Can a N***a Get a Comic Strip?

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Via Andrew Sullivan, I see that a number of papers are either opting not to run Aaron McGruder's "Boondocks" strip this week or are running bowdlerized versions. The strip features a parody of The Apprentice in which candidates compete for a job with Russell Simmons called Can a N***a Get a Job? If your paper's one of them, you can always read it online. Since McGruder is himself satirizing not only reality shows but black-targeted entertainment he considers demeaning, the papers' squeamishness seems a little tone-deaf… like refusing to publish A Modest Proposal out of fear of offending the Irish.

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  1. Any newspaper opting not to run “Boondocks” is doing the discriminating comic reader a favor.
    McGruder is simply not funny, plus his drawings suck.
    If it weren’t for white guilt, McGruder would be a burger-flipper.

    Now, “A modest proposal” is funny. And I’m Irish… sort of.

  2. It’s not so tone deaf if you consider the inevitable offended mail they would receive. On the other hand, who’s going to care much if they don’t run the strip for one day?

  3. NOT HAKEEM!!

    But yeah, if you’re an editor, and you’re not in the mood for a fight, and you KNOW that this cartoon is going to get you a mountain of letters from idiots accusing you of racism, you might make that decision too.

  4. It seems to be the sort of thing you’d expect McGruder to do, if you’re familiar with his work and decide to run it in your paper. It’s true he’s not really all that funny, and often delves into obscurity that only someone immersed in “black culture” has a hope of “getting”. But lots of other comics are rarely funny, and at least McGruder doesn’t pander to his readers.

  5. But lots of other comics are rarely funny, and at least McGruder doesn’t pander to his readers.

    He doesn’t? If he’s ever expressed a thought that hadn’t already made the rounds through the left-wing circles a hundred times before it got to him, I’ve never seen him do it. So unless his strip is mostly read by moderates and right-wing masochists, I’d say he panders to his readers.

  6. I think the ban is the result of the editors not “getting” the “black culture” sense of the fake show’s name.

    They seem to be reading “Can a N****r get a job?” like a science project, “Can a potato power a light bulb?” That would be offensive, and I’m pretty sure it’s a question McGruder would not be asking.

    The phrase is supposed to be read like the line in the Sprite ad, when the black spokes-doll-guy asks, “Can a brother get a minute?”

    Who would have guessed that the people who decide “Family Circus” should still be running would turn out to be so out of touch with modern sensibilities?

  7. Tone-deaf indeed. I usually dislike Boondocks, but this series has been pretty funny.

  8. You know, if you move the scroll bar up and down really fast, it looks like there’s a hot chick with Ralph Nader’s head.

  9. “Any newspaper opting not to run “Boondocks” is doing the discriminating comic reader a favor.
    McGruder is simply not funny, plus his drawings suck.
    If it weren’t for white guilt, McGruder would be a burger-flipper.”

    Thank you.

    FUCK the “Boondocks”
    I wish my paper didn’t run it.
    I have to exert myself not to read it every day.
    Too bad my town’s got too many uppity negroes for the paper to get rid of it

  10. I took a look at this week’s Boondocks strips, and maybe the editors decided something must be up when they noticed that they were funny.

  11. andy,
    You may be jerking Mary’s bobber, but, to illustrate how many N****s may or may not be my friends, I also hate Marmaduke.

  12. That shit was funny! Now whats wrong with Hakeem smoking the refer in the boardroom? The brotha has sickle cell for fuck’s sake! Shit, I’d sue Russell under the American’s with disablitlites act for firing a homey needing medical ganja, then we’ll see who’s ass gets fired!!!

  13. Personally I wish McGruder should have taken a lesson from an issue of Christopher Priest’s “Quantam & Woody” (http://phonogram.us/comics/qwoody.htm) in which all referances to the N-word were replaced with the word. “Noogie.”

  14. McGruder is simply not funny, plus his drawings suck.

    They’re not his drawings; he doesn’t draw the strip anymore. As long as we’re on the subject of lazy n****s.

    That having been said, I agree with Jesse – this week has been the strip’s best stretch in quite some time.

  15. McGruder is simply not funny, plus his drawings suck.

    They’re not his drawings; he doesn’t draw the strip anymore. As long as we’re on the subject of lazy n****s.

    That having been said, I agree with Jesse – this week has been the strip’s best stretch in quite some time.

  16. Don’t know anything about reefer in the boardroom but I wish one of those dicklickers on Trump’s show would reach over and light that wolfman’s hair on fire one of these days.

