3.2.14

Who's afraid of the black man?


Scrolling through the Helsingin Sanomat’s Sunnuntai supplement an enormous caricature immediately catches your eye - as it’s meant to. A sketch of a masked African rebel, gun under one arm, face obscured, clad in bandana and plastic flip-flops and standing on an outline of Africa.

This sketch isn’t intended to be humorous –the African’s eyes glare menacingly out at the reader. 

This image of a black man standing on the African continent takes up nearly half a page. It’s meant to represent the population of Africa and is the size of the other three caricatures that represent other geographical areas put together.

This image is made worse by its contrast with the other three continents – a suited gentleman for Europe, an old man for China, and a fairly offensive but relatively benign Latino for the United states.

This cartoon of the African and the way it’s displayed on the page reeks of fear of the black man. Once again Africans are represented as murderous thugs, while the rest of the world is allegedly civil and safe.

Absurd, erroneous, insulting - all in a two-page spread.

Paranoia? Hardly. The by-line tells us that there will be four billion Africans by 2100 and this, according to the article, is an ominous threat. Nigerians are used as an example. As the rest of the world becomes old and frail, Nigerians will be young, violent and corrupt and will number 900 million. Any hint of racism in the writer’s speculation about population growth is amplified by the way it’s presented on the page.

Finland’s leading newspaper should know better. The depiction of Africans in the media is an issue that has been thrashed to the point that it should be dead. “Too many, too old,” the article is headlined and frankly these depictions of Africans as either killer rebels or starving children are too many and this discussion too old.