It amazes us that in the year 2009, in what was supposed to be the beginning of a new era of race relations, a picture could get past editors to disgrace the pages of a major metropolitan newspaper, during Black History month nonetheless.
We, at the New York Association of Black Journalists, take offense to the New York Post cartoon depiction of two officers shooting a monkey and then saying, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill" The history attached to racial slurs connecting people of color to monkeys isn't new. In fact, the issue was brought up during the Obama campaign and clearly characterized by him as offensive. Yes, it is true that former President George Bush was often depicted as a monkey, but historical context is what makes this different.
How do you think the Jewish community would feel about the use of rats in any depiction of them? How do you think the Italian community would feel about being generalized with mobsters? Monkey slurs against Africans and African Americans go back to the days of early colonialism, when Anglo Saxon, Spanish and Portuguese conquerors used these types of drawings and descriptions to dehumanize black people so that their mistreatment and enslavement would not be viewed as wrong or sinful. The practice also took on more sinister roles later in history including during the slave trade here in the U.S. and in Hitler's Nazi Germany.
We, at NYABJ, demand both an explanation and an apology from Sean Delonas of the New York Post. We find it unconscionable that such a depiction, especially during this time, would be used in an attempt at humor or political satire. Would it be a leap to suggest that it is funny or ok to shoot the President, if this is who the chimp in the drawing is suppose to represent? We are not laughing.
We often hear Elinor Tatum, publisher of the NY Amsterdam News and Chair of the NABJ black media committee, say that incidents like this "underscore the need for more black-owned media in this country, to counteract the actions and insensitivities of right-wing or even so called mainstream media outlets".
We could not agree more. Shame on Mr. Delonas and shame on Mr. Rupert Murdoch who has allowed something like this to happen.
Gary Anthony Ramsay NYABJ President
Zachary DowdyNYABJ VP-Print