Auchter's Art: A simple debate | Michigan Radio
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Auchter's Art: A simple debate

Apr 26, 2019

The most difficult thing about drawing this cartoon was deciding what the two people should look like. I ended up with two vaguely middle-aged white guys. But it took me a long time to get there.

For cartoons where the appearance of age/sex/race/weight has nothing to do with the point I'm trying to make, I try to vary the character types for diversity. I am a middle-aged white guy, so I fight defaulting to my own biases. But this can be a problem, depending on what the characters are actually doing or how they are behaving.

Say I have somebody in the background eating watermelon. It shouldn't matter the race of that person. But it very much does. There are all sorts of deeply racist connotations associated with black people and watermelon. And as a white person drawing it — did I intend to offend? Was I unaware of the offense? Which would be worse? (Even writing about this hypothetically makes me squeamish.)

So after much due diligence, I drew what I drew to limit attention to the characters themselves. (The first guy is roughly a self caricature because the rant is definitely my rant.) But in the end, I'm sure some could be distracted by the two white guys and question my motives. I know this because people make a point of telling me what offends them and often it's nothing I intended.

That's fine. In fact, it's great. I think it's better to have discussions (however awkward) than it is to avoid having them at all.

John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.