A picture’s worth a thousand words, but which words a picture is worth will always depend on interpretation. Viewpoints vary from person to person, sometimes with humorous results. Sometimes hurtful results.
I am sorry for the confusion. I am sorry for the distress the image caused. I am most sorry for the controversy and stress that has come to my friend, Dr. Steven Moore. Not only am I sorry, I apologize. I apologize on my behalf and also on the behalf of the editors.
I’ve met with Dr. Moore, and I have expressed all of this to him.
It may serve some reparative purpose to share my personal intent for the work. I hope most will be comforted in knowing the work had no malicious intent. Though it is now difficult to see the cartoon as anything other than racially charged, two weeks ago, in the eyes the Optimist Editorial Board, the picture was seen as merely humorous. Innocently humorous.
In Chapel, the previous Friday, Jarrett Ward led the singing. The usual unimaginatives shouted out for “Highways and Byways,” the signature song of Dr. Moore.
Wouldn’t it be funny if Ward somehow transformed into Moore and began singing that famous spiritual? Yes it would, if that situation was presented clearly.
Obviously it wasn’t clear; I’ll try to make it so now. In the image, Steven is in a Jarrett mask. Steven is not in the proverbial “white mask.” When the Office of Multicultural Enrichment showed me their interpretation, it was perfectly clear to me.
The connotations of the mask hadn’t crossed my mind. When I saw them, it stung. It sure looked like I directed a hurtful and pointless attack on one of our professors. That’s a legitimate concern.
It’s a shame I was the last to know about this. I was out of the loop for a week. Not all, but some of you knew me personally. I saw some of you during the week; we could have talked. We can do better next time.