Whoever thought a watermelon cartoon could be controversial?

It’s gotten to the point where every day people just want to me mad about something.

There has to be a daily outrage. Something people can point to and say, “I am SO offended by this.” Nine out of ten times, it’s not offensive.

What was on the agenda for today? A political cartoon in the Boston Herald, one of the city’s premiere daily print newspapers.

The cartoon poked fun at the recent invader who hopped the gated fence outside the White House last month, and made it shockingly far into the Capitol Building before he was finally brought down by security. The invader, Omar Gonzalez, was carrying a knife, and officials later found 800 rounds of ammunition in his car. In light of the incident, Julia Pierson, the director of the Secret Service, resigned on Wednesday.

Herald CartoonSince the intrusion happened about two weeks ago, and no one was actually hurt, I think it’s fair game to be the subject of a political cartoon. Obviously, so did the Boston Herald. But their cartoon, which depicts the invader humorously taking a bath behind President Obama as he brushed his teeth in the morning, included a few words that could be interpreted as racist.

And if there’s anything we know about today’s media, it’s that if something could be interpreted as racist, it will be interpreted as racist.


In the cartoon, the invader asks Obama, “Have you tried the watermelon flavored toothpaste?”

The cartoon’s attempted humor lies in the fact that the invader made it all the way to Obama’s personal bathroom. What he actually said to him has no bearing on the cartoon itself.

And yet, it became the subject of controversy, as fondness for watermelon is apparently a stereotype on African Americans.

You can’t see, but I’m doing a face palm. Actually, I’m not doing it, because I know you can’t see me. But I’ll do one right now just to keep this authentic. Alright , hold on … done. I just face palmed.

I don’t know what I’m more mad about: the faux outrage behind this cartoon, or the cries of racism.

The cartoonist, Jerry Holbert, said he chose watermelon at random, because it’s the flavor his kids use. There was no ill intent behind it.

Clearly, it’s a slow news day. Because if something actually racist happened today, then no one would care about this.

First of all, I didn’t even know that the association of watermelon with black people is a stereotype. I had no idea. Watermelon is damn good. If black people enjoy it, so what? How is that racist? White people like it too!

If you’re a group of people who are known for liking watermelon, you should be damn proud of it.

Furthermore, by crying racism, all it’s accomplishing is perpetuating the stereotype. Through this story, now more people are becoming aware that black people + watermelon = racist. If it was left alone, then no one would have been any the wiser, and no one’s racist. It’s that simple.

The Boston Herald has since apologized. Because there’s really no point trying to defend yourself when someone calls you racist.

If I have to get on Jerry Holbert and the Boston Herald for anything, it’s the fact that one of their syndicates called him the night before, and, foreseeing a potential backlash, asked if they could change “watermelon” to “raspberry” in their version. That probably should have given Holbert an indication that he should rethink his own wording.

Either way, it’s a just a huge fail by the general public all around.

If you excuse me now, I’m going to have some watermelon, because it’s goddamn delicious.

One thought on “Whoever thought a watermelon cartoon could be controversial?

  1. People are walking on eggshells.

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