Group calls for
Ka Leo editors to
resign due to cartoons
An organization of black students at the University of Hawaii-Manoa is calling for an apology and the resignation of student newspaper editors and a cartoonist over a series of editorial cartoons that offended blacks, Jews, gays and lesbians on campus.
About 50 members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and gay, lesbian and transgendered organizations met with the student Board of Publications last night on the campus.
Bridgit Williams, a student and member of the black student organization Power 96, said the cartoons were "deeply offensive" and "culturally insensitive."
"Aloha is not the only spirit manifested on our campus," Williams said. "Contrary to the aloha spirit, it is the spirit of institutional racism."
Power 96 refers to the number of black students at Manoa.
An editorial cartoon last year by cartoonist Casey Ishitani used negative references to gays and Jews. Two cartoons last month, referring to a controversy over mandatory sensitivity training in the dorms, sparked protests again.
Ka Leo O Hawaii Editor Lori Ann Saeki said the cartoons were in response to a letter from a Christian reader who objected to mandatory sensitivity training on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. Saeki said the cartoon intended to point out that there are reasons to go to racial and sexual identity sensitivity training.
But she said the point in the cartoons was not clear, and they ended up offending people.
One of the cartoons shows a black man complaining about having to go to the training and then being confronted by people from the "National Alliance of Assailants of Colored People."
"Mocking of the NAACP is intolerable," Williams said, especially because the cartoon appeared in February, which is Black History Month.
Chris Jones, a Power 96 member, said the cartoons also used a stereotype to represent a black student.
In an editorial on March 3, Ka Leo editors said they regretted "any hurt our readers may have felt as a result of the cartoon strip's less than transparent message," but the editorial stopped short of apologizing.
Student Media Advisor Jay Hartwell told the audience that the university does not review what goes into the student paper before publication. He noted that the student editors make decisions, and part of the purpose of the paper is for students to learn from the experience.
"There's been a lot of education going on," he said.
Audience members pushed for a procedure, including diversity training, to make sure similar instances do not happen again.
The Board of Publications said it would meet with the group again next month with recommendations.