Frank Magazine issues apology after publishing controversial cartoon
A Halifax-based satirical magazine says it is sorry some people believe a recent caricature has racist overtones, but the publication stops short of offering a direct apology to the woman depicted in the drawing.
Andrew Douglas, the managing editor of the Atlantic version of Frank Magazine, apologized to readers on Tuesday also saying he's fearful that the depiction of El Jones among a group of protesters in the cartoon could attract alt-right groups to the publication.
"We never intended to make a racist cartoon," Douglas says. "It's a very subjective thing and we can understand how, subjectively, some people could find it to be a racist depiction."
The depiction of Jones with a sloping forehead and large chin has ignited a firestorm online, with accusations of it being thinly-veiled racism. There are rumblings of an organized boycott, and calls for retailers to pull the magazine.
Jones, a black poet and activist in Halifax, believes the depiction is a throwback to racist images in magazines in the 1800s.
"It's not the only racist thing in the painting,” Jones says. “There's a black baby crawling unattended in this cartoon, because apparently black people don't care of our children.”
Sarah Dunsworth, an actor on the "Trailer Park Boys" series, said on Twitter the "racist harassment ... Is disgusting and shameful," and is among those calling for a boycott.
The racist harassment of Nova Scotian poet and activist El Jones by @Frank_Mag is disgusting and shameful.— Sarah Dunsworth (@SarahDunsworth) October 10, 2017
Dunsworth has called for stores, including the Sobeys chain, to pull the latest issue off their shelves. Sobeys responded with a tweet denouncing discrimination, but saying little else.
Sobeys denounces commentary that is discriminatory in any way, whether directed at an individual or a group.— Sobeys (@sobeys) October 10, 2017
"This is a discussion we're having with the magazine and our internal team, and it's all the information we have to share," Sobeys tweeted Wednesday.
Douglas is making it known that he’s not apologizing to Jones, but to readers.
"I think it is too much to apologize to her because there was absolutely no intent,” he says. “It's about acknowledging the fact that some could subjectively see this as racist, but there was absolutely no intent on our part."
A Nova Scotia-based alt-right group is defending the publication on Twitter – something Douglas says he condemns.
“That really makes me uncomfortable,” he says, “thinking that (alt-right groups) are of the belief that they're kindred spirits with us."
But Jones believes the publication can’t counter her arguments, so they “go to lowest common denominator in a racist attack.”
"Monkey caricatures are very, very common with black people," Jones says. "What you see is when I say, 'There's racism in Halifax,' they respond by drawing me an ape."
Douglas says the depiction of Jones is currently being modified.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko and The Canadian Press.