December 2, 2009

Why Did Black Newspaper Compare Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner to Aunt Jemima?

Black-owned newspapers have a tough enough time being profitable and relevant in the new information age. It doesn't help when Black-owned newspapers think it is humorous to portray African American female leaders as Aunt Jemima.

Call&Post is a weekly newspaper published in Cleveland OH. Call&Post editors thought it would be funny to portray Sen. Nina Turner as Aunt Jemima, a character most people of African descent consider to be offensive because of its use as a racist stereotype.

The paper criticized Turner, a Cleveland Democrat, for supporting last month's successful ballot issue to overhaul county government. Some Blacks fear the changes will reduce minority political power. I'm fine with calling out policies or politicians when you disagree with them. I think it is hateful and poor judgement in the extreme to personally denigrate a Black woman by comparing her to Aunt Jemima.

Call&Post associate publisher and editor Connie Harper says the caricature isn't hurtful. Cleveland resident Henry Ford disagrees.

What say u?


Keith said...

I worked as an editor of a black newspaper for 3 years, and have also worked for years in alternative3 as well as mainstream dailies. I respect the history of our black dailies - why and how they came to be, sounding the alarm when few others would - but I believe these days there are few if any black newspapers living up to spirit of the original mission. This cartoon is so far out of line it's not even worth discussing. Any right-minded person should see it has no place in any legitimate newspaper.

And in a black newspaper...? Jesus. Either that paper better get its mission straight or I'm betting its doors will be closed forever within the next decade. And maybe within the next 5 years.


Villager said...

Keith - I feel ya. I just went to see what I could find on the cartoonist, Walt Carr. Turns out that he has a negative attitude about working for Black newspapers ... so perhaps it is not surprising that he doesn't respect Black folks in his cartoons..

wisdomteachesme said...

If I may add to your sentence Villager, that No Newspaper, white or black owned should ever compare Any woman of color to aunt jemima....

Not just our elected leaders..

I agree with you and Keith, but I'm willing to bet that this one may close much sooner that 5 years..i give them one or two.

Henry Ford said...

I cannot fathom the reasoning behind the action of the Call & Post Newsletter, and tried to leave no word unspoken regarding this issue on my blog at

Black on Campus said...

Shame on Call&Post. If Black newspapers are going to use this kind of imagery, then what can we possibly expect from white-run papers.

Pablo More said...

Good evening, I am not at all shocked
nor suprised giving that we have a
Black cable network "BET" that has
for many years been a joke and produced nothing but foolishness
that does a disservice to the Black community. The fact that a Black newspaper is now following suit is nothing shocking. You also have allot
of radio that is just as bad.

Villager said...

WisdomTeachesMe - You're right ... some caricatures and comparisons should never be made. Never compare a Black woman to Aunt Jemima. Never compare a politician to Hitler. Those are two examples.

Henry - Your commentary was powerful. I updated this blog post to contain a link to your commentary.

Black on Campus - I wonder if these newspapers ever experience consequences when they go over the line? Call&Post is probably getting more attention today than they've had in years.

Pablo - Thanx for visiting my other blog! I appreciate you taking time to share your comment. I hope you find reason to visit again in the future!

Jill said...

Thank you so very much for covering this. I wrote on All About Race, where Carmen Dixon wrote about this situation, that I'm disappointed that there hasn't been more in terms of talk about how having allies could help this situation, but I attribute that to the lack of progress at some levels in Cleveland in terms of that kind of work, perhaps especially in our media - but I'm not sure.

In any case, thank you very very much and it's been great seeing people rally on Facebook. I actually would most like to hear from Ms. Turner, who I don't know but know many people, black and white, in this community, who have great respect for her - agree or disagree with her position on the local issue of county reform.

Villager said...

Jill - I agree that it would be good to hear from Sen. Turner. Frankly, I'm also interested to know what the cartoonist, Walt Carr, was thinking...