Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Cartoon on Welfare Stirs a Big Response

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Cartoon on Welfare Stirs a Big Response

Article excerpt

MANY BLACK READERS were angered by a Mike Luckovich editorial cartoon in the Atlanta Constitution.

But Luckovich said the drawing, meant to knock congressional welfare reform efforts, was misunderstood. And, as the days went on, many other African Americans expressed support for the cartoon.

The Sept. 21 cartoon pictured a white congressman holding a black baby by the shirt as he snarled, "Either your unskilled, uneducated mother gets a job, or you're dead meat."

Luckovich told E&P that he was putting words in the congressman's mouth, not saying them himself The 1995 Pulitzer Prize winner explained that he was trying to satirically convey that it's hard for welfare recipients to find jobs without adequate training -- not to mention adequate child care and health benefits.

But a number of readers felt the cartoon reinforced the stereotype that most welfare recipients are black.

"For the record, it is a fact that the largest group of recipients of welfare benefits is single white females," wrote one reader.

Luckovich responded that he made the child black because he believes "the welfare reform campaign is motivated in part by the perception that most people on welfare are black .... If it was all white people on welfare, it wouldn't be happening."

Numerous other people wrote, and more than 1,000 called, the Constitution on Sept. 21 and 22.

On Sept. 23, the paper ran a page filled with pro and con letters as well as statements from Luckovich and his editorial page editor, Cynthia Tucker. …

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