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Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

On Jan. 29, The Gazette published a comics page featuring a number of illustrations.

One of the comic strips depicted a son with an itch and his father unable to assist him, stating in subsequent frames: “If you’re havin’ skin problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but an itch ain’t one.” The father later went on to say he could not help his son without rapping.

The intention of the cartoon was to be a word play off a Jay-Z song and was in no way intended to stereotype any member of Western’s community or in particular, imply the inability of black parents to raise their children.

After consulting with various members from the Western community, however, I have come to understand the anger the comic caused many individuals. I apologize for not taking into account the deeper implications the cartoon may have had.

Over the course of the year, I have looked over thousands of pictures, stories and illustrations to view their suitability for publication; in this instance " while not maliciously " I failed to recognize what the cartoon symbolized to some and for that I am sorry.

When thinking about the issue over the past few weeks, I believe this situation highlights a recurring complaint I have heard about The Gazette: the lack of visual minority representation on the editorial board.

I have worked at the newspaper for the better part of five years and have been one of the few visual minorities on staff. This does not mean, however, this is something that cannot be changed.

I came to the Gazette office five years ago having very limited experience in the field of journalism and over my undergraduate career had the opportunity to serve as an editor in three different sections and was elected as the paper’s Editor-in-Chief this year.

Never in this period of time did I believe I was held back or not welcome based on my ethnicity and I have been fortunate to contribute some of the changes I wanted to see in the paper when I first arrived.

This experience does not have to be unique, however.

The editorial board has worked hard this year to be more visible in the community with our recruiting efforts and I know next year’s staff will build on these initiatives.

If you were upset by the cartoon, or in general believe the paper does not do enough to address issues involving visual minorities on campus, I ask that you not to shun the paper entirely.

Rather, I believe it is worthwhile to take the initiative to get involved next year; be it as a more active reader, by writing letters and most importantly, by volunteering for the paper. The staff at The Gazette has worked hard to broaden the scope of campus events we cover over the past few years; these endeavours will only improve with further input from a larger number of students.

Like any publication, there is a progression system associated with getting involved at The Gazette, but it is one that enables any individual to advance based on merit. We recognize the paper cannot improve without volunteers and are willing to help any individual who shows an interest in getting involved.

The Gazette strives to be a paper that reflects the student population at Western, but to achieve this it requires active participation from students. We will continue to work towards this goal, and it will be the most effective with the help of a diverse array of student volunteers.

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