Cartoon for MLK Jr Day

This cartoon was posted today on The Nib.


If you enjoy my cartoons, and can spare it, please support them on Patreon! A $1 pledge means a lot.


The legacy of MLK Jr. is awe-inspiring, but cannot be summarized in a single line. He was a radical who somehow, in many Americans’ memories, has morphed into a moderate.

Or even, in some cases, a right-winger. The specific thing that inspired this cartoon was a Facebook post from Sarah Palin. This was in 2014, so the president she was addressing was Barack Obama. Here’s what Palin posted:

Happy MLK, Jr. Day!

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mr. President, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and all who commit to ending any racial divide, no more playing the race card.

Oy vey.


Transcript of cartoon:

PANEL 1
A Black woman sits in an armchair, holding a little baby. The baby is crying.
CAPTION: MLK Jr was born.

PANEL 2
A young Black boy sits up in bed, in a dark bedroom, clutching his blanket.
CAPTION: Then he had a dream.
BOY: I had a dream that someday our children would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin! So stop playing the race card!
OFF-PANEL VOICE: Martin, go to sleep!

PANEL 3
Panel three shows a graveyard, The gravestone in the foregound has, carved on it, “Martin Luther King Junior. “Stop Playing The Race Card.”
CAPTION: And he NEVER said or did anything else EVER. And then he died. The end!

CAPTION AT BOTTOM OF STRIP: THE LIFE OF MLK JR (AS TOLD BY WHITE PEOPLE)

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Race, racism and related issues, Racism. Bookmark the permalink. 

11 Responses to Cartoon for MLK Jr Day

  1. 1
    Gerald says:

    white supremacist ideology IS the foundation, source and fuel of American racism!
    AND willful ignorance is not BLISSful … just plain stupid!
    The “stupid” is far too strong in too many “real” Americans!

  2. 2
    JutGory says:

    MLK: don’t judge me by my skin color, judge me by my character.

    Modern Progressive: don’t say you are color-blind; if you can’t see that I am black, you can’t see me.

    Who is racist? Progressives. They obsess over race, just like their Democratic predecessors .

    -Jut

  3. 3
    Harlequin says:

    JutGory: there is a difference between noticing race and judging based on race.

  4. 4
    JutGory says:

    Harlequin,
    Sure, There is a difference. It is the difference between having black friends, and noticing your friends are black.
    Funny, Amp just did a cartoon indicting people who don’t notice race (sorry, can’t double check language on my phone mid-comment). Progressives seem to insist not noticing race is dumb. Progressives seem obsessed with race. They are racist.

    That’s okay. I notice eye color. I don’t judge people based on that, but I can’t not notice those green-eyed people.
    -Jut

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    Jut, I don’t find your contributions to this thread thoughtful or interesting. Don’t post here again.

  6. 6
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    NPR had a good bit more about the civil rights movement.

    My assumption (which may be wrong) is that NPR is majority white people. Should they be counted as not white?

  7. 7
    Ben David says:

    Harlequin, could you explain more about the “difference between noticing race and judging based on race”.

    I’m especially puzzled with regard to the following:

    – blanket statements that all white people are inescapably racist, especially when used as political levers to promote certain policies or shut up political speech. Is the problem that we’re not noticing race enough – or too much?

    -Promotion of under-qualified African-Americans ahead of better-qualified candidates, in academia and the work world. Would MLK say that these African Americans are being “judged on the basis of their character”?

    Thanks for the clarifications!

  8. 8
    irisclara says:

    Ben David, I don’t think you understand how affirmative action is supposed to work. It isn’t about choosing less-qualified minority candidates over more qualified White candidates. It’s about when several candidates have equivalent qualifications. The assumption that White candidates are always the most qualified is common but wrong. Whites benefit from affirmative action as well. Just ask Asians about enrollment quotas at Ivy League schools for example.

    It isn’t just all White people who are racist. All people are racist. Even Black people are racist. White people are even racist against other White people, as in anti-Irish or anti-Slav. Hutus are racist against Tutsis. Han Chinese are racist against Koreans. It’s all injustice to fight against.

  9. 9
    Ampersand says:

    It’s worth noting that although the term “affirmative action” was not widespread in his lifetime, MLK Jr did favor what we would now call affirmative action programs.

