Category Archives: Viva!

Cartoon: What Racism Is(n’t) About

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This comic strip deals with the tendency of white people to argue that their personal purity of heart is the essential subject to focus on when the subject is racism.

And this is a tendency I entirely understand! I’m white; I know that emotional/denial place is so easy to jump to. Plus, we’re all humans, and being human tends to overlap a lot with being self-centered.

But it’s a knee-jerk reaction we should resist. And maybe cartoons like this one will help whites like me remember to resist.


A bit of trivia about the making of this cartoon: As I think I’ve mentioned, I recently turned fifty. And, technically, I have been working on this cartoon since my thirties.

You see, I write more cartoons than I complete. Very often, when I write a cartoon, I’ll decide that it’s not good enough to draw – but there’s still a seed of an idea there that I believe can work. In those cases, I’ll leave the cartoon lying around in a folder labeled “unfinished.” Every now and then, I browse old ideas in that folder, in case my brain comes up with a way to make any of them work.

So, in September of 2008 (so I was 39 and 11 months old), I made this layout for a cartoon. (I think I must have been in a hurry – you can see that I just cut and paste the same minimalistic lollypop-stickfigures from panel to panel).

I remember, when I wrote this strip, I thought “that” was a pretty devastating final line.

But when I looked at it again, a few days or weeks later, it just seemed too obscure to me, and might leave some readers scratching their heads. Would the theme – that the white character was entirely self-focused, ignoring what’s going on with the Black character – come through?

Plus, the comic strip was so static.

So it just sat in my “unfinished” file for an entire decade. I was too fond of the idea to throw it out, but never had an idea for fixing it.

Until I did.

The idea – “the comic strip starts out entirely focused on the white character, a metaphor for his self-involvement, and the view gradually widens until the reader can see what he’s ignoring” – is pretty simple. But I like it, and I’m pleased I waited a decade for it rather than drawing my original conception for the cartoon.

(Of course, now that I’ve said that, someone will tell me they think the original version was better. That’s always how it goes. :-p )

Transcript of Cartoon

This cartoon has four panels.


A middle-aged white man, balding, with glasses, a van dyke beard and a v-neck long-sleeved tee, is speaking. He’s in a park, with trees and grass. He holds one palm out in an “explaining” gesture. This is a fairly close shot, mainly showing his head and shoulders.

He is facing towards the left. An unseen person off-panel, on the right, responds to him.

WHITE PERSON: When you say I’ve benefited from racism, it hurts my feelings.

OFF-PANEL PERSON: Racism isn’t about your feelings.


The camera backs up a bit, but the other speaker is still off-panel. The white guy closes his eyes and puts one hand over his heart, as if he’s swearing a vow.

WHITE PERSON: In my heart, I don’t even see color!

OFF-PANEL PERSON: Racism isn’t about what’s in your heart.


The camera has backed up enough so we’re seeing the white guy from his waist up. We can also see, just barely in panel, the head of the other speaker, who is a Black man. They seem to be walking The white man is holding up a forefinger to make a point, smiling, and looking ahead rather than looking at the Black man. The Black man looks stressed and is sweating.

WHITE PERSON: My intentions are good!

BLACK PERSON: Racism isn’t about your intentions.


The camera has backed away enough so we can see both characters from head to toe. The white man, still looking ahead, is making another “explaining” gesture as he walks. The Black man is bent over double as he walks, due to the enormous boulder he’s straining to carry on his back.

WHITE PERSON: Well, if it’s not about my feelings, my heart, or my intentions, then what’s left?

BLACK PERSON: Do you even hear yourself?

Why You Should Actually Be Terrified Right Now

Why You Should Actually Be Terrified Right Now:





It’s what happened to Jews in Germany in 1938 when their passports were declared invalid. That is what is beginning to happen here, now, to Hispanic citizens along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Oh, is it bad to compare the GOP to Nazis? Well, if members of the GOP do not like being compared to Nazis, they should consider not behaving exactly like Nazis.

Hispanic U.S. citizens, some of whom were in the U.S. military, are not being allowed to renew their passports. This is reportedly happening to “hundreds, even thousands” of Latinos, according to a report in the Washington Post. They’re getting letters from the State Department saying it does not believe they are citizens. The government claims their citizenships are fraudulent. “I’ve had probably 20 people who have been sent to the detention center—U.S. citizens,” Jaime Diez, an attorney in Brownsville, told The Washington Post.

The Washington Post also reports on ICE officials coming to citizens’ homes and taking their passports away. This is an escalation from a few months ago, when Americans were detained by ICE officials just for speaking Spanish to one another.

The administration is currently launching an effort to take citizenship from people who they suspect of fraud in obtaining it. Fraud in these cases is exceedingly rare. The last time the government tried to strip people of their citizenship was, according to Columbia Professor Mae Ngai, during The Red Scare of the 1950s. As Ngai remarks, McCarthyism is not typically remembered as a good period in American history.

There is good reason to believe that this could portend still worse things to come for the U.S. Hispanic population, unless people begin to speak out loudly, and fast.

First, they came for the Hispanics and I did nothing.

Then they came for (fill in the blanks) and I did nothing.

Then, when they came for me, there was no one to do nothing.




DONT BE SILENT. PASS THIS AROUND. Let everyone know it’s happening!

Never again.

Black Security Guard Responding to Shooting Is Killed by Police

When racism is so steeped in the nation – this will happen again – even though it should not and even if this officer is prosecuted and convicted. It will take a very conscious effort to dig out and end this racism. The guard, Jemel Roberson, 26, wanted to become an officer himself. The police “saw a black man with a gun, and basically killed him,” a witness said.

Olga Neuwirth: ‘Austria is always the trailblazer for hatred’


A 1924 silent movie that predicted the horrors of anti-semitism has a new score by the Austrian Jewish composer. She explains why the bitter satire resonates so powerfully today

“Antisemitism is in the DNA of Austrians,” says Olga Neuwirth. “Maybe it skipped a generation but now it’s back – along with hatred for refugees.” We are speaking in a hotel bar in Vienna ahead of the premiere of the Austrian composer’s score for an extraordinary silent movie from 1924 called The City Without Jews, and she is worried about how it will go down with the locals.

After all, she says, it’s not long ago that anti-Muslim protesters interrupted a performance at Vienna University of a play about refugees, storming the stage to unfurl a banner reading “multi-culturalism kills”.

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