The University of Minnesota‘s
student newspaper published a cartoon spoofing hip-hop in its student newspaper,
The Daily last week. The cartoon was drawn by former Minnesota Daily graphic
designer, Mike DeArmond. The cartoon depicts a young black man using typical
urban slang, denying that he impregnated his girlfriend, whom he accuses of
being promiscuous. In the background, there are such items as a bottle of malt
liquor and a poster of Tupac Shakur.
DeArmond says that his cartoon was inspired by
college culture, MTV pop culture and various rap songs. The newspaper claimed
that DeArmond was fired in the past week for job issues unrelated to the cartoon,
while DeArmond said that he continued to work until the last day of semester
last week. DeArmond’s cartoon, which was titled "Thuggish Ruggish,"
managed to get past even the Editor In Chief, Mike Wereschagin.
This is not the first incidence that a racist
cartoon has run in the paper. In October of 2000, the Daily published a take
on Spike Lee’s movie, "Bamboozled," which featured President Mark
Yudof in blackface. Some African-American students say the Daily should refund
their portion of student fees that support the magazine. The campus has 1,400
African-American students, which each pay $6.12 to support the paper. The total
would be $8,568, which supporters say could help support African-American student
groups on campus.
Shanna Orr, who is the the newspaper’s next president
and who is African-American said that the odds were "pretty good"
that the paper would not publish anymore parody issues.
Various student groups will meet this week to
discuss working with the newspaper to promote diversity. Below is the apology
that the Editor In Chief, Mike Wereschagin posted on The Daily’s website:
On Monday, May 15, a cartoon was printed on the
back page of The Minnesota Daily. Many in the University community have since
expressed how offended they were by the cartoon. I would like to take this opportunity
to tell readers that what was printed was not meant to be malicious, derogatory
or racist. I apologize to members of this community for any offense they might
have taken from the cartoon. I did not foresee how it would affect community
members and so I let it get into print. Those employed at The Minnesota Daily
work hard every day to serve the University community and I hope you, the reader,
can see that the decision to print that cartoon in no way changes the dedication,
commitment and abilities of those who work here.