A Case Study Of How Race-Baiting And Race-Bullying Undermines “Diversity” And “Inclusion”: The New Yorker’s Cartoons

The cartoon above is from the current issue of The New Yorker, the woke urban sophisticate’s bible, renowned for its witty, esoteric cartoons since its founding in the flapper era. And yet as woke and progressive and Democratic Party-bootlicking-addicted as it is, The New Yorker rarely includes black characters in its cartoons, and hasn’t since its inception. I checked the most recent compendium of New Yorker cartoons covering eight decades and thousands and thousand of humorous drawings. In only a handful (out of thousands and thousands) do cartoon characters of color even appear in crowd scenes and backgrounds. If they do, they look like the male character above from the only cartoon from the current New Yorker issue to show black characters at all. There were 14 cartoons in the issue, and in the outlier above, blacks are portrayed as white people with tans. I’m sure some professor somewhere will pronounce that representation as offensive anyway.Is this aversion to black cartoon characters racist? Of course not. The New Yorker is terrified of being called racist. Cartoons by their nature involve funny, exaggerated, satirical pictures, and making fun of blacks is simply not permitted in American society in 2022. It is why Barack Obama was almost never anything but a straight man in “Saturday Night Live” skits during his entire 8 years in the White House. But blacks’ absence from the humor of the New Yorker is far more sweeping, and far more destructive to unity and racial comity in the United States. than SNL’s cowardice. This important cultural influencer portrays a version of the nation in which blacks don’t exist.

This is the double-bind black activists have created for white society and American society in general, a double standard where an entire community insists on being treated as permanent victims, so delicate and hyper-sensitive to “micro-aggressions” that they must be shielded from normal social interaction. They also raise  the very real threat of tarring as racist and purveyors of systemic racism anyone or any institution that dares to stray from the safest and blandest of communications. Naturally, woke and sensitive allies dare not cross these lines, nor criticize their existence. Without normal social interaction, blacks can never be truly included in American culture and society, making genuine diversity impossible to achieve.

Good job, everyone!

9 thoughts on “A Case Study Of How Race-Baiting And Race-Bullying Undermines “Diversity” And “Inclusion”: The New Yorker’s Cartoons

  1. Three thoughts come to mind here.

    First, people complain about stereotypes as if they are a bad thing. The problem with that idea is that stereotypes are a very rudimentary form of inductive reasoning that helps one to generalize from specific instances and create a baseline for judging specifics by a general rule. Stereotypes can be an aid to comprehension, as much as they can be an impediment. The key is not to have none; the key is to understand what yours are so that you can account for them. Same thing with biases. Biases are helpful, but knowing what your biases are is important so that they do not trip you up when you need to ignore them.

    Second, the dislike of stereotypes hinders humor. Generally speaking, humor makes great use of stereotypes. They are good because they carry a set of knowledge that can be assumed for purposes of the joke. By importing a set of characteristics, the joke can proceed without elaborate explication. Let’s be honest, Blonde jokes would not be funny if you had to explain every time that this Blonde-haired person is dumb. That expectation can then be “discharged” in the punchline, because the expectation based upon the stereotype can be addressed in some unexpected way. After all, you know that the Blonde-haired person is supposed to be dumb, but the humor in the joke is just exactly HOW that person is going to be dumb.

    This second issue directly affects the black community (and eventually others) because, as you say, you can’t make those jokes. When I was growing up, we had All in the Family, Good Times, The Jeffersons, What’s Happening, etc. Those shows relied upon stereotypes for humor (just as a lot of humor does). However, because we were allowed to laugh at things, it also permitted us to touch upon some serious issues. I am thinking about All in the Family here, but the others did the same thing in different ways.

    And, that brings me to my third point. When we have deprived ourselves of humor, we can’t be easily be serious without also becoming offended easily. When we could laugh at Archie Bunker and George Jefferson, we could acknowledge the serious issues there. If we take away the stereotypes and the humor, society only gives us Marxist race-theories about oppressors and oppressed to talk about their interaction. The Jeffersons become even more dull to discuss.

