African American Student Services gathered outside Mesa Vista Hall on Wednesday to protest what it said was a racist depiction of President Barack Obama in the Opinion section of Tuesday’s Daily Lobo.
AASS student employees Christina Foster and Kyran Worrell spoke to a crowd of about 30 people about the illustration, which parodied a scene in “The Lion King.” The original scene showed a monkey, Rafiki, holding baby lion Simba over a cliff.
The political cartoon that appeared in the newspaper depicted Obama as Rafiki — his face distorted to look more like the monkey in the film — holding Osama bin Laden’s severed head in place of Simba.
Foster said that, historically, African-Americans have been depicted as monkeys to show that they are less than human. She said such a cartoon sends the wrong message to the community.
“This is a continual use of racial propaganda,” she said. “… And I stand here today to tell you that is not what we’re going to stand for. This racial propaganda was used to justify the use of slavery and to keep the institution of slavery alive in this nation.”
Foster said this is not the first time the Daily Lobo has been insensitive to ethnic groups in its reporting, and that something needs to change.
“Our goal is to educate that future journalistic contributions will be representative with what UNM should truly stand for, which is respect and diversity of its students and its community,” she said.
In an email to the Daily Lobo on Sept. 29, 2010, AASS Director Scott Carreathers said the newspaper’s coverage of the football team and head coach Mike Locksley was racially insensitive to the African-American community.
He said a photo of Locksley printed in the Sept. 13 edition of the Daily Lobo was an example of this racial insensitivity. The photo was printed under the headline “Shouting Match.”
Carreathers said Locksley was not involved in a verbal altercation when the photo was taken, but the headline suggested he was.
Worrell said racism and cultural insensitivity are problems throughout the UNM community.
“We are a minority within a minority,” he said. “It is reflected not only through the student body, but also through faculty and staff that we are tired of this. Not only from the Daily Lobo, but from other entities in relation to the University of New Mexico. And I’m here to say we will not stop here. We are prepared to take further protestive action.”