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United Voices: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

March 2, 2009

Sherriel Weithers


By H. Lewis Smith

H. Lewis Smith

February 24, 2009, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the New York Post, personally apologized for a recent cartoon by Sean Delonas, nicknamed by some "the Picasso of prejudice." The cartoon, which depicted a chimpanzee being shot by the police after mauling a woman, captioned "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."

Mr. Murdoch commented: "Today, I want to personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted," Murdoch said in a statement. "...I can assure you, without a doubt, that the only intent of that cartoon was to mock a badly written piece of legislation. It was not meant to be racist, but unfortunately, it was interpreted by many as such. We all hold the readers of the New York Post in high regard, and I promise you that we will seek to be more attuned to the sensitivities of our community."

"It was not meant to be racist, but unfortunately, it was such." Is it possible for a news media to be any more irresponsible and callous? Some may argue that African Americans are inflating the seriousness of this situation, but clearly, that chimpanzee cartoon is offensive to the black community and the office of the President of the United States. Given the social history of America and the typical negative connotations regarding African Americans, greatly-experienced, mainstream media giants such as the New York Post possess the consciousness to realize such connotations, predict their effects, and avoid publishing any satire that could be perceived as offensive--unless that is the message they actually meant to convey. As well, in lieu of the fact that an African American now chairs the high office--which may not be too thrilling to some members of other races, the need for "racial correctness" is at an all-time high, and, frankly, those African Americans who feel that this situation is an attack on their race are not wrong for believing such.

One can only wonder that if the oval office was not occupied by a black man, would that cartoon have ever been conceived and published and taken in a negative manner. The answer to the combination of these factors: maybe, but quite possibly not. Since the oval office is chaired by an African American, the cartoon does carry significant call for concern. This is the logic that should have guided the cartoon editor's and publisher's thoughts when considering this piece for publication. And again, because of their experience in the publishing industry, one cannot digest the notion that the news giant was unable to foresee the possibility of the infuriating effects the cartoon would have on African Americans. It is difficult to believe that the New York Post or any other news media would publish a cartoon satire involving any oven jokes, regardless of the non-racial intent, without first considering the consequences of angering the Jewish community.

Respect is to consider someone's feelings, needs, thoughts, ideas, wishes and preferences. When there is a feeling of respect or the lack thereof, the behavior will naturally follow. Needless to say, the NY Post did not think of respect for the black community when publishing the piece. They said what they intended and conveyed their ideals to the public. All of the apologies in the world cannot burrow up the seeds of blatant disrespect that have been sewn by the NY Post's incomprehensible and utterly, unforgivably insensitive decision to publish.

Regardless to the manner in which African Americans conduct themselves, the New York Post's actions are not in the least bit acceptable or justifiable. However, if their true intention was disrespect, which it unequivocally seems to be, one must beg the question of why they feel so confident in publicly expressing their insolence for African Americans. Could it be that they feel African Americans show no respect for self, so why respect people who fail to respect themselves? Respect from others is gained by first respecting self at all times. If one shows no respect for self, how can one rationally demand respect from others? The most disrespectful word in the English language is the n-word and yet African Americans refer to one another as such; when one considers the idiom's sinister history, and still continues to refer to self and others as such, the ability to demand respect from others becomes a near-impossible feat.

Obviously, there is absolutely nothing respectable about the n-word, but yet Black youths, comedians, rappers, ministers, community leaders, politicians all publicly use the n-word and think nothing of it. We can deceive ourselves all we want, but the rest of the world recognizes that word for its true meaning and take African Americans at their declaration that this is how they want to be looked upon. No one is going to think any more of an individual than that person thinks of him/herself. Only individual self respect compels respect from others.

H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc., a writer for the New England Informer Online and author of Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word.

Sherriel Weithers
(310) 712-2662

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