Post-racial, my ass.

via Racialicious, the New York Post ran this cartoon today:

Talk about the oldest racist image in the book. Al Sharpton responded:

The cartoon in today’s New York Post is troubling at best, given the racist attacks throughout history that have made African-Americans synonymous with monkeys. One has to question whether the cartoonist is making a less than casual inference to this form of racism when, in the cartoon, the police say after shooting a chimpanzee, “now they will have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill.”
Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama (the first African American president) and has become synonymous with him it is not a reach to wonder whether the Post cartoonist was inferring that a monkey wrote it?

The newspaper’s editor defended it as “a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington’s efforts to revive the economy.” But the cartoonist, Sean Delonas, has drawn plenty of offensive cartoons in the past:

In 2006, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation denounced a cartoon of his that showed a man carrying a sheep wearing a bridal veil to a “New Jersey Marriage Licenses” window, a reference to the State Supreme Court’s ruling that year requiring the state to grant same-sex couples the same legal rights and benefits as heterosexual couples through civil unions.

A protest is planned outside the Post‘s offices (1211 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan) at noon on Thursday. You can write a letter to the editor here.

Join the Conversation

  • laurel gardner

    Yeah. There are two very different interpretations of this comic with very different meanings that people here are commonly seeing. Like I said, it’s like the candlestick/face profiles optical illusion, except way more emotionally charged.

  • laurel gardner

    I find that right-wingers generally prefer to stay away from such blatant racism. Blatant racism isn’t so good for keeping racism alive in this day and age, since it’s too easily called out.
    And for many readers, the “stimulus package is so badly written it must have been done by a monkey,” makes perfect sense and is the immediate, intuitive interpretation of this comic. I’m one of them. It’s probably dependent on personal experience (I make similar jokes about badly written stuff all the time), but just because you didn’t come to that conclusion reading it doesn’t mean those of us who did are somehow vastly more ignorant of racist realities or trying to deny their general existence.

  • laurel gardner

    You interpretation of the cartoon is the only possible reasonable one? That’s incredibly insulting to the rest of us. Are you implying that we’re stupid, crazy, or, as you say, interested in “making excuses” for racism?

  • laurel gardner

    I can absoultely see why reasonable, intelligent people would interpret this cartoon as racist. But when I first read it, I didn’t. I saw another interpretation, one that I still think is more likely to be the author’s intent. That’s all. Doesn’t make me a racist apologist.

  • insomniac

    Because it is “covert” racism as someone else suggested? The cartoonist can hide behind his metaphors and say that he was misunderstood in this way.
    I connected the cartoon to racism at once. However, I can understand why some fo the readers didn’t get the connection. Some time ago, I read an article which talked about how King Kong was racist. Until I read it in that article, I never made the connection. However, this cartoon is a lot more direct in its insinuation.
    And a simple question to those using the Obama didn’t write the stimulus bill arguement, if the cartoonist is referring to the writers and not to Obama, why does he have a lone chimp? Why not a group of them?
    Also, do those who did not see racism in this see the other cartoons this guy drew? Do you still think his cartoon wasn’t racist after seeing those?

  • idiolect

    Can someone explain to me why people seem to think it referencing an actual event somehow rescues the cartoonist from being held responsible for the imagery? I mean, I think it might make it even worse, since the viewer might know of that event and therefore know that this isn’t just a monkey, but a crazy terrifying monkey that went nuts and attacked some poor lady and who had to be shot down because there was no other option…

  • idiolect

    I think Ann’s point was basically that racism is racism is racism, and who really cares about what the cartoonist might’ve “intended” here, since the image itself is so appallingly racist. We shouldn’t make halfhearted apologies for this guy by calling it merely “boneheaded,” we should call a spade a spade and say This Cartoon Is Racist.

  • error_29

    FWIW I grew up in an incredibly sheltered, upper middle class, predominantly white, hyper-WASPy area of New England with pracically NO exposure to race issues and even I immediately caught the black man as monkey thing. Just because a couple of us may have been fortunate enough to have missed that particular chunk of racism does not mean it isnt there. I mean whats next? Sambo and minstrel jokes about the dance at the inaguration? Fake menus from the white house featuring watermelon and fried chicken?
    As far as the chimp/monkey distinction goes…you have got to be kidding me, right? Regardless of the current news story which the cartoonist is referencing the point is that the picture in the cartoon is of *generic primate X*.

