Saturday, January 01, 2022


Herriman Saturday: March 9 1910

 March 9 1910 -- Herriman manages to hit a racist trifecta in this strip about black boxers contending for championships:

1. A particularly offensive racial slur in the headline.

2. An image of Jeff Johnson running away with a white woman ... we know what that's all about.

3. A possible new coinage for a racial slur, which actually seems sort of complimentary -- 'maduros' likens Jack Johnson to strong cigars with dark wrappers.


Four, including "dinge".

I have a hard time understanding how Herriman, a mulatto (though closeted), who no doubt knew many black people when growing up in New Orleans, was so detached from the effects of these kind of offensive stereotypes, even allowing that cartoonists of his circle were pretty uninhibited.
I think Herriman's racism has the same explanation as anti-Semites who turn out to have Jewish ancestry, or homophobes who are gay. As Shakespeare said, some people "protest too much."
That should say "Jack Johnson" in reference to the black character in the last panel. "Jeff" refers to the white boxer James Jeffries who was going to face Jack Johnson for the championship.
Oops, flying fingers betrayed me. Fixed.
In response to Herriman I would say your comment says more about our time than Herriman's. I fully agree these stereotypes are offensive now and have been for a long time. But I am not completely sure if they were seen as part of the oppressive culture by the oppressed. It may be that they can only hurt f you are aware of the fact that they were hurtful. Implying that this is similar to Jewish anti-semites or gay homophobes is taking our view into the minds of people 120 years ago.

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