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Keith Knight responds to race card cartoon

The K Chronicle’s creator, Keith Knight, has responded to the protests at the Slippery Rock University (PA) regarding a cartoon he drew depicting an African-American with a noose around his neck while white characters accused him of playing the race card. Students complained to the paper and are organizing a peace march and protest.

On his blog, Keith writes,

A comic strip can be about more than cats eating lasagna or how stupid your boss is. Some of the best comic strips point out truths not only though humor, but through satire.

Many of my best strips involve real issues: Racism, suicide, war, disease. I mix those in with more humorous, less serious issues.

In the first panel of this specific comic strip, white people accuse a black man, who is about to be lynched, of pulling the race card. This is an exaggerated, satirical version of what we often see and hear in mainstream media: the victim gets accused of pulling the race card, which is an easy way to dismiss the real issues involved.

Students talk about experiencing real-life incidents of racism on campus, yet it is my satirical comic strip they’re protesting over. I’d like to hear what the students are going through. If this uproar causes the school to address those issues, then my comic has done its job.

Community Comments

#1 Jim Lavery
September/30/2009
@ 8:59 am

While this is a very funny cartoon it’s also true that ACTUALLY pulling the race card is also an easy way to dismiss the real issues involved–making the one(s)it’s pulled on the victim(s).

#2 Howard Tayler
September/30/2009
@ 9:16 am

And Keith does what the editor should have done in the first place — turns the issue into a teaching moment.

SRU needs to invite Knight to come and lecture.

#3 Tom Racine
September/30/2009
@ 9:48 am

There you go again, Howard…bringing rational thought and good ideas to the table. When WILL you learn. :) But, truthfully, that is the best outcome here…open dialog. With any luck, the administration of this college will immediately set something up, because once you meet and hear Keith, you know that he’ll open up very good discussions and exchange of ideas. And maybe teach some college kids about satire. (Man, were we EVER that young?)

#4 Wiley Miller
September/30/2009
@ 10:11 am

The problem with having an “open dialogue” regarding a cartoon is that comes down to trying to explain in logical terms the illogical abstract of satire. Most of these people DID understand the cartoon, but chose to zero in on a single image, take it out of context and put a literal read to it in order to feign offense and demonstrate their moral superiority. These types, regardless of political stripe, will never admit they are wrong or simply mistaken. At best, they will blame the cartoonist for not making it clearer. I’ve seen this scenario played out so many times before, and it’s always the same tiresome exercise in futility.

#5 Julie Negron
September/30/2009
@ 7:53 pm

I have to agree with Wiley because I usually do. However, I don’t disagree with Tom. I know…that makes me sound fickle.

But Keith would be “preaching to the choir” if he were to speak at that University. Or he might actually put himself in danger.

People don’t want to know that they’re either wrong or racist in any way. They just want to hear that they’re right.

See FOX News.

~ j

PS…I met Keith at the bar the night he crashed the Rubens this year and I could tell immediately that he was an intellectual force to be heard. I completely understood what he meant by the cartoon. I once did an editorial toon in the ’80s where people were slapping labels all over some goofy looking guy (liberal, right-wing, etc.) and got a ton of back-lash from both sides. It’s inevitable. He’ll get past this and be what I just said he is: A force to be heard.

#6 Eddie Pittman
September/30/2009
@ 10:01 pm

Oh, Julie! Did you just play the FOX card?!? :)

#7 Julie Negron
October/1/2009
@ 12:01 am

You KNOW I did!

But, remember, I’m being fickle. Which is a great FOX card to play. ;-)

You know they’re calling Keith every illegal name in the book, Eddie.

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