A political cartoon published in Wednesday’s Boston Herald has people calling the newspaper racist.
The cartoon mocks a very serious security breach that took place where a man jumped the White House fence and actually made it through the door of the president’s home.
The cartoon depicts President Barack Obama brushing his teeth in the bathroom of the White House, as the man recently accused of storming the building and getting past Secret Service security washes himself in the bathtub to the President’s surprise.
In the political drawing, sketched by resident Herald artist Jerry Holbert, the man in the tub is asking Obama if he has tried “watermelon-flavored” toothpaste, tapping into a stereotype that has ties to slavery, and how African Americans were perceived by white people in the 19th and 20th century. As Theodore Johnson wrote in an article for The Huffington Post last year:
With such deep and persistent iconography, it’s no wonder that disparaging imagery of blacks’ obsession with watermelon can still be found in our society long after slavery and the minstrel period. And much like then, it is used to belittle African-American people and their achievements.
Clearly, the Herald’s approach to the cartoon, and choice to revert to a Watermelon-flavored toothpaste follows that logic, and has people calling out the publication online.
“Can’t understand why Boston has a rep [for being racist],” one person wrote, after retweeting the cartoon.
In the archived version of a similar cartoon posted of Holbert’s work on GoComics.com, the toothpaste is raspberry-flavored instead of watermelon. The rest of the cartoon is pretty much the same.
Editors of the newspaper issued an apology for the cartoon saying they “sincerely regret if we inadvertently offended anyone” with the cartoon.
In this day and age, even the most racially unaware person should have knowledge of the watermelon stereotype and African Americans. Way to fail Boston Herald.
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