Say What?

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No sooner had the above cartoon been published than complaints from offended readers began to reach the offices of The Rebel Yell, student newspaper of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. It was early-1997, not long after a controversial decision by the school board of Oakland to recognise Ebonics as a primary language had kick-started a national debate, and editorial cartoonist Alex Raffi had clearly hit a raw nerve with his irony-steeped piece. Multiple allegations of racism provoked the newspaper’s staff to publicly back him, whilst Raffi himself drew another cartoon and offered explanations to as many people as possible, but it was this letter from Pullitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Berkeley Breathed in response to a request for guidance that provided the advice needed. Says Raffi:

Amazingly he offered me his advice. I learned a lesson early on that doing this kind of work is a privilege. You better be clear on what you mean. I still believe in the point of the cartoon but I executed it very poorly


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Letters of Note

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