white noise

by Eric Ginsburg


People throughout the county are talking about Geof Brooks’ cartoon in the June 23 issue of the The Rhinoceros Times, and most of them are upset. The cartoon, which took up almost half a page in full color, appeared near the back of the issue but accompanied a front-page article on electronic house arrest. The cartoon depicts two black males, speaking in improper English, complaining that they were being kept at home just as the new jail is completed “wit… cable.”

The flurry of responses was generated in large part by a post on

Editor John Hammer issued an apology, available on their website homepage, claiming it was a coloring error and the two men were supposed to be white.

“We regret the error and offer sincere apologies to everyone who is offended by the cartoon,” Hammer wrote.

A lengthy debate ensued online, with some arguing that Brooks often depicts whites much differently and given that it was on the Guilford County jail, saying the claim it was supposed to be Italian mobsters was hard to believe.

The cartoon appears to be a tipping point, as people are calling for a campaign against the Rhino because they say the cartoon reflects a pattern of espousing racism or whitewashing race relations in the city. A Facebook page urging people to call the Rhino’s advertisers in protest quickly gained 150 attendees. Commenters on the page express longstanding grievances with the paper, one saying they “have hated this paper since the cradle” and another saying, “Don’t even call it a newspaper.”

The page includes other cartoons by Brooks that appeared in past issues, which organizers say shows a pattern of denying the existence racism, particularly in the police department.

Now a new blog has been created, with more information and detailed explanations of why some residents are challenging the Rhino.