- Riley Smith
- The authors of this letter are faculty members of Mount Saint Vincent University.
As faculty members at Mount Saint Vincent University and concerned members of the Halifax community, we write to express our outrage at the racist caricature of El Jones, our colleague at MSVU, that appeared in the pages of Frank Magazine. The cartoon showed Jones, along with Halifax’s poet laureate Rebecca Thomas and others, at a recent protest of Halifax`s Edward Cornwallis statue.
We object strongly to the racist depiction of Jones, who was singled out for ape-like representation in a manner entirely stylistically consistent with the long, odious tradition of racist caricatures of Black and brown people. Animalistic representations of people of African descent originated in and maintain racist ideas of Black people as subhuman, uncivilized, unintelligent and dangerous. For hundreds of years, they accompanied pseudo-scientific colonial attempts to “prove” the inferiority and inhumanity of entire peoples to facilitate their brutalization, dispossession and exploitation. They were visual markers of Jim Crow, apartheid, slavery and genocide. To contextualize this depiction is not to censor satire, it is to identify the way racism works in an everyday way. The explanations about the non-racist intent behind the depiction offered by the Frank editorial team and the cartoonist are disingenuous and duplicitous, attributing ill intent to those who might perceive the cartoon in a racist way rather than taking responsibility for intentionally crafting and circulating that representation. In 2017, at a moment charged with issues of racial injustice, Frank Magazine depicted a celebrated activist, artist, academic and educator who has been publicly addressing issues of white supremacy and racism, and who is a member of Nova Scotia’s Black community, as a monkey.
Adriana Benzaquen, associate professor, history
Susan Brigham, professor, education
Leslie Brown, professor, sociology & anthropology
Mary Delaney, associate professor, women’s studies
Maya Eichler, assistant professor, political & women’s studies
Tammy Findlay, associate professor, Canadian & political studies
Roni Gechtman, associate professor, history
Marnina Gonick, professor, education & women’s studies
Alex Khasnabish, associate professor, sociology & anthropology
Jeffrey MacLeod, associate professor, Canadian & political studies
Hazel MacRae, associate professor, sociology & anthropology
KelleyAnne Malinen, assistant professor, sociology & anthropology
Diane Piccitto, assistant professor, English
Sherry Pictou, assistant professor, women’s studies
Meredith Ralston, professor, Canadian & women’s studies
James Sawler, associate professor, economics
Corey Slumkoski, associate professor, history
Donna Varga, professor, child & youth study
Martha Walls, assistant professor, history
Rhoda Zuk, associate professor, English