For Release: July 19, 2004
Contact: David Almasi at 202/543-4110 x106
Black Group Condemns Cartoonist for Racist Strip About Condoleezza Rice Project 21 Asks Civil Rights Community to Join in Call to Hold Cartoonist to the Same Standard to Which It Holds Rush Limbaugh
Because of the racially-insensitive content of a recent cartoon, members of the African-American leadership network Project 21 are asking Universal Press Syndicate to cease the distribution of comics drawn by Ted Rall. Project 21 also is challenging several other civil rights-oriented groups to join in the demand.
A July 1 comic by Rall suggests "appropriate punishments for deposed Bushists" that parodies alleged treatment of Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison. The panel featuring Bush Administration national security advisor Condoleezza Rice has her saying "I was Bush's beard! His house nigga. His..." She is interrupted by a character wearing a shirt reading "You're not white, stupid" who says, "Now hand over your hair straightener."
"Is it OK for Ted Rall to use such vile language because he's using it against a black conservative?" asks Project 21 member Michael King. "I'm beside myself with anger over this comic."
Project 21 is asking Universal Press Syndicate, the distributor of Rall's comics, to immediately terminate their relationship with him. Project 21 is also asking the NAACP, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition to make similar demands based on their past involvement in pressuring ESPN to fire radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh in 2003.
Last year, in his capacity as a football commentator for ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown," Limbaugh criticized the performance of Philadelphia Eagle's quarterback Donovan McNabb, saying, "The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well." Afterwards, NAACP president and CEO Kweisi Mfume called Limbaugh's comments "bigoted and arrogant" and called for his removal. The NABJ demanded ESPN "separate itself" from Limbaugh. Rainbow/PUSH Coalition president Jesse Jackson called the remarks "not accurate and... insulting." Limbaugh later resigned.
"From radical poet Amiri Baraka to singer Harry Belafonte and now cartoonist Ted Rall, too many people feel they have free rein to insult the dignity of Condoleezza Rice and have no problem injecting race into that abuse," adds King. "It's time for the civil rights establishment to stop allowing this assault on an accomplished black woman or they put their credibility at risk."
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x106 or Project21@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.
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