A. D. Powell's commentary on "The Boondocks" in the June 26 Free for All certainly validates the "eye of the beholder" principle.
In this reader's eye, Huey's militancy appears as a tool to poke fun at those very positions Powell believes cartoonist McGruder is advocating.
Huey's insistence that Jazmine identify herself as African American is exactly the point that brings an observer to conclude "now isn't that ridiculous."
Huey's attempt to paint all non-blacks as Klan sympathizers is just as silly. Consider, for example, when he accuses Jazmine's mother of wearing a Klan robe in a picture of her in a graduation gown.
Far from reinforcing stereotypes, "The Boondocks" can be seen as holding them up to scrutiny and encouraging their rejection. Nor are the points taken directed at only one side of the racial divide. McGruder is an equal opportunity satirist.
If, in the process, some readers find themselves made a bit uncomfortable, then it is probably fair to conclude that the cartoonist has hit his mark.
Irony, satire and making gentle fun of human foibles are the arrows in a cartoonist's quiver, after all. To read a cartoon strip without applying these filters is to miss the point.
-- Ann Harbeson
Those critics who are "Down on `The Boondocks' " need to sharpen their critical skills. The "game" is not "given to Huey's black militancy," as letter writer A. D. Powell says. One of the points of the strip is to reveal the rigidity of stereotypes, both black and white. Huey's belief that behind every white person is a Klan member is being gently ridiculed. Not to see that is the critical equivalent of failing to see that Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" is really an attack on racism.
Huey's attitude is hardly unique. Indeed, you can open any academic journal in American literature or American studies these days and find scholarly writers who, like Huey, think that white America is little more than the KKK writ large and "Huck Finn" a truly racist book. Aging baby-boomers for the most part, these myopic academics are still personing the barricades of Birmingham, still stuck in a 30-year-old paradigm. Cartoonist McGruder is trying to nudge us all off the dime by getting us to see how outdated many of our prejudices are. More power to him.
-- David R. Williams