U of F Student Newspaper Cartoon Of Kanye West Labeled Racist, Causes Outrage

An editorial cartoon

that ran in the University of Florida’s newspaper the Independent Florida Alligator

on Tuesday (September 13) featuring rapper Kanye West and the word n**ga has generated

controversy and outrage from numerous student groups, who said the paper was reinforcing

stereotypes.

The cartoon played off of

West’s comments that “George Bush doesn’t care about black

people.”

West criticized the President’s

handling of the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts on a live NBC telethon on Friday,

September 2 during the “ Concert for Hurricane Relief.”

The cartoon, which ran in

Tuesday’s edition, featured West handing a playing card labeled “The

Race Card” to United States Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice.

Over the cartoon was a caption

with the words "N**ga Please!"

The artist who drew the

cartoon, Andy Marlette, said the cartoon was not meant to be racist and said

of the cartoon: "If anything it’s celebrating a black person who has really

done something great and represents the best of black culture," Marlette

said referring to Rice.

Independent Florida Alligator editor

Mike Gimignani said the paper has received numerous phone calls and letters

about the cartoon.

"(Marlette) is very

good at pushing buttons," Gimignani told the Gainesville Sun. "Unfortunately,

there is a little too much tied to this word."

Members of the black student

union and other campus organizations are demanding an apology from the paper.

“The recent editorial

cartoon with its associated editorial comment printed in the Independent Florida

Alligator demonstrated a need for further education on the balance of these

principles,” said Patricia Telles-Irvin, UF Vice President of Student

Affairs. “There was a significant disconnect between the two principles

and a lack of respect and awareness of our mission as an institution. Moreover,

the symbolisms utilized were hurtful and inappropriate; and regardless of their

original intent, reinforced negative stereotypes of individuals within our community.

This is unacceptable.”

Terry L. Mills, Ph. D.,

Associate Professor of Sociology and Associate Dean for Minority Affairs said

that for many, the word is not a term of endearment.

“Despite

the use of this word in popular media and the youth culture of today, many individuals

with a sense of history, justice and equality still find the n-word, and all

other symbols of hatred, to be distasteful and insulting,” Mills said.

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