A Black cartoonist is calling out censorship after a number of newspapers dropped her company’s comics because of a strip that discussed the coronavirus pandemic through the lens of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Bianca Xunise — the Tuesday cartoonist for all-female team Six Chix and the second Black woman ever to have her cartoons nationally syndicated —created a comic that incorporated anti-mask rhetoric and social justice. The comic shows a Black woman in an “I can’t breathe” t-shirt wearing a mask while a white woman tells her “If you can’t breathe, then take that silly mask off!”
The comic received a substantial amount of backlash, enough that a number of the 120 newspapers that publish Six Chix comics told the artists they will no longer be running their content, reports Rolling Out.
“Here it is, the comic that launched 1000 angry responses. Please clap,” Xunise wrote on Twitter.
Here it is, the comic that launched 1000 angry responses. Please clap pic.twitter.com/Cy42h8mlMB
— Scary Bradshaw ???????? (@biancaxunise) July 28, 2020
After the negative response, Xunise, who is the first Black woman to be hired at Six Chix, updated the tweet and touched on the results. Some of the newspapers also published apologies, which Xunise says she did not approve of and called “censorship.”
“Tuesday’s edition included a Six Chix comic that was inappropriate and offensive. We have notified the syndicate that provides the comic that we will no longer be running Six Chix in our newspaper as a result. We’ve also requested an apology from them,” one of the papers printed in response to the comic.
So apparently the angry responses got my comic dropped from some newspapers and an apology that I did not approve of is running in its place. For the record I do not apologize for this comic and this is censorship. https://t.co/rfIAMP6wO9
— Scary Bradshaw ???????? (@biancaxunise) July 30, 2020
Because of the backlash she has received, Xunise explained the strip on Twitter, saying it wasn’t intended to assume every white woman who she interacts with is racist.
“The point is how white people see issues that effect black peoples as trivial. The whole mask debate has been compared to oppression which I find incredibly offensive,” she wrote. “The fact that white peoples want to claim oppression now for having to do their civic duty of protecting others is not the black struggle whatsoever.”
Yt ppl have assumed for generations that racism is simply about our sensitivity & not a systemic issue. Furthermore I want this comic to challenge liberal whites who assume that every white person they feel superior over is racist. This is just a random white woman, idk her (3/3)
— Scary Bradshaw ???????? (@biancaxunise) July 28, 2020
She also took to Instagram to call out the silencing of Black voices and to explain that she had expounded on the comic’s satire.
View this post on Instagram
Well in case you missed it, it’s come to my attention that my comic that was published on this past Tuesday with Six Chix forced certain newspapers to decide that they will no longer be running our comic. (Fwiw they got our byline wrong too) Further more they released this “apology” without my permission. (swipe to read) For the record I do not apologize for this comic and this is compete censorship. I am being silenced over white feelings about a gag comic! And I thought I was an avocado toast buying snowflake. Honestly my favorite part of this comic is the black character says nothing at all and yet she says what needed to be said. To be clear there was no misunderstanding of the message of my comic. The team at Comics Kingdom and myself spent due diligence explaining the “hard to grasp” satire. So in their apology, they are standing against exactly what you think they are. Please stop giving the benefit of the doubt to people who silence black voices. Also if getting banned outta California and censored out of the newspaper doesn’t earn me my punk stripes, nothing will! PS please don’t forget to support my work and if you felt like I educated you in some way my tip jar is linked in my bio! Or support me on Patreon. Pay black women for their labor and their inevitable emotional turmoil that follows. Peace! #comics #instacomics #blacklivesmatter
“For the record I do not apologize for this comic and this is complete censorship. I am being silenced over white feelings about a gag comic! … To be clear there was no misunderstanding of the message of my comic,” she wrote. “Please stop giving the benefit of the doubt to people who silence black voices.”
The editorial director for King Features Syndicate, which distributes Six Chix, supported her on social media against trolls.
“Yes, we support Bianca 100%, and this newspaper editor has been told as much,” Tea Fougner posted to Twitter.
Im Bianca’s Syndicate editor. Yes, we support Bianca 100%, and this newspaper editor has been told as much.
— Tea Berry-Blue (@teaberryblue) July 30, 2020
Fougner also explained to NBC News that the comic was shedding light on two ongoing pandemics.
“Bianca created the July 28, 2020, ‘Six Chix’ cartoon to be a joke commenting on how Black issues are often disregarded as a personal problem and not a systemic issue,” Fougner said. “She is shedding light on two pandemics right now: one on race and another on COVID-19, and both are not being taken seriously while they are destroying lives.”
According to Xunise, the comic is reviewed twice before being printed, once by her comic editors and another by newspaper editors.
“The editors at whatever newspaper it lands at should’ve read the comics and flagged it if they got offended,” Xunise said. “I’m just an artist; that’s your job.”