A professor of mine just e-mailed me the above cartoon. Apparently, it caused quite a stir in Jacksonville, Florida.
I understand that editorial cartoons are often sarcastic and call attention to problems by over-dramatizing them but this seems a bit over the top even for the editorial pages.
Having done a good deal of research on hip-hop culture and on its general misogyny, I can say that the word "ho" is far from uncommon, I can even understand how this cartoonist meant to sarcastically draw attention to it. Where he loses me is in his ignorance of location politics.
A critique as blatant as this needs more sensitivity and more attention to the voice of the cartoonist. In a piece like this his race, class, gender, ethnicity, and more are relevant. I wonder how often little girls are called 'hos' in hip hop culture. I suppose it is not a huge stretch, but does this cartoonist really have the authority to say that?
The cartoonist was critiquing a so-called "no-snitching" culture. Hip-hop certainly plays a role in perpetuating a mistrust of authority but one also has to ask are authorities always deserving of trust? In a community where police abuse is rampant mistrust seems natural. Perhaps a cartoon about police brutality would make more of a statement about the "no-snitching" mentality.
I also wonder why the use of the word "ho" was even necessary here. The cartoonist might be calling attention to the fact that young people are increasingly influenced by the imagery of hip-hop and that they are perpetuating mistrust after hearing their favorite rappers talk about it. But, again, what does calling a little girl a "ho" have to do with any of that?
The use of language in this cartoon is just plain racist. The word "ho" was unnecessary and probably misused, a mistake an ignorant white guy might easily make. I think that Isaiah Rumlin was right on when he said that if this paper has more African American staff making these big decisions, this cartoon never would have been published. It is something to consider.