On Tuesday, some newspapers pulled down an installment of “Six Chix,” which tackled the anti-mask rhetoric while raising awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement’s call for social justice.
Six Chix was founded in 2000, and features a rotating cast of female creators, including Bianca Xunise, who created the controversial issue last week. Xunise is the first black woman on the team, and the second black woman nationally syndicated in comics’ history.
The controversial comic showed a Black woman at a grocery store wearing a face mask and a shirt that read “I Can’t Breathe” — an ode to George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis officers.
Next to her, a blue-eyed, older white woman states: “If you can’t breathe, then take that silly mask off!”
Tea Fougner, the editorial director at King Features, the comic’s syndicate, stated that angry responses to the piece led to some newspapers dropping “Six Chix” from their publication entirely.
Fougner added that one newspaper issued an apology in the comic’s usual spot later that week.
“We have notified the syndicate that provides the comic that we will no longer be running Six Chix in our newspaper as a result,” the apology read. “We’ve also requested an apology from them. Our apologies for a cartoon that reflected the exact opposite of what we stand for as a newspaper.”
However, Fougner, Xunise, and other team members at Six Chix defended the strip.
“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.”
Isabella Bannerman, the Monday cartoonist for “Six Chix,” defended the comic, and stated that it was an “important dialogue” bridging both issues.
“I am not apologizing for this comic and this censorship,” Xunise said, explaining that there was no misunderstanding behind the message of her comic strip.
“I am being silenced over white feelings from a gag comic,” she said. “This is a complete step back in the wrong direction.”
“The editors at whatever newspaper it lands at should’ve read the comics and flagged it if they got offended,” she added. “I’m just an artist; that’s your job.”
Xunise stated that the team responded to each newspaper’s concerns, and that the ones who dropped the comic were still upset even after they were given an explanation.
“We spent due diligence explaining the ‘hard to grasp’ satire,” Xunise said. “Please stop giving the benefit of the doubt to people who silence Black voices.”
Sources: America Now