Political cartoons are not always meant to make readers laugh. Sometimes cartoonists have to cover issues that are especially serious, such as war, famine, injustice and even death.
This week was one such occasion when George Floyd, an African-American man was killed while being arrested by police in Minneapolis in the US.
It sparked widespread protests, rioting, looting* and the destruction of property. The world looked on in disbelief at what was happening in major cities such as New York and Washington. Riot police and the National Guard were sent to try and contain the rioters and stop the looters.
African-American citizens were dismayