Editor’s note: An editorial cartoon on the Trayvon Martin case that ran Tuesday has generated many responses, several of which appear below:
In light of all of the incredibly offensive, racist material on campus and online this week, I’d like to encourage every Longhorn to refrain from rushing to judgment or letting anger take over in the form of a knee-jerk reaction. In times like these, it’s very easy to have such a response, but the results are often short-lived and ineffective.
Our campus needs to come together as one and work to build a tolerant and understanding community on the 40 Acres. Instead of engaging one another online with inflammatory remarks, I challenge every student to reach out to one another in person and have effective, meaningful dialogue about the ways in which we can confront racism and inequality on our campus and in society at large.
Theater and dance senior
I was very disappointed to see The Daily Texan publish a disrespectful cartoon trivializing the death of Trayvon Martin. Since when do people use the world “colored” anymore? Why was this published? The cartoon was neither funny nor well-rendered. As a Texan, I’m embarrassed that The Daily Texan has joined the chorus of ignorant media in the wake of a tragedy.
I can’t believe The Daily Texan would run such a tasteless cartoon in Tuesday’s issue. Have we regressed back to the 1960s? I am disappointed in your decision to run this story in a city and University that is plagued with race issues. I hope appropriate action is taken and that editorial staff is fired or reprimanded for the cartoon.
Joel de la Rosa
Community member and UT alumnus
I’ll keep this short. “Yellow journalism” is defined as “a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers.” So, after happening across the Trayvon — not Treyvon, as you misspelled it in your abhorrent cartoon — Martin commentary you printed today, I was floored not only by the blatant racism but by your incorrect application of the term “yellow journalism.” My advice to you amateurs — since clearly you haven’t been keeping up with the play-by-play on the Martin/Zimmerman case — is to read. And then when you finish reading, start reading more. Why? Because that’s what real, objective journalists with enough talent to at least mask their bigotry do. They read first, think second and write last.
Even as an opinion piece, this comic is appalling. There was a 17-year-old boy murdered in all of this, and it’s the journalist’s duty to handle this kind of situation with respect and responsibility in deciding what to print, and sadly The Daily Texan did neither. Being that The Daily Texan is a student-run publication, we question the integrity and proficiency of your editors in making these kinds of decisions without experienced faculty and advisers to guide them in what is appropriate. After all, in the real news world, jobs are lost over mistakes like these just as this issue must be addressed by more than a simple statement from The Daily Texan. This has been an embarrassment to the University and the students who attend. We hope that, in the future, situations like these can be avoided by handling issues like these with much more sensitivity to life lost and the families and students who are mourning in this time.
President of the National Association of Black Journalists
We, as concerned students of the University of Texas at Austin, are appalled at the lack of sympathy and insensitivity The Daily Texan expressed in the cartoon it published yesterday. The Trayvon Martin case has sparked a national conversation on a number of issues, but it appears the Texan would like to reduce this discussion to a shallow debate and, in the process, dismiss the very real outrage and grief felt not just by the family but also by millions across the nation. Students at UT and concerned Americans across the country are in the midst of grief and are showing the courage to ask for a national conversation on a topic that has both plagued us for decades and has been very difficult to engage in.
We are disappointed by the tone and disrespect conveyed in this illustration and extremely disappointed our University-funded newspaper would add this stigma into the mix, especially at such a sensitive time. Though it seems ironic that this cartoon would run on the very day the University would announce a Campus Climate Response Team, it is only an unfortunate insult to African-Americans and their allies here on campus and beyond.
James Briley and Jasmine Kyles
Nutrition junior and journalism junior, respectively
Much of the criticism of the cartoon boils down to general displeasure with the case itself, not the editorial cartoon, which is doing what editorial cartoons do: taking a tepidly controversial idea and making it explosively controversial so the less-educated but more-enthusiastic crowd will be able to get in on the fun. There is a certain air of truth to the cartoon: The media often does frame stories in a way that allows you to easily pick a side or form an opinion because, let’s be honest, gray areas are not the American public’s forte.
So is the cartoon overstating that opinion to a bitter, if not tasteless, degree? It wouldn’t be an editorial cartoon if it weren’t. I get that some people are offended by the use of the word “colored” because it harkens back to a time when white people were white and everyone else was colored. But that’s seemingly part of the point of the editorial cartoon’s narrative: Viewership and readership statistics show the American public has a greater interest in white on non-white crime than any other combination. It’s not a particularly clever cartoon, nor is its message, media bias, remotely new. But if you want to be angry with the cartoon, be angry with its implied message (and typo), not with the actual case and extrapolated assumptions that frankly give the cartoon too much credit. And certainly don’t be angry with The Daily Texan, which has every right to run something neither it nor you may agree with. This whole ordeal kind of proves the fact that people are more interested in a narrative — newspaper runs “racist” cartoon — than the ambiguity of reality: opinion section runs somebody’s opinion.
Rhetoric and writing and radio-television-film graduate
Former associate editor, The Daily Texan
Stephanie Eisner’s recent cartoon on the death of Trayvon Martin is simply rubbish. As a Daily Texan reader, I have come to expect more from this staff. Regardless of what Eisner was trying to say about the racial tensions surrounding this case, the manner in which she did so transcends “provocative” and “shocking” to become simply “in poor taste.” A young man is dead and that is not a matter to be taken lightly. Mocking him by sarcastically noting how the media has framed him as “handsome” and “innocent” is just horrifying. I understand that Eisner is more so trying to provide commentary on the manner in which the media has portrayed the case, but her work has backfired. The real issue is the use of words such as “colored,” regardless of how powerful the artist attempts to make her work.
Please urge your staff to think about the painful past behind these sorts of words before they use them — even if they’re doing so ironically — and about the fact that even if they’re trying to make some sort of commentary on, say, objective journalism, there is a fine line between insulting the victim and criticizing the system. Though not a fan of censorship, work such as this has no place in The Daily Texan. Eisner is certainly welcome to share her offensive words or images on her own personal website, but she has many viewers disappointed with your newspaper’s lack of quality control.
Philosophy and radio-television-film senior