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Follow up on fall out over Holbert’s watermelon toothpaste Obama cartoon

Last week’s cartoon by Jerry Holbert placed the cartoonist in an awkward position of either admitting he created a cartoon with an historically racist reference OR plead ignorance of the connection between watermelon and African-Americans such as President Obama. Jerry went with ignorance.

But that wasn’t credible to a lot of people.

Here’s the cartoon if you missed it:

Boston NAACP Branch President Michael A. Curry called ignorance “unacceptable.”

?That?s unacceptable in 2014 that someone doesn?t know American history or culture enough to be a cartoonist or a reporter and avoid those stereotypes,? he said.

The State columnist Donnell Probst:

It seems as though Holbert expects his readership to accept that he, a political cartoonist who has spent the better part of three decades working for one of the oldest daily newspapers in the country and presumably stays abreast of current events as a requirement of his position, failed to see any media coverage of watermelon references made about Obama, as well as other African-American officials over the past decade.

What about the story of a California mayor who sent out an email showing Obama?s White House lawn covered in watermelons? This story was covered by Fox News, NBC News, CBS News, Huffington Post and the Los Angeles Times, as well as numerous local news outlets.

Yet somehow a Boston Herald editorial cartoonist scouring daily news developments to feed his political commentary missed this story altogether?

But Jerry has one defender. Whoopi Goldberg on The View defended the cartoon stating that Jerry truly didn’t know and that there is such a thing as watermelon toothpaste (which she says she uses).

Community Comments

#1 Dominick Marziliano
@ 11:52 am

When the hell did we start apologizing for our sense of humor?? Or did we just lose it all together?

#2 Carl Moore
@ 7:39 pm

@Probst – Yes, even political junkies – all editorial cartoonists are political junkies – who follow the news closely can, nevertheless, overlook a symbol or a loaded word in their cartoon that later seems obvious to everyone. I’ve done it. I suspect many cartoonists have done it. Give it a rest. It’s clear Holbert is not a racist. That’s the end of it.

#3 Terry LaBan
@ 8:22 am

Sorry, but that’s baloney. Whether or not this particular cartoon is racist–and I think it’s just poorly done–its a cartoonist’s, especially a political cartoonist’s, job to work with cultural signifiers. A political cartoonist who is unfamiliar with the racial stereotypes evoked by watermelons is either ignorant or incompetent or both. It’s like a doctor defending himself from a malpractice suit by claiming he forgot about basic anatomy.

#4 Keith Brown
@ 9:59 am

The cartoonist drew it but the editor printed it. ,…..Discuss

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