UF paper draws protest

More than 50 angry students protested Friday in front of the Independent Florida Alligator newspaper offices, in response to a controversial cartoon.

Several black student groups at the University of Florida were upset about an editorial cartoon the student newspaper ran on Tuesday. The cartoon illustrated Rapper Kanye West holding a card labeled “The Race Card,” while standing next to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The text bubble over Rice’s head read: “Nigga please.”

Naturally, there has been major controversy. Some administrators joined the students in the effort and even UF President Bernie Machen asked the Florida Alligator staff to print an apology, but according to an opinions article posted Sept. 19, the Florida Alligator staff does not feel like they have done anything wrong. In fact, they feel like they have shed light on an issue that needs intensive care.

Mike Girmignani, editor of the Florida Alligator said one of the reasons the newspaper separated from the university was to become “Independent” and to be able to exercise the true freedom of speech however the staff saw fit.

Andy Marlette, student illustrator for the paper, said he did not intend for the cartoon to be seen as a “racist” act.

However, to many it was not just a racist act, but also an act of ignorance and immaturity. Sometimes when people are in a position to force their opinions on others, they may act without thinking about how that opinion may impact others. It brings me to an old saying: “To whom much is given, much is required.” With a weapon as powerful as a pen, a person has to act responsibly.

Marlette said the term “nigga” is a popular term used today and was taken from popular rap lyrics and comedians, but rappers do not represent the entire black community.

Yes, there are some black people who use the terms nigga and negro in acknowledging their peers, but many blacks use the terms in an effort to desensitize the hurt and humiliation they carry from 400 years of captivity and servitude.

Marlette said he put “Nigga please” in the cartoon because he could picture a black woman saying that to a black man, which is just not a good enough reason to start up controversy. But Marlette had to have support in order to pull it off. According to an article written in representation of the staff, they stand behind him 100 percent on the issue.

My opinion is that the cartoon editorial should not have been published. In an argument, a person may hear something they do not like, but blocks it out. Whatever message Marlette and the Alligator were trying to send was lost in translation, because of its impact. It is a racist term and has no place in intelligent conversation.

Beverly Mount is a senior public relations student from Tallahassee. She can be reached at Beverly1.mount@famu.edu