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School Paper In Hot Water After Cartoon Offends Black Students

Blake Neff

Students at a New York public university are outraged after an illustration in the campus paper showed a stereotypical image of a black man standing in a run-down neighborhood:

Racist SUNY-Plattsburgh cartoon [WPTZ News Screengrab]

The illustration in Cardinal Points, the school paper of the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, was made to accompany an article examining admission rates for minorities. It shows a smiling black man wearing a cap and gown and carrying a diploma, while walking through an urban hellscape featuring a mangled stop sign, a car on cinder blocks, and buildings with boarded up windows and graffiti.

Students say the image is both racist and ignorant.

“I’m from New York City. There’s no community that looks like that [with a] broken stop sign, burnt down buildings or cars that look that way,” student Antwan Clark told local WPTZ News.

The editors of Cardinal Points posted an apology on the paper’s website.

“It has come to our attention that the graphic in question not only has a disconnect to the article it was created to work with, but it also unintentionally features offensive and stereotypical elements that misrepresent African ­American students,” the apology says. “[We] are using this as a constructive learning experience because we wish, more than anything, to remain an outlet of positivity and inclusion.”

But just in case an apology isn’t enough, college president John Ettling scheduled a meeting for Monday night where students were free to have “continuing conversations about the broader matters of race, community and inclusion.” More meetings would be scheduled in the future, Ettling said.

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