  17. Boondocks is pretty damned funny. I defy anyone to name a funnier comic strip that’s currently running, aside from Foxtrot.
    Forget his politics. I’d read a comic strip by Kim Jong Il if it was well-done. Which it wouldn’t be, because he obviously lacks a sense of irony. But you get what I’m saying.

  18. “I defy anyone to name a funnier comic strip that’s currently running, aside from Foxtrot.”

    Pearls before Swine

    Sherman’s Lagoon

    Dilbert

    And that’s just in my paper…

  19. “I defy anyone to name a funnier comic strip that’s currently running, aside from Foxtrot.”

    Get Fuzzy

  20. Psuedo is slightly off-topic as usual. Political Correctness has gone too far. TRonight I ordered black coffee from a black waiter, and stopped to try to figure out if there was anything offensive about that. There isn’t of course, but ir seemed like there should be.

    Sad.

  21. Psuedo is slightly off-topic as usual. Political Correctness has gone too far. TRonight I ordered black coffee from a black waiter, and stopped to try to figure out if there was anything offensive about that. There isn’t of course, but ir seemed like there should be.

    Sad.

  22. “I defy anyone to name a funnier comic strip that’s currently running, aside from Foxtrot.”

    The cutting edge satirical tour-de-force that is Family Circus…

  23. I don’t think there was anything wrong with the use of the N-word in this context, but I can’t fault any editor who wants to avoid the inevitable controversy from people too stupid to get the context.

    Remember the white DC city gov’t staffer who had to leave his job for using the word “niggardly” in earshot of some idiot who got upset? I remember reading in the paper that one of irate person, upon learning that the word comes from a Scandanavian root and is unrelated to the etymology of the n-word (from a Latin root meaning “black”), said (paraphrase) “well, maybe it is Scandanavian, but where did they get it from?”

  24. Joe-

    ?I think the ban is the result of the editors not “getting” the “black culture” sense of the fake show’s name.?
    Doubtful, I think they are quite aware that they operate in a climate where something as mundane as using the word niggardly can cost someone their job and possibly career. Meaningful discourse about race and racism is nearly impossible, at least where I work and live. One example among many; a colleague of mine told me he thought it was impossible for a kid to grow up in a state like Idaho (unaware that I spent my entire childhood there) where there are relatively few minorities and not be a racist. I was very upset; I ate lunch with this guy every day, collaborated on many projects, and otherwise considered him my friend. When I called him on his obvious prejudice the group at lunch that day began falling all over themselves, letting me know I gone too far. God forbid a white man would point out a black man?s prejudice, idiots.

  25. Damn these new comic artists. Why do they have to write these politically motivated, unfunny scenarios? Why don’t they show something truly humorous like dysfunctional marriage or severe alchohol abuse?

  26. I just read the strips and thought they were hilarious, but I’m not surprised some oversensitive people would ban them. Look at how many schools won’t teach Huck Finn because it is “racist.” I wouldn’t be surprised to learn some public libraries won’t carry it, either.

  27. Frobenius —

    Having lived in both Idaho and North Carolina, having taught both among the Mormons and at an Historically Black College, can I suggest to you that you maybe rethink your position?

    The Mormons I taught were very nice and very well intentioned people. However, they knew, essentially, no black people at all. They’d seen one or two in person, and they’d seen black people in movies. They were not by intention racist: they simply had no way not to be racist, as all their knowledge of black culture had been formed by what they knew of black culture via the media — which, you might have noticed, presents black people as gang members, criminals, killers, junkies, welfare queens, and losers — oh, certainly, with an occasional Cosby lawyer thrown in, here and there, but that example is overwhelmed by the sheer number of blacks they see doing harmful, violent things. It was hard for them to conceive of a black person not being one of those things.

    Yes, it’s silly that people get upset by the word “niggardly,” which you and I, being educated people, know has no etymological connection to the word “nigger” at all. Yes, it’s very silly that black people are so touchy about things like that. Yes, black people shouldn’t be so sensitive about white people possibly being racist — but having taught four years at a black university, I have to tell you that black people live in a world that is immensely different from the one you live in. If they’re touchy, it is because they are, in fact, always being looked at, not as people, but as blacks — as, in fact, niggers. Maybe not by you: but by a giant percentage of the people they meet.

    They react, in other words, as though many things directed at them are racist things, because many of the things being directed at them, all through their lives, *are* racist.

  28. Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbs and Boondocks; well crafted, intelligent cultural icons of our generation.

