Toronto Star apologizes for de Adder cartoon

The Toronto Star has issued an apology for a Michael de Adder editorial cartoon that ran last week after a gang related shooting left two dead and over 20 injured – including a toddler. The cartoon depicted a toddler with a captions that read: “Injuries to expect before they are two: Boo boo from high chair; mark from tricycle; head laceration from a medium caliber bullet.” Readers objected to the use of the word “they” and the depiction of a black child.

The Toronto Star wrote:

Quite a few readers found the cartoon, coming right after the Scarborough incident, very upsetting. Some told us in letters to the editor, emails and phone calls that by portraying the child as identifiably black and using the word “they,” it fed into racial stereotypes at a time when emotions were running particularly high. Some even thought it was making light of the shooting, as though subjecting a 22-month-old child to this kind of violence (as happened in Scarborough) isn’t serious.

That was the last thing that de Adder, and the Star, intended to convey. In hindsight, though, we should have been more aware that the cartoon could be read in a way that would reinforce stereotypes.

In a blog post on Michael’s website, he dissected the creation of the cartoon and his thought process as he drew the cartoon. The original wording said, “injuries expected before children are two:” but he changed the word “‘children’ to ‘they’ because it looked better visually. And also, to me, it fit the flavour of the parenting books ‘What To Expect.'”

The gender of the child in the drawing also changed as news sources announced the 22-month-old toddler who was shot in the incident was a little girl.