Column: Like many students, The Daily Gamecock has lessons to learn

The Daily Gamecock received a call Sunday night raising concerns about a cartoon depicting 2019-2020 candidates for student body president.

The cartoon was removed because it perpetuated an offensive stereotype that, regardless of intent, could be and was perceived as racist.

Student body presidential candidates Casey Hamlin, Lyric Swinton, Patrick Ellis, Luke Rankin and Jacob Thompson were shown climbing a mountain — a literal representation of the race each of them are running. 

The exaggerated expression of emotion and possible anger on each candidate's face does not translate the same for the white men in the cartoon as it does for the black woman. Too often we have seen the "angry black woman" stereotype pushed through political cartoons, and it doesn't matter whether our cartoon breached press standards. Those instances do not align with what we at The Daily Gamecock stand for.

To Lyric Swinton, the sport and entertainment management student who has run an honest campaign on diversity and inclusion, The Daily Gamecock extends a sincere apology.

A mostly white senior staff has lessons to learn — some easy, some hard. It is no one's job but ours to practice fair and honest reporting, and it is no one's job but ours to learn the lesson that some things are not a matter of intent, but rather a matter of perception.

After receiving the call about the cartoon, hearts in the room sank, not for themselves, but for Swinton and for every woman of color on USC's campus.

Journalists should be aware of their history so that they can work to stay on the right side of it. The editors of The Daily Gamecock apologize for communicating an offensive stereotype to a mass audience.

My background is in news writing, not column writing. I am willing to risk termination (due to credibility issues that stem from writing both news articles and this opinion piece) to make this statement on behalf of my colleagues.

We at The Daily Gamecock feel that even if something seems subjective, it is never OK to push rhetoric in any form that hurts a group of people.

I am sure that Swinton has not been deterred, but I wish her luck in her race for student body president.


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