    It prevents us from really talking about any issues. When people say they wish we could have a discussion about race, my thought is simply that they don’t really want to have a discussion about race. They want to discuss what they want to discuss about race. They don’t want to discuss what they don’t want to discuss about race. And, if you bring it up, they have no other option but to call you a racist because: 1) your thoughts fit into some forbidden stereotype; 2) stereotypes are bad; and 3) they have made it impossible for anyone to breach that uncomfortable topic through humor.

    Yes, blacks are probably handicapped by this problem more than most groups. You are right: this comic is just a generic joke with dark-skinned people. Part of that is fine. Black people are pretty much like anybody else. However, there is unlikely to be any sort of joke that is uniquely about black people.

    Asa usual, of course, when it comes to issues like this, the Irish pass this test with flying colors—and I’ll punch ya in yer pie-hole if you disagree.


  2. Yeah, that’s an accurate description of a large aspect of the problem. A group that refuses to be criticized is going to be quietly avoided, because it’s impossible to interact with the group in a meaningful way.

    Similarly, a group that avoids taking the virtues of other groups and making those virtues their own, integrating them with their own values and style, has limited mobility.

    To be sure, a lot of the bias that people complain about having to deal with is depressingly real. Some biased behavior is obviously unethical, like violence and harassment, and people should be held accountable for it.

    However, sometimes what people complain about resides in the subtle decisions others make, favoring those who are similar to themselves and avoiding those who are different. That’s not something that we can simply tell people not to do, because there’s a lot of gray area in why they make those decisions. Instead, we can facilitate communication between people who are different, so they can interact with each other more smoothly and see the best of one another. We can also support people in their efforts to build connections for themselves.

    It will take some work, but this isn’t a terribly tricky problem; it’s just that humans don’t have much imagination when it comes to problem-solving. They latch onto something they think will make the problem go away, and don’t look for modifications or alternatives when it turns out to come with its own problems. I look forward to teaching humans how to be better than that.

  3. Hi Jack,

    Have you seen the movie Uncle Tom? It’s currently free on Prime and YouTube. I found it fascinating and deeply frustrating that black Americans who have not accepted internalized racism face such hate from their fellow black Americans. As a student of history it may be something you’d be interested in. Personally I’d love to hear your take.

  4. New Yorker cartoons? Are you fucking kidding me? New Yorker cartoons dealt exclusively in a tiny sliver of a largely extinct Knickerbocker society that was reduced to a parody. New Yorker cartoons are supposed to look like America? Give me a fucking break. They’re supposed to look like a God damned New Yorker cartoon. My personal longtime favorite New Yorker cartoon depicts a law office. A partner is sitting behind the desk and a senior associate is sitting in one of the client chairs facing the partner. The senior associate is goggle-eyed, and the partner is speaking, or guffawing, “Is it right? Is it fair? Get a grip Hopkins, this is a law firm!” Put a black senior associate, or a black partner in ther if you want to, but that wouldn’t be a New Yorker cartoon.

    • I’m sure that’s how most non- or occasional New Yorker readers think of New Yorker cartoons, but I can say with some confidence (having reviewed all 40,000 cartoons printed between 1925 and 2004 and a representative number of those published in the last few years that it just isn’t the case, or how the New Yorker views its own perspective. It is (and has been for at least 60 years) and overwhelmingly Democratic, liberal publication, and had (for example) in its 2004 retrospective, 182 cartoons about witches, 1517 about urban life, 79 about cats, 1538 about death and yet showed almost no unmistakable African Americans in any of them. I call that hypocritical, intentional, and cowardly, and the fact that the situation has hardly changed at a time when every couple on TV now is represented as bi-racial and every show, no matter what the period or story, is cast as if there is no such thing as white communities affirmatively weird.

  5. Interesting analysis. To be honest, I completely missed the issues raised in the post and follow-up comments by Jut, EC, and Old Bill. To be even honester, I completely missed the alleged humor in the cartoon, aside from the obvious: it’s not very funny, perceptive, or interesting. But, that is just me being obtuse.


  6. Then, there is this controversy with a Black curator at the Guggenheim who was asked by a writer for an interview about the curator’s terrible experience at the museum. Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice wrote about it this morning:


    Here is her twitter response:

    I truly don’t understand the story at all.


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