  29. I guess most of the people who post on this blog actually are as shallow as they seem. If you think anyone to the right of Ted Kennedy can’t enjoy “Boondocks”, you need to: A) get a sense of humor and B) read the effin’ strip more than once. It’s the favorite comic of my 67 year old, Army-lifer, vote-straight-Republican ticket, father for Pete’s sake! “Boondocks” goes after Democrats and black activists almost as often as Republicans, and the strip’s most savage humor is certainly reserved for black popular culture. (“So in the spirit of Black History Month, and in honor of BET, “Boondocks” proudly presents a black woman’s gyrating behind.”)

  30. “Non Sequitur” is by far and away better than “Boondocks,” but comes in close second to (tie)
    “Foxtrot” and “Get Fuzzy.”

  31. Right on, Jack! “Boondocks” is one of the wittier strips around. I am pro-Bush, but after Sept. 11, when the anti-Bush political cartoons were totally humorless and tone-deaf (remember Ted Rall drawing Bush as a military dictator over and over and over again…?), McGruder’s strip was the only anti-Bush stuff that was actually funny. The PC crowd just can’t stand that McGruder doesn’t fit with their one-note idea of black alienation.

  32. “They react, in other words, as though many things directed at them are racist things, because many of the things being directed at them, all through their lives, *are* racist.”

    The racism that black people face does not excuse the environment where someone can get fired for saying “niggardly”. There’s no way we can ever effectively deal with race in this country if people act so childish and immature over anything perceived to be “racist”, completely ignoring the inconveniences of reason and rationality.

    But i guess i “don’t understand”, seeing as how I’m white…

  33. Banning the strip because you’re stupid is one thing. Banning it even though you believe in it and think it’s funny is something much more sinister.

    This is the kind of thinking that will usher in the Fourth Reich.

  34. They’re about as tone-deaf as the shitheads who think Huckleberry Finn is a “racist” novel because it uses the n-word.

    Or more likely, they just fear some of their readers are that stupid. Given the flap over “niggardly,” mentioned above by thoreau, it’s just as well to play it safe.

    I like the Boondocks, on the whole. I think the strip really appeared on the national radar screen when MacGruder did his “Flaggie and Ribbon” series after 9-11. He also had Huey calling up the FBI’s terror hotline to report Reagan for arming the Mujaheddin. “That’s R-E-A-G-A-N….”

  35. delagar,
    We need a new topic about racism, but I have a theory it’s partly a function of the relative numbers of ethnic backgrounds.
    If an ethnic group is an insignificant percent of the dominant ethnic group, then it’s not perceived to be threatening, therefore there is no “racism.”

    Now, with regard to suggestions, above, of funny comics–as opposed to Boondocks–I agree with all. (I noticed nobody disagreed with Mary Worth about Marmaduke.)
    To you apologists for Boondocks, comics are for fun. I’m not going to read 100 crappy strips in hopes of finding one funny one.

  36. Calvin and Hobbes is funny, Dilbert is funny. Boondocks is rarely funny. I think I have read about 15 of them. The only funny one was one where GW said that books were “Laura’s thing”. But I don’t think that joke was his.

  37. Shorter Delagar:

    “Dude, think about it. You’re from Iowa. You really are racist.”

  38. And the sad thing is that I don’t like Boondocks at all, but that one is funny. The facepalm at the end does it for me.

  39. Idaho, Iowa, one of those I states. I should not post while sick…

  40. Eric the whatever,
    Idaho and Iowa are not “one” of those states.
    We residents of inland states are willing to make allowances for you while you’re sick, but you will be needing to do some Hail Mary’s pretty soon for restitution. (Is it “restitution”? I’m not Catholic.)
    What the hell’s afflicting you, after all?
    Maybe we could help.

  41. Idaho, Iowa, Illinois. Definitely members of a set…the set of states smaller than the average county in my state of Texas. 😉

    And my doctor claims its a sinus infection. We’ll see.

