I am writing in regard the editorial cartoon that appeared in the Aug. 8-14, 2012, issue of the Jackson Free Press, which depicted Hinds County Supervisor Kenneth Stokes' effort to regulate saggy pants. While I understand the cartoon was intended to poke fun at Stokes' attempt to better our region's youth, it took an unfair swipe at Jackson State University students.
The young man in the saggy pants featured in the cartoon was wearing a baseball hat bearing the name "Tigers"—which is the name of the sports teams at Jackson State University and at Jackson's Jim Hill High School. As a proud graduate of Jackson State University, I am offended by this caricature of a young black man, whom most readers will associate as a JSU student.
If the cartoonist spent some time on the Jackson State University campus, he would likely see hundreds of neatly dressed, intelligent young men who look nothing like the youth depicted in the cartoon. Like other students at our metro-area colleges and universities, Jackson State students are aspiring young professionals who are preparing to become engineers, teachers, doctors, judges, musicians and artists. If a local team name was needed to put on the young man's cap, I wonder if the cartoonist considered the Majors, the Blazers or the Choctaws—which represent Millsaps, Belhaven and Mississippi College respectively. My guess is probably not.
It's unfortunate that one of our hometown papers is not only perpetuating a stereotype of young black men, but is trying that stereotype to students at the city's only historically black university.
Editor responds: While we regret that Mike Day's use of a generic Tigers cap offended some JSU alumni, it was not meant to refer to JSU or any other specific institution as we said in last week's editorial . The JFP supports JSU and appreciates concerns about perceptions, but the greater danger is assuming that a teen in baggy pants reflects poorly on any school or on the young person himself. We urge everyone to reject these stereotypes about kids.