  • idiolect

    ??? I… I mean, I want to say something constructive in response, but honestly, I just think your comment doesn’t make any sense at all, so uh, here is a placeholder sentence for the constructive disagreement I would have if I could figure out which bizarro-world you’re living in where racists don’t find violence against people of color “funny”…?

  • idiolect

    Again, who cares if it’s intentional, really? It might be psychologically interesting, but whether this cartoon is racist on purpose or by accident doesn’t change the fact that it’s racist.
    Again: whether this cartoon is racist on purpose or by accident doesn’t change the fact that it’s racist.
    I’m sure someone in this thread somewhere has said this already, but I think the very fact that we’re debating so energetically about what the cartoonist might’ve meant (as opposed to how he did come off) speaks to his dramatically privileged position here, which only makes the effect of the imagery all the more insulting, imho.


    I work as a photo editor for nonfiction books and have done so for many years. In my experience as a professional that evaluates imagery for publication, even on shorter deadlines like at a daily newspaper, I can’t believe how this cartoon didn’t raise any question with any of the several editors it likely passed thru for approval.
    Whether or not the cartoonist’s intention was blatant racism, his and the newspaper’s insensitivity to the racist reference is absolutely irresponsible, at least.
    In this economy, newspapers are tanking daily (no pun intended). Why can’t NY Post go away too? Oh yeah, Rupert Murdoch makes a lot of $ shilling this exact sort of irresponsible crap.

  • insomniac

    Oh, and I have another doubt. As I said before, I understand how some people are sheltered or in such circumstances that they aren’t aware of the chimp-black person-racism thing. But isn’t the guy who drew this cartoon a Political Cartoonist?! Shouldn’t he be a bit more aware of the socio-political history of his country?! Especially in the aftermath of a historic election?!
    I just don’t understand how someone who has in past instances has shown his prejudice towards women, gay people, transgendered people, disabled people and people who don’t fit the conventional norms of beauty/perfection can be given the benefit of the doubt on publishing a cartoon that has the slightest possibility of being racist.

  • idiolect

    I mean, even aside from this guy being a political cartoonist, presumably he is an adult who occasionally leaves his house on occasion in New York City. Honestly, you’d have to be trying really hard to stay firmly beneath your rock in order not to be aware of basic media analysis stuff here, even if you don’t work in media yourself.

  • Danyell

    So, you’re saying that art plays no part in public discourse nor is it representative of public opinion or society at all, be it general or specific?
    So why only dismiss cartoons? Let’s also dismiss movies, TV, music, poetry, literature, journalism, advertising, drawing, painting, sculpture, photography & anything else I may have forgotten while we’re at it.

  • Danyell

    I guess I can kind of (maybe, sorta) see how this cartoon MIGHT not have been intended to be racist. There has been a crazy giant chimp in the papers lately. There is the idea of stupid things being written “by monkeys” (& people never seem to be able to separate monkeys & chimps for some reason). BUT that would mean that neither the artist who penned this NOR the editor who let it go to press both had ANY IDEA that there was anyway this could be presented in a racial context.
    That’s like suggesting that only after the backlash did they say: “Oh wait, our president is Black?” “Oh wait, there’s a history of black people being compared to monkeys/chimps/apes, etc?” “Oh, do Black people not much CARE for being compared to primates?”
    It COULD be POSSIBLE that they were 100% unaware of this comparison or that they didn’t see how connected the two would be when you place them RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER. But even if you assume any of that is true, what you’re left with are two of the most ignorant, most blinded by privilege, most isolated people I’ve ever heard of within the mass-produced media. And that actually makes me even more sad. Because how did they get those jobs when the rest of us are on unemployment?
    Honestly, I’ve said things before that I realized a heartbeat later “Oh shit, I hope that didn’t sound racist, because I totally didn’t mean it that way!” or had someone point out that what I said was offensive. We all make oversights or speak without thinking. But do you know how much work goes into a single cartoon?? How many original ideas did the artist reject? How much time sketching, revamping & rethinking happened before the first stroke of finalizing ink touched paper? Was there never a moment’s doubt? And then sending it off to the paper…how many hands did it pass through? And no one saw a problem? No one thought “You know, this may get some backlash…”
    And I’m not saying that having something that’s shocking, offensive, “edge-y” or what have you means you SHOULDN’T print it. That’s part of what art does. Some things SHOULD get under our skin, make us angry, make us write angry letters. It’s actually good to know that times being what they are, people are still shock-able. All of that can be a great thing, a gift even. (Although, even if that was the intention, this cartoon fails 100% at being clever or insightful) But then don’t be surprised if some of the backlash is negative. Don’t act like you had no idea. Because either you’re bigoted & completely intended the multiple meanings or you had NO idea & you’re a fucking idiot. I don’t know which people would rather be…
    That being said, I was immediately horrified at this cartoon. Not only does it invoke so much racist history (specifically the history of cartoons, caricatures & vaudevillian-type impersonation) but it is so unnecessarily violent. Seriously…wtf?

  • Danyell

    I completely agree. That irritates me as well. I can’t take someone seriously when they so misuse the language (unless, of course, it’s not their first language).

  • Danyell

    Whoops. I forgot to close my italics in that first part. Sorry!

  • Femgineer

    Thank you for this. I think this is more constructive than most of the other discussion that is going on in this thread.

  • disbelief

    I’ve never understood the “oversensitive” angle. Why wouldn’t anyone who has been marginalized or oppressed care about actions taken toward their group? (and ideally, actions taken toward ANY marginalized/oppressed group.) Why should that group of people feel silenced? Ultimately, who gets to be the arbiter of what is or is not important to any one group?
    I’m not a fan of “objectivity” either — maybe I’m crazy, but I believe there are few, if any, people who are just floating through life, evaluating situations without their upbringings, beliefs, or what they’ve been exposed to coming into play (whether this is done consciously or subconsciously).
    Not only do I care about/take issue with/take action on issues I feel directly affect me, I am also working on my awareness of privileges I often take for granted. I expect that that means I’ll be evaluating all sorts of things more, and calling b.s. on a lot of things as well. If that makes me sensitive, well dammit, I take the label and wear it proudly — because I’d rather be overly sensitive than be the opposite.

  • disbelief

    This, this, a hundred times this.


    That cartoon is not only old school Ku Klux Klan racism of the worst sort, it’s also advocating the assassination of the President of the United States.
    That’s not only wrong – it’s also a federal crime!
    Why isn’t the cartoonist in jail right now?


    You’re hairsplitting, and you know it.
    A chimp is a type of ape – and Blacks have been compared to all sorts of apes over the years; monkeys, chimps, gorillas, orangutans – you name it, we’ve been called it.
    And you know this.
    So why can’t you have the common human decency to admit that this is a racist cartoon that advocates the murder of the 44th President of the United States?
    Or do you think that Barack Obama is an ape too?


    Yes, it is a “Boneheaded White Guy Thing” – to be specific, it’s White supremacism, and rage that a Black man is now the most powerful man on Earth, reflected in this disgusting, ku klux klannish, terroristic cartoon.

  • RevolutionarilySpeaking

    I think this is one of the instances in which people should truly just turn a blind eye.
    Feministing is one of 9203483098 (exaggeration) feminist blogs out there, so if you come to their page one day, and the contents are what you feel to be subpar, click one of the umpteen links they provide on the side of the page. If Feministing claimed to be the be-all,end-all of Feminist content, why would they feel the need to link to other blogs at all?
    It’s simple – you read this blog for free. You don’t like an article you see? You skip it. That was ONE particular day, and besides, is it wrong for the editors to try to relate to their readers? And on a final note, they actually were posting that information in response to feminist discourse on another site.


    Perhaps because your not from America, you don’t understand American racial culture.
    We’ve been getting called “monkeys” and “apes” since we got off the damned slaveships!
    So yes, it is racist to call a Black man a chimp!
    And you need to learn that about America before you defend racist cartoonists like the creep that drew this one.
    Also, just so you know, in our country, it’s A FEDERAL CRIME to call for the assassination of the President.
    So that jerk, and the newspaper he works for, committed a federal crime by the very act of putting that cartoon in their paper.
    You need to learn about the true history of you adopted country and it’s longstanding tradition of anti Black racism.

  • alixana

    I gotta ask, what’s in it for the people who are arguing so passionately that this is not racist? Concern for the cartoonist’s feelings? Something else? I’m just curious why a non-POC would be invested in making sure this cartoon is given the benefit of the doubt.
    It’s sort of reminding me of the recent “I was objectified by a nice guy” post over on Community – the woman who posted it knew that something creepy was going on, but there were some guys in there all worried that she was misinterpreting things and that it all sounded very benign and thought she should at least give him the benefit of the doubt that maybe he was just socially awkward or nervous. And a lot of us said, who the hell cares? He made her uncomfortable, this didn’t happen in a vaccuum, men don’t have to put up with constant unwanted and inappropriate attention like women do, etc. etc.
    So if this cartoonist is making POC’s red flags go up, isn’t the similar answer to the cartoonist’s intent, “Who cares what the input is? The output is racist, and POC know it when they see it ’cause they deal with it all the time and we don’t know what that’s like” ?

  • Ros

    I mean… WOW.
    My jaw actually dropped. I have nothing to add.
    … wait. Good god, some people think this is acceptable and defensible? WTF??

  • gracie-bird


  • sly

    as an african-american i think its important to distinguish between unintentional racisim & intentional racisim. The former is a teachable moment, the latter is a fight.
    …and as as an activist in civil rights struggles let me be a bit more clear for those who think that to miss the cartoon’s connection to Obama is to be ‘blinded by privilege’. After seeing the cartoon the very 1st thing that popped into my mind was the crazy rampaged chimp thing. It didn’t occur to me to tie it to Obama until I read about the outcry…And I dare anyone to tell me that I’m blinded by my black, working class privilege…
    geez, the friggin audacity of some posters…how friggin condecending…

  • sly

    as an african-american i think its important to distinguish between unintentional racisim & intentional racisim. The former is a teachable moment, the latter is a fight.
    …and as as an activist in civil rights struggles let me be a bit more clear for those who think that to miss the cartoon’s connection to Obama is to be ‘blinded by privilege’. After seeing the cartoon the very 1st thing that popped into my mind was the crazy rampaged chimp thing. It didn’t occur to me to tie it to Obama until I read about the outcry…And I dare anyone to tell me that I’m blinded by my black, working class privilege…
    geez, the friggin audacity of some posters…how friggin condecending…

  • Danyell

    Just to clarify by “this” do you mean “I agree”? Is that like an “amen”? :)

  • rileystclair

    after the behavior of the right wing and the GOP as a whole during the most recent presidential election, i’d say you’re way off on them not even caring to hide blatant racism when it means everyone might vote for TEH SCARY BLACK MENZ!1
    but i agree that racism, even when it’s obvious, is frequently defended by justifications of “satire” or whatever, just as this cartoon has been with the crazed chimp story being proffered as an explanation for the cartoon.

  • Alralei

    Some updates:
    How to give the Post a piece of your mind:
    (via ColorOfChange)
    And, a lesson for racist cartoonists by a fellow cartoonist:
    (Although I think it missed the mark a little, it still gave me a chuckle. Thought I’d share.)

  • poetic_revolutionary

    How does any respectable newspaper allow a comic like this? Oh wait.. it is owned by Rupurt Murdoch..
    Not only is it racist because of the monkey, but it’s implying that our President should be assassinated? And because of bill that is supposed to help the country?! Totally nonsensical.
    I was definitely NOT a fan of Bush.. ever.. but I would never imagine laughing at a cartoon implying that our prez, whoever it may be, should be assassinated.. and for those who don’t assume this to be a racist joke as I do (comparing Obama to a chimp), it still seems totally wrong to portray the murder of somebody (especially by cops?) who helped write this bill..

  • LalaReina

    I’m a NYer there is nothing the Post does that surprises me, it has a running hostility with minority communities

  • error_29
  • AnUnfunnyFeminist

    I’m saying that nothing is objectively racist or sexist or whatever because that’s the whole point of an oppressive system. There’s no even ground, so there’s no objectivity. There’s no way for a White person to tell a person of color what is or isn’t racist, because racism doesn’t hurt them. If we were to sit at a round table and decide what is racist and what isn’t, it’s most likely that the things that even White people find racist would be considered racist. The things that most people of color find racist might not seem racist to White people. I think most White people would agree that the KKK is racist, but maybe a lot of them don’t find this cartoon to be racist. Does that mean the cartoon isn’t racist? No, because it only matters that people of color find it racist, because it’s only the people of color who are going to be judged poorly based on the cartoon’s message. To come to a consensus on what’s racist requires the oppressor’s opinion on what’s racist, and I don’t really want them telling me how to feel.

  • Kathleen6674

    Christ. They should have stopped before the shit in the last three paragraphs.
    The proper response to being told you hurt someone is remorse, not defensiveness and anger.

  • smartbunny

    I personally don’t think it’s “funny” to make light of the horrible attack that poor woman endured at the hands of a wild animal. She’s permanently disfigured and barely alive. Why make a cartoon about that? If anything there should be a statement about how wrong it is to keep a 200 lb chimp in your house. (I know the owner was not the one mauled)

  • idiolect

    Sometimes I wonder if there’s a statistical correlation between being this type of conservative and having high blood pressure and heart problems…

  • idiolect

    I don’t think it’s really that people are getting “flamed to death” for simply chiming in that they don’t see it. It’s that people are coming in ready to fight for the cartoon from the outset, unwilling to ask questions and dismissive of those who do find it offensive, and on the other hand willing to go on at length about what their interpretation is and what the cartoonist might’ve meant, and about how “hypersensitive” those who are offended are. It comes off as a big ol’ Fuck You, a Sit-Down-And-Shut-Up to the many many people who obviously feel very strongly about this.

  • idiolect

    Man, you really really want this not to be racist, don’t you? Someone else asked this elsewhere, but I’m really curious too — what’s at stake? Why is it so important to you not to think of this cartoon as racist?

  • jill b
  • alixana

    Which part is mindboggling, the ridiculousness of playing I’m More Oppressed Than You?

  • Danyell

    That’s funny. When Palin was in the running I remember pages and pages of this site dedicated to calling out the sexism against her. I guess you weren’t here for those. Actually, since this is a feminist site, calling out sexist stuff happens 99% of the time. Commercials, print ads, TV shows…did you miss all of those? Are you really that pissed off that a single sexist comic wasn’t commented on? Or just pissed off that we’re discussing racism at all? Or is it that it’s racism that’s pointed towards a male? Does your feminism not have room for anti-racism?
    I assume you must have e-mailed this & other sexist comics to the bloggers here, or else you’d have no reason to be so mad, since they can’t discover everything on their own. It’s great that other blogs can catch the other sexism that falls through the cracks. Because there really is too much for all of us to see all of it all the time. But to get mad that we’re discussing something that made headlines is absurd. Is this just too topical? Or to be mad that one blog mentioned something and another didn’t. This site isn’t the be all end all of feminism. You should be glad that different blogs have different topics and that you have so many sources.

  • dangerfield

    I agree with you, but I think you misunderstood my point.
    I’m all for actively combating racism. I think issues of social justice like racism and feminism can’t be separated. I–by no means–am encouraging keeping people out of the movement for any reasons of the sort.
    rather, the credibility issue is about the racism in this particular situation. I happen to believe this was a stupid, unfunny cartoon made in good faith by a bad cartoonist, that hurt people because of its own lack of awareness. Most in this community disagree with me.
    Because of this belief, I think the proper response to this cartoon is not outrage and accusations of racism, but the start of a measured dialogue about the way we discuss race, deliberately or inadvertently, in our culture. I think reacting with outrage when I don’t feel it is warranted hurts our credibility in other cases, but most have clearly disagreed with me because they believe, in the case of this cartoon, it is warranted. That’s the substantive issue.

  • jill b

    this is an excellent op to comment on how the media ignored sexist cartoons by the bucketful but how they pump up the volume for sexist ones.
    send them sexist cartoons? u kidding? have to be living in a cave to not note all the sexist cartoons this past year.
    re Palin, i recall that comments on this site wanted to take her vagina away, and Neiman Marxist etc. so no use to bring that up for this reader. anyway, just hope to remind that sexist is not treated with the same gravatis by media as racism and it is worth a comparison to show the difference.

  • gingerakimbo

    New research suggests that the association between black people and nonhuman primates goes beyond being insulting – it also impinges upon justice in other ways:
    “‘The association between black and ape left our white respondents more open to the possibility that police violence might in fact be justified,’ Goff said.”
    “In the sixth and final study of his series, Goff’s results also help to explain why the residents of death row are so disproportionately black. Goff analyzed newspaper reports of trials in which both black and non-black defendants were eligible for the death penalty. He found that descriptions of the trials for black defendants included far more primate-related language, such as ‘ape,’ ‘beast,’ ‘brute,’ or ‘jungle.'”
    Hypersensitivity/over reaction/too PC my ass.

  • Attorney at LOL

    I couldn’t even see any interpretation BUT the racial one when I first looked at this. I couldn’t believe they drew a cartoon about cops gunning down a racial allegory for our President! They could’ve replaced “someone else” with “another nigger” and it would have read the same to me.
    I guess I get the hypothetical non-racial interpretation now (the stimulus bill is stupid and could’ve been written by a dumb zoo animal), but that’s also pretty damn insulting, considering that Obama was a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago and is probably one of the smartest people to ever grace that office, if not the smartest. You can call him an ideologue or a tree-hugger or whatever; even the “Muslim” and “foreigner” implications have at least the tiniest connection to reality; but stupid? Not a chance.
    Unless, of course, you think everyone tainted by a drop of African blood is stupid. But that just brings us right back to where we started, don’t it?

  • Lady W