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Stephanie Eisner and the Case of the Racist Trayvon Martin Cartoon

by Published on
Stephanie Eisner
The cartoon originally printed in The Daily Texan.

On Tuesday, University of Texas student newspaper, The Daily Texan, published a political cartoon on the topic of Trayvon Martin and yellow journalism.

The image seems to say that all the fuss made over the gunning down of unarmed African-American Florida teen Trayvon Martin by self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman is just a story cooked up by the liberal media.

It features a woman reading a story to a child. The title of the book she’s reading is, “Treyvon [sic] Martin and The Case of Yellow Journalism,” except that Daily Texan cartoonist Stephanie Eisner drew the title starting on the back cover and continuing horizontally to the front cover. If you read it the way it would read on a real book, it says, “Treyvon And The Yellow,” and “Martin Case of Journalism”.

Then there’s the fact that she misspelled Trayvon’s first name. And that it’s actually the rocking chair that’s labeled “The Media” and not the woman. Oh, and I know this is UT, but do we have to bring football into it? Or, what the heck is that on the child’s chest? It looks like she’s so shocked that the media made up this horrible story that she dropped her NCAA championship trophy.

I bring all this up to point out that the cartoon is so haphazardly drawn that it seems Ms. Eisner didn’t put much thought into what she was saying about this 17 year-old child who was gunned down for no reason at all, and the laughable justice system that still hasn’t charged his killer. And all this offensiveness is before we even consider the words being read by “The Media” to the child:

And THEN, the BIG BAD WHITE man killed the HANDSOME, sweet, innocent, COLORED Boy.

If Eisner’s beef here is really the liberal media bias and not African Americans, what on earth would possess her to call Martin a “colored boy”? Her statement to the press apologizing for what she calls an “ambiguous cartoon,” gives us no further explanation:

I apologize for what was in hindsight an ambiguous cartoon related to the Trayvon Martin shooting. I intended to contribute thoughtful commentary on the media coverage of the incident, however this goal fell flat. I would like to make it explicitly clear that I am not a racist, and that I am personally appalled by the killing of Trayvon Martin. I regret any pain the wording or message of my cartoon may have caused.

What Eisner seems to have missed in the creation of her cartoon is that the media is covering the story because Trayvon Martin was black precisely because he got shot because he was black, and George Zimmerman hasn’t been charged because Trayvon Martin was black. That Trayvon Martin was black is the story here.

What’s even more appalling is that this cartoon made it through a board of editors who defended themselves in yesterday’s Daily Texan by saying it’s their policy to let contributors say their piece.

The views expressed in the cartoon are not those of the editorial board. They are those of the artist. It is the policy of the editorial board to publish the views of our columnists and cartoonists, even if we disagree with them.

What’s upsetting about the cartoon is that it smacks of an entitled young, white person from The Woodlands, (and yes, there can be white Hispanics and George Zimmerman is one and, guess what, so is Stephanie Eisner), belittling the plight of dark-skinned children who are not allowed to walk down the street in a hoodie lest they be gunned down for the way they are perceived.

Cindy Casares is a columnist for the Texas Observer. She is also the founding Editor of Guanabee Media, an English-language, pop culture blog network about Latinos established in 2007. She has a Master's in Mass Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter. Prior to her career in journalism, she spent ten years in New York City as an advertising copywriter. During her undergraduate career at the University of Texas she served under Governor Ann Richards as a Senate Messenger during the 72nd Texas Legislature.