U. of Florida Student Paper in Hot Water over Kanye West Toon

The Gainesville Sun reports that the Alligator, the student newspaper of the University of Florida, has come under fire for a cartoon featuring rapper Kanye West and Condoleezza Rice. West stated during a nationally televised telethon that Bush doesn't care about black people.

"Andy Marlette's cartoon shows black rapper Kanye West, who two weeks ago said President George W. Bush doesn't care about black people at a fund-raiser for Hurricane Katrina victims, holding a playing card labeled 'The Race Card' while standing next to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The bubble over Rice's head contains the words: 'Nigga Please!'

The vice president of student affairs attacked the cartoon: "The symbolisms utilized were hurtful and inappropriate; and regardless of their original intent, reinforced negative stereotypes of individuals in the community."

The Dean of Students also denounced the cartoon, but went even further: He joined in on the 40 students, mostly black, who held a protest outside the offices of the paper.

"We respect the freedom of the press, but there's responsibility that comes with it," the dean said. "The Alligator needs to know this did hurt and affect a lot of people - and this (protest) will send them that message."

Even the president of the university joined in, writing in a letter to the paper:

"My reaction is shared by the many UF students and faculty members who contacted me last week.

"We were disgusted by the image and discouraged that such an insensitive cartoon could be published in a newspaper that, while independent from the university, is written and edited by UF students."

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