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Grant Woolard, a cartoonist for the University of Viginia’s Cavalier Daily has been forced to resign after a controversy erupted over one of his cartoons, entitled “Ethiopian Food Fight” which showed emaciated African men fighting with chairs and other objects.

The drawing prompted strong condemnation from the university’s black community. On Wednesday evening, nearly 200 people staged a sit-in outside the paper’s office in Newcomb Hall, demanding an apology and for Woolard to be fired.

The managing board met that first demand on Thursday with an apology published in the paper’s lead editorial. Woolard also apologized.

“This is settled now,” the dean of African-American Affairs, Maurice Apprey, said on Monday. “Also, we now have the opportunity for better dialogue between student groups and the Cavalier Daily.”

“I think the young man who wrote the cartoon was operating under the principle that there can be multiple meanings to a cartoon. But what he did not seem to understand is that what you intend is not necessarily how something will be received. That shows immaturity on his part and I think this is an important lesson for him,” Apprey said.


Woolard is still in fighting mode over his dismissal, and says that his editors approved the strip; three other cartoonsits have quit to protest his firing. It was not Woolard’s first brush with controversy, however. Last year he drew criticism for a cartoon showing Christ being crucified on Cartesian X and Y quadrants (above), which would be funny if anyone could understand it.

1 COMMENT

  1. As a math geek, I feel obligated to point out that the graph is incorrect.

    The parabola should cross the x-axis at approximately 1.732 and -1.732 (the square roots of 3), not 3 and -3.

    That said, I still have no idea what the point of the cartoon is supposed to be.

  2. Get over it people. Has anyone seen South Park? It’s far worse then this. I don’t like South Park because of it, but I just roll my eyes and move on. Is that so hard, or do so many people really have so much time on their hands? If so, I’d like to ask them where to get it, because I’m to busy for that kind of crap.

  3. The cartoon sounds funny and insightful honestly.

    It does what editorial cartoons should, bring attention to a situation through humor. What is the problem here, pointing out that starving people are starving? Whats the problem?

    Granted you can’t tell someone else what to not be offended by, but I don’t see the brouhaha here.

  4. They look to be as emaciated as Britney Spears did at the VMA’s. Starving people usually look skinny. These people don’t look to be skinny. They look puffy.

    It’s sad that someone can be fired over something as stupid as this. The fact that someone would actually pretend to be offended over this cartoon is embarrassing. I guess the only safe cartoon is one that shows an over weight cat that likes to eat lasagna. Cartoon anything else and you risk offending someone and getting fired.

    What gets me the most about this is the message it sends. I guess its okay to offend Christians, but not Ethiopians. It should either be acceptable to offend everyone or no one at all.

  5. ““This is settled now,” the dean of African-American Affairs, Maurice Apprey, said on Monday. “…I think the young man who wrote the cartoon was operating under the principle that there can be multiple meanings to a cartoon. But what he did not seem to understand is that what you intend is not necessarily how something will be received. That shows immaturity on his part and I think this is an important lesson for him…”

    Interesting. His cartoon was not received the way he intended. Now that everyone knows what he intended, they still demanded that Woolard be fired. Thus, they have “opened a dialogue” with the newspaper by bullying it. This shows great immaturity on Maurice Apprey’s part. On another note, what role does a dean of African-American Affairs play on the campus? Is this the same as a dean of African-American Studies?

  6. Shouldn’t the dean of Ethiopian-American Affairs have been the one to take point on this? Not every African-American is of Ethiopian decent. If people insist on being offended over something as ridiculous as this, they should at the very least make sure it pertains to them.

    It’s like assuming the people depicted in the cartoon are left-handed and as a left-handed-American, I am offended greatly by any cartoon that depicts left-handed people engaging in an activity that robs them of their dignity.

  7. Rick:

    “African” isn’t so specific in America. Owing largely to the fact that most people of African descent have been forcibly stripped of their tribal and “national” (inasmuch as the African nations are “real” and not largely European colonial constructs) identities, most blacks outside of Africa tend to adopt the entire continent as a very general sense of where we came from.

    That, and the fact that “Africa” is generally dismissed in the West and has been for hundreds and hundreds of years as an amorphous/homogeneous/monolithic entity, further dehumanizing all African peoples by creating this all-purpose black hole (no pun intended, of course).

    Or simply: since Western culture does not care about Africa, Africa has become a catch-all idea to most Westerners.

  8. I think it’s a stretch when people with no connection to the cartoon decide to act as though they are “offended” because of it and then demand that someone be fired over it. I wonder if they would feel as strong of a continent connection if the men depicted in the cartoon were identified as Egyptians. I’m guessing not.

    The men depicted in the cartoon were identified as Ethiopians, not African-Americans. People should have a higher threshold when it comes to what they become offended by.

  9. Absolutely. People should also realize that we allegedly have freedom of speech and expression in the US and if everyone who was offended by something in art got that art banned- everything would be banned!

  10. Freedom of speech means that the cartoonist can still do whatever kinds of cartoons he or she desires to do, he or she may just not be able to continue to have them published in certain places where they are likely to offend people. Cartoonists have to keep in that their work is open to interpretation and be mindful of the possibility that there may be negative consequences involved in others’ interpretations of the cartoonist’s personal expression.
    People who look at cartoons should also be just as free to have their reactions or their interpretations to cartoons and express those reations. Regarding “cruxifiction by math”, Christ’s cruxifiction by parabola didn’t seem to stop me from going to Hell in Algebra.

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