Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ignorance proliferated

From New Adventure Comics #16 from the mid 1930s, comes these seemingly innocuous and benign comic strips. For the most part, comics at the time were glad to publish new material. However, this slice of life from the 1930s shows just how ignorant and unknowingly prejudicial people could be.

"Ah thinks Ah's got insomnia!! Ah keeps wakin up every two or three days!"

First of all, the caricatures are not very flattering. If you look at the other figures on the main page, these guys are dressed poorly and unshaven. The color, of course, is too much as well. Secondly, their accent is rather unflattering.

The worst part is the gross stereotype laid upon them. I am completely shocked that this was deemed funny or even appropriate. It is really calling a segment of society lazy, in one single comic panel. Nobody can say this wasn't the intent because the rest of the page features Caucasians and this square panel would not have the same impact any other way.

Wow. There's nothing left to say. This, however, is one of those instances where jokes hurt. We must learn from these situations and understand what impact it is having.

I wish I could show this to my Multicultural Education professor from Western Illinois University. I can hear him saying, "Powerful, powerful stuff." His message came through loud and clear from that class. And while I didn't learn any facts or trivia in that class, really, I sure did learn the overlying message. That was one of the best classes I ever took.

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