The University of Texas‘ student newspaper, The Daily Texan, was accused of being racially insensitive when it printed a bias cartoon on Tuesday that belittled the Trayvon Martin case.
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The cartoon depicts a Mother reading a book to her child and referring to Martin as a “colored boy,” with an underline and three arrows pointing to it for added emphasis. The title of the book also labels the coverage of the Martin case as “yellow journalism,” which is journalism that is sensational or crudely exaggerated.
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The editorial board of the paper — who first stood behind the cartoon’s artist — has now apologized for printing the controversial cartoon. The artist has also been given the boot, reports the Los Angeles Times.
When word began to spread about the racially insensitive cartoon, tempers began flaring. How could The Daily Texan sanction such blatant racism and make light of an unarmed teen being brutally shot to death by a trigger man who felt threatened by a youth who was minding his own business?
Working on a school paper should offer lasting teachable moments, but a few people made some very poor judgements, and the editorial staff are now being called on the carpet. Seemingly backing up their cartoonist, the paper initially printed the following statement late Tuesday evening:
The views expressed in the cartoon are not those of the editorial board. They are those of the artist. It is the policy of the editorial board to publish the views of our columnists and cartoonists, even if we disagree with them.
Not good enough.
The media soon got wind of the blatantly racist cartoon. Its artist, Stephanie Eisner, who also spelled Trayvon’s name incorrectly, got lambasted as a racist about her tongue-in-cheek depiction of the Martin case. Eisner put forth the following apology on the day after the cartoon was published:
I apologize for what was in hindsight an ambiguous cartoon related to the Trayvon Martin shooting. I intended to contribute thoughtful commentary on the media coverage of the incident, however this goal fell flat. I would like to make it explicitly clear that I am not a racist, and that I am personally appalled by the killing of Trayvon Martin. I regret any pain the wording or message of my cartoon may have caused.
Protesters not only wanted to address the Martin depiction, but they also wanted to bring to the surface how African-American issues on the campus go continuously unaddressed and are marginalized. The school’s African-American population is only 4.5 percent.
Protesters called for those who approved the cartoonist’s illustration to be fired, but the editors decided to give only Eisner the boot on Wednesday and then posted the following apology:
The decision to run the cartoon showed a failure in judgment on the part of the editorial board, the board wrote. We made a mistake, and we understand that the outcome of our action extends beyond Tuesday’s cartoon and prompts us to reflect on a larger problem that persists at The Daily Texan and on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, something we should have done before Tuesday’s paper ran. We sincerely apologize for publishing the offensive cartoon and for the harm that decision caused, they wrote.
An editorial decision was finally made on Thursday, two days after the cartoon was published, to permanently remove the cartoon from the newspaper’s website. The paper also promised to hold a campus forum on race and diversity in coming weeks and to require newspaper employees to participate in a seminar each semester about the relationship between race and the media.
Want to know the kicker? There is a petition going around demanding that Eisner be reinstated to The Daily Texan’s editorial team.
A woman’s cartoon depicts a hateful degradation of the Trayvon Martin murder and there are people who are demanding that she be reinstated as a journalist? Racism is alive and well….
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