Unite member challenges racist cartoon

12 Jun

The following letter to the editor of the Marlborough Express was written by Turi Taurima, a Unite member at KFC Kent Tce. The Express failed to publish it but we think it deserves publication.

Dear Editor

I refer to your ‘apology’ with regard to the cartoon published in Wednesday’s Express. Although, disappointed by your decision to use your discretion to publish the offensive cartoon, I am left even more disappointed by your apparent ‘apology’. You fail to acknowledge that the cartoon’s blatant portrayal of harmful and ignorant stereotypes of Māori and Pasifika communities does nothing but encourage hostile views against these communities.

Your apology validates the views that are exemplified in the cartoon. You use your apology to identify the ‘positive’ of provoking discussion and hope that the discussion “continues on why there are children in the country going to school hungry.” Explicit in the cartoon is that Māori and Pasifika drink and smoke money away which in turn results in no money left to feed their children. You have validated this message as a legitimate discussion point when it comes to child poverty.

You are in a privileged position where you get to provide information to your public on newsworthy items. In this instance you have chosen to abuse that privilege by taking the very real issue of child poverty and framing it in a way that encourages the public to view all Māori and Pasifika families as being responsible for that. This lacks any kind of “Insight” as the title of the cartoon claims to depict.

Yes Māori and Pasifika people are disproportionately represented in New Zealand’s lower socio-economic statistics, unemployment rates and incarceration. Perhaps you could provide a rational and evidential article to your public to encourage discussion on why that might be instead. Or her perhaps you could publish one of the multitude of stories that highlight some of the many positives for Māori and Pasifika

Your apology indicates that you yourself may agree with the messages depicted in the cartoon. It concerns me that someone in your position, who has such discretionary power on how to inform the public, appears to be sympathetic towards the ignorant message in the cartoon.

Unfortunately you have also drawn discussion away from the 270 000 children living in poverty in our country. I hope you take this opportunity to reflect on your privilege and your views. I would encourage you to read the Child Poverty Action Group’s 2012 report which provides evidence based and realistic solutions to child poverty.

If you choose to read the report I hope then that you will use your privilege as part of a free and independent press body, to provide a reasoned critique to government policy on the issue instead of a sensationalist and harmful piece of publication. But I also hope that this will shape your approach when it comes to future publications on any issues.

Regards

Turi Taurima

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One Response to “Unite member challenges racist cartoon”

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  1. Unite member challenges racist cartoon « The Daily Blog - June 12, 2013

    […] 12 Jun […]

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