  42. ?They were not by intention racist: they simply had no way not to be racist, as all their knowledge of black culture had been formed by what they knew of black culture via the media?
    Sharing his prejudice doesn?t excuse it. Lets also be clear there is a difference between racism and prejudice. My parents taught me not to judge people based on something as silly as skin color. I haven?t and it has worked well for me so far. Interestingly the most racist kid I met growing up moved to Idaho from Tennessee. The first time he said something like ?niggers are this way, or will do this kind of thing? I called him on it. He said I was ignorant because I had not grown up with any blacks and I had no way of knowing how bad they could be. Again, people are taught prejudice and racism by people they trust. Even the most inept know that what they are shown on TV reflects reality in only a very superficial way. I liked Jack Benny reruns as a kid (strange), I never thought blacks were anything like his butler. On another occasion I was talking about how I loved Idaho with an ethnically Haitian colleague of mine. In a very off hand way she interjected that ?of course I wouldn?t be afraid to travel around rural Idaho, I?m white?. Idaho has always been a racially tolerant state relative to the shit that has and does gone on in the south. Idaho is one of a handful of states that does not have any record of lynching. In 1889 the constitution was amended to outlaw segregated classrooms. In 1959 they repealed all the constitutional previsions that prevented mixed marriages. There are very few blacks in Idaho, however I know a family that has been there for three generations (must be four by now). A very prominent white supremacy group tried to set up shop in north Idaho. For a few years they would parade in downtown Coeur de? Lane; a couple of thousand onlookers always showed up to pitch garbage at them. The compound was eventually taken in legal action and was tuned over to a human rights group. I am certain racism runs deep in many places and cultures. What I am finding more and more difficult to swallow is how it is tolerated in more educated circles when it comes from minorities. The next time I hear the word reverse racism I am going to sock them in the mouth. Bigotry is bigotry even if you are not white.

  43. Eric the +#$@&* Texan has a ten-gallon sinus infection.
    That’s common up here in Sinincincinnati, often referred to as sinus valley.
    What is it with sinus infection?
    There is major mischief working like wine fermenting, and so close to the old gray matter.
    Should DDT be re-legalized and sold over the counter as a nasal spray?

  44. I think that, normally, the brims of the 10 gallon hats all New Texicans wear act like salad bar sneezeguards, making sinus infections rare in Baja Oklahoma. That, and the ice fishing season down that way is pretty short.

    Kevin

  45. “Calvin and Hobbes is funny, Dilbert is funny. Boondocks is rarely funny. I think I have read about 15 of them.”

    Calvin and Hobbes is funny like Dick Van Dyke was funny. Nice and lily white safe. Dilbert. Sure, once again about some white folk I would kill myself to avoid. But I do like to laugh at them. While I sit at the Green Dolphin, drink my scotch, listen to jazz and laugh at all the white zombies I saw in downtown Chicago who remind me of dilbert.

    Boodocks is funny. I have been a devout fan of the annoying artist.

    Your whiteness is showing. Pull down the shades you all offend me. Go back to Europe, would you already.

  46. “My parents taught me not to judge people based on something as silly as skin color.”

    “Again, people are taught prejudice and racism by people they trust.”

    Being taught to be tolerant of people despite their skin color is not the same thing as being un-prejudiced towards black people. I know this from personal experience.

    When I went to college in DC, I was already very liberal on racial issues – I had been deeply absorbed the civil rights revolution’s ideas, despised racial hatred and stereotypes, and believed strongly in racial equality.

    But I still myself, surprisingly, a little uncomfortable being a 90% black city, where I’d often be the only white face in a public place, or have black people in positions of authority. Not because I was afraid of or hostile towards black people, but because growing up in a lily white suburb in Massachusetts made such experiences novel to me.

    Now, because I hadn’t been indoctrinated in racism, and had in fact drunk deep the integrationist cool aid, it wasn’t very hard for me to get my head around my situation. But nonetheless, roommates who had grown up in more integrated places certainly stepped more easily in certain situations than I did, at least initially.

  47. “Being taught to be tolerant of people despite their skin color is not the same thing as being un-prejudiced toward black people.”

    As I said “My parents taught me not to judge people based on something as silly as skin color.” I don’t recall them every teaching tolerance. They taught me to judge people based on character and ideology not skin color. I don’t know how this could be considered prejudice. The Idea of prejudice is that you might judge someone on an external quality before you know any defining character traits. From what I can tell this was pure pragmatism on their part. I believe, as I am sure they do, that to judge someone on external qualities will be, in most instances, remarkably unhelpful.

  48. True enough, but you’re missing my point – growing up in Idaho or suburban Massachusetts, you can learn plenty of progressive racial ideology (don’t judge people by their skin color, we’re all the same inside, race hatred is evil) on the theoretical level, but you’re liable to have a complete absence of actual socialization into mixed-racial situations. The closest thing you’re likely to get is what you see on the mainstream media, and thus, you can still be walking around with quite a bit of baggage on a subconscious level.

  49. Similarly, what you learn about racism and racists in liable to be what you see in the media, since there will be very few opportunities for you to see racism in action. And since the media usually treats issues of racism with a huge club over the head (Klansmen in sheets), angry old white men yelling the n-word, news reports of James Byrd’s lynching), it is easy to miss actual racist dynamics as they play out in the real world, because the subtle, genteel variety that is more common (especially in middle class and wealthy circles) doesn’t look or sound like what you were taught racism was.

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