In the aftermath of Charlottesville, at a time when racial sensitivity is high, a conservative policy group in Illinois foolishly used a caricature of a Black child—reminiscent of the old Sambo images—to express an education policy view.
The Washington Post reports that the Chicago-based Illinois Policy Institute, with ties to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, came under fire and reluctantly took down the cartoon.
It shows a Black child from Chicago begging a wealthy White man for money. The boy, sitting on the street, holds a sign that reads, “Need Money 4 School.”
State Rep. Christian Mitchell, a Black Chicago Democrat, tweeted that the depiction of the Black child is a “Sambo” cartoon.
“There is a way to make a policy point that’s legitimate, but not in a way that caricatures African-Americans and provokes a dark history,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “It was extraordinarily hurtful — and hurtful in the context of this week.”
Mitchell said the group had many creative alternatives to make its point effectively, The Chicago Tribune reported.
“But you made a different choice, one that links to a dark and troubled history, and when confronted with it, decided to double down,” he added.
Indeed, the group defended the cartoon on a Black radio talk show, arguing that it “told the truth” about practices that are unfair to minorities in Illinois’ school funding battle.
Even after removing the cartoon, the institute’s CEO John Tillman remained defiant.
“We have taken down the cartoon, not because we think it is racist, but because it is a distraction from another truth — the failure of political leaders to address the root cause of our struggling education system,” he said in a statement.
SOURCE: Washington Post, Associated Press, Chicago Tribune
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