separates the Afrocentric curriculum from the supposedly non-cultural, non-racial curriculum that gets taught in “normal” schools. So, not only are these Afrocentrists setting themselves apart, but they are going to ruin the ability of black students to interact with “mainstream” Canadians.

These assumptions and assertions, carried by the cartoon, are not only ignorant of the content of and debate surrounding Afrocentric schools, but wrong and deeply racist. Tony Jenkins and the Globe & Mail should apologize to all readers for printing this cartoon. It was not funny, it was racist. It was not enlightening, except to reveal how deeply racism is entrenched into Mr Jenkins’s art and the Globe & Mail’s editorial decisions. In addition, Mr Jenkins and those involved in deciding to publish the cartoon should attend anti-oppression and anti-racism seminars.

Awaiting your apology,
Noaman Ali

Yes, folks, letters can and will change the world. (Not.) this!

1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    AE said,

    February 22, 2008 @ 11:17 am

    I agree with you Noaman…
    This was a very racist cartoon and apologies are in order. In fact I wish we could organize a protest at the Globe & Mail’s offices.
    Here’s my letter to the editor…no response from them to me either…

    If it was true I am appalled at the RACIST CARTOON that ran in your paper on Monday Feb 18th, 2008. What a terrible shame that it happened on family day as well. The caricature depicted a black teacher with the words”sup dog” in a bubble. There needs to be a full out apology to the black community in your paper and in various media outlets immediately by your owners. The creator of this distasteful Cartoon should be fired and the editor of your paper should be fired and/or reprimanded. These images as well as institutional racism continue the trend to discredit Black people and other minorities in this society. Why would you print this? Do you want to be like those European papers who print racist caricatures about Muslims etc.?
    I am deeply saddened as a Black man in my thirties who was born and raised in Canada! I though this country was “different” than America and all the other countries but “the Great White North’s” true colors have come out!
    Wow. Sad day for me when I got this email from friends with the “cartoon attachment”!

Comment RSS · TrackBack URI

Say your words