    In fact, King’s organization ran an early AA program. Here’s how Dr. King described it:

    Operation Breadbasket is carried out mainly by clergymen. First, a team of ministers calls on the management of a business in the community to request basic facts on the company’s total number of employees, the number of Negro employees, the department or job classification in which all are located, and the salary ranges for each category. The team then returns to the steering committee to evaluate the data and to make a recommendation concerning the number of new and upgraded jobs that should be requested. The decision on the number of jobs requested is usually based on population figures. For instance, if a city has a 30 percent Negro population, then it is logical to assume that Negroes should have at least 30 percent of the jobs in any particular company, and jobs in all categories rather than only in menial areas, as the case almost always happens to be.

    I addressed this in more detail in this post.

  10. 10
    Ben David says:

    Thanks for the replies – inluding that info about Operation Breadbasket, which I did not know about.

    irisclara – you describe what affirmative action was assumed to be when mainstream America agreed to it. It has long since transformed into a system in which minorities are preferred over equally qualified candidates. There is already a large body of research documenting the boomerang effect on minorities who often find themselves struggling in environments for which they are unprepared.

    I don’t know how many links I can post in a single message, but here’s a nice summary from the Atlantic magazine. There was also a famous article published by the New Yorker that raised the issue of prejudice against better qualified Asian students.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/10/the-painful-truth-about-affirmative-action/263122/

    Ampersand – as a small-government conservative, what immediately jumped out to me in the MLK quote was that this was done without the heavy hand of government intervention, at the community level. I also note that:
    – The employer still retained the right to decide who to hire.
    – The community did not seem to be requesting placement of unqualified people.
    – The goal was mainstreaming, unapologetic participation as a productive member of the larger (white) society. Which probably meant swallowing a lot of day-to-day grievances.

    This understanding of how business works – and of the positive connection between business and the community – is sorely lacking now that race has been co-opted by the political Left, with its inherent anti-business tilt. (It is also valid to ask how such a community-level initiative would scale up to modern multinational corporations.)

    As a bystander ex-pat, I also get the feeling that the current rhetoric about race in America emphasizes separatism and nurturing grievance. Would a young African American living in a college dorm that’s been newly re segregated at the request of Black activists share MLK’s goal of integration – or scorn it?

  11. 11
    Harlequin says:

    Ben David–in comment 7 you attributed a much more expansive argument to me than the one I actually made. JutGory’s example was a person saying “don’t say you are color-blind; if you can’t see that I am black, you can’t see me” and implying that conflicted with MLK’s statements. I was pointing out that you can simultaneously celebrate your background and your community (and the different backgrounds and communities of others) and that that’s a completely different thing than, for example, not hiring people because they’re black. I didn’t say, didn’t mean, and don’t believe that, because it’s possible to notice race without differentiating treatment based on race, therefore all liberal policies are race-neutral. (We could parse out the word “judge”, too, but I’ll just take it as differential treatment here and ignore the moral valence.)

    Anyway, Amp and irisclara have done a pretty good job with your initial questions, and I support what they said. As for your most recent comment:

    what immediately jumped out to me in the MLK quote was that this was done without the heavy hand of government intervention, at the community level. I also note that:
    – The employer still retained the right to decide who to hire.
    – The community did not seem to be requesting placement of unqualified people.
    – The goal was mainstreaming, unapologetic participation as a productive member of the larger (white) society. Which probably meant swallowing a lot of day-to-day grievances.

    Affirmative action is not a government policy, it is a policy used by individual businesses. The employers still retain the right to decide who to hire. The community was requesting placement at the same level as black people appear in the placement, which would be much more expansive than current affirmative action policies; even with current affirmative action-type policies, black people on average lag far behind in employment and in career success/promotion once employed. And, of course, black people still swallow lots of everyday grievances based on their race.

    The article you link on student success due to race-conscious admission policies has many items whose interpretations are contested by other researchers in the field, and misses some other important points. For example, when it comes to graduation rates, elite schools do better than state schools and community colleges (both in gross numbers and in racial gaps), presumably because they’re better able to financially support their students (most students drop out for financial reasons).

    I do not get that feeling about the current rhetoric about race in America, and I live here; but I suppose that kind of feeling is hard to quantify.

    (eta: and I’m happy to pop over to the open thread at any point if that seems like a better place to have this conversation)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *