Source: Diversity Inc./Chris Hoenig
A Pennsylvania newspaper has issued an apology after publishing an editorial cartoon that compared air travel to the slave trade.
In its Saturday edition, the Lancaster New Era ran a cartoon that depicts a couple standing before a diagram of the seating chart for a slave ship. “Must be where the airlines got their idea for passenger seating,” the old man tells his white-haired partner.
“To somehow link the inconveniences of air travel with slavery in general and the slave ships in particular was not only just plain wrong, it was deeply hurtful to our African-American community and all those who understand the horrors inflicted on the men and women forced into the slave trade,” John A. Kirkpatrick, President of Lancaster Newspapers, and Barb Roda, its Executive Editor, said in a statement. “As a Lancaster County pastor said of the editorial cartoon: ‘The African slave trade was our Holocaust, and to a majority of sane African-Americans it is painful for us to even entertain.’
“While the editorial cartoon was not drawn by someone on our staff, the decision to run it on our pages was made here. We are deeply sorry about printing this offensive cartoon.”
The cartoon was drawn by editorial cartoonist Robert Ariail. Someone posting under his name challenged commenters who questioned his drawing.
“Oh yes, when I fly on an airplane, I have absolutely been forced on board against my will, shackled by my hands and feet, stacked next to my fellow passengers with no breathing room, no water and food for a period of weeks, with the certain knowledge that if the captain considers himself or herself in danger, he or she can throw me overboard, still shackled to my fellow passengers,” a commenter named Sara posted on Ariail’s site. “Also, when I arrive at my final destination, I expect to be stripped, then sold to the highest bidder. Seriously, what is this nonsense?”
Ariail’s response? “Sara, get a sense of humor, then come back and look at the cartoons.” Ariail did eventually issue an apology of his own.
*** Damario Solomon-Simmons Commentary***
How anyone could think this cartoon was cool, funny, or reasonable deeply saddens me deeply and shows just how much work stills needs to be done around race relations, diversity and inclusion, the history of American, and just basic respect for fellow American!
Under no circumstances should the enslavement and wholesale slaughter of MILLIONS of Africans every be used comedy in this way?
What is funny about people, humans snatched and stolen: mother from daughter, father from son, husband from wife never to be seen or heard from again.
What is funny about people, humans being chained, bound, beaten and marched to holding cells within filthy, stinky, diseased ridden “slave castles?”
What is funny about people, humans packed into the bowls of slave ships like sardines so close to each other that they would have to urinate, defecate, and vomit right on top on each other?
What is funny about the fact that so many enslaved Africans died during the almost 2 month middle passage that for years sharks traversed the slave ships’ routes still looking to gorge themselves off the bodies of HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of Africans who died and were tossed overboard like trash.
What is funny about the fact for those Africans, some of my ancestors, aboard a slave ship who were “lucky” enough to make it to the Caribbean “breaking grounds” they were welcomed with more beatings, humiliations, rapes, mutilations , and death in order to transform them from Africans (stripping of their language, religion, culture, etc) to Slaves?