A Boston Herald artist is “sorry” after his incredibly racist Obama cartoon was perceived as racist. The cartoon, which lampoons the “White House gate crasher” situation, features President Obama in the bathroom brushing his teeth with the intruder in the bathtub.
“Have you tried the new watermelon flavored toothpaste,” the dopey-looking cracker asks a very surprised President Obama.
Jerry Holbert, the artist who drew the cartoon, says that he didn’t even consider the well-known African-American stereotype that has embarrassed our nation for generations. “It was completely naïve or innocent of any racial suggestion. I wasn’t thinking along those lines at all,” Holbrook claims.
Boston Magazine reports that Holbrook remained oblivious to the problem despite receiving requests that he change the flavor to “raspberry.”
Holbert made the apology during an interview on Boston Herald radio with Joe Battenfeld and Hillary Chabot on Wednesday morning, just hours after snapshots and links to the cartoon went viral.
Holbert told Chabot and Battenfeld that the idea to use “watermelon” instead of “peppermint” or another common toothpaste flavor in the text of the cartoon came after he looked through a cupboard and discovered someone had left “a kids Colgate watermelon flavor” there.
“I, myself, love watermelon, and I thought that would be a great one,” he said.
After images of another version of the cartoon that were featured on a syndicate site called GoComics.com made the rounds online, there was speculation—including from Boston—about whether the Herald chose to change the name of the toothpaste flavor right before the newspaper went to print.
But Holbert clarified Wednesday that it was his intention to include the term “watermelon” in his cartoon, not thinking about the racial connotations, and the switch to “raspberry” was made by outside editors since his cartoons are syndicated.
Holbert told the radio station that on Tuesday night someone wrote to him and asked if they could change the watermelon reference, and he was “confused” by the request. “I changed it to raspberry and sent it back to them,” he said.
“I also apologize to anyone I offended, it was not my intention at all,” said Holbert. “I don’t think along the lines of racial jokes, I never do. Naïve, stupid—those kinds of things I understand. But racist, I am definitely not.”
The Herald also apologized:
“As Jerry Holbert discussed on Boston Herald Radio this morning, his cartoon satirizing the U.S. Secret Service breach at the White House has offended some people and to them we apologize. His choice of imagery was absolutely not meant to be hurtful. We stand by Jerry, who is a veteran cartoonist with the utmost integrity.”
h/t: Liberal America