Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ebonics cartoon fiasco



This is an editorial cartoon I did for Rebel Yell newspaper from the University of Las Vegas Nevada back in 1997. It caused some trouble for what I see now as obvious reasons. The cartoon was trying to illustrate how in my opinion we don’t need to teach our teachers how to understand and speak ebonics to communicate to African American students. I had read a story that some schools were doing this. Needless to say the irony of the cartoon was lost on the students. I received many letters and phone calls at the paper, all pretty much the same. “Alex Raffi is a racist and an idiot.” The newspaper editor was very supportive. (You can see the editorial response to this cartoon here) And I did have the opportunity to explain the point of my cartoon to some of the angered readers personally. But still I really felt bad about it so I decided to ask for some advice from someone I respected very much. Berkley Breathed, creator of “Bloom County” & “Outland”. Amazingly he offered me his advice. I learned a lesson early on that doing this kind of work is a privilege. Yo better be clear on what you mean. I still believe in the point of the cartoon but I executed it very poorly as Mr Breathed explained in his letter. (You can see the letter by clicking here).




Here is the response cartoon and some of the letters I received from angry readers. Just found this in my old files and thought I would add it. (You can click on it to enlarge for easier read.)



I really felt bad about it so I decided to ask for some advice from someone I respected very much. Berkley Breathed, creator of “Bloom County” & “Outland”. Amazingly he offered me his advice. This is the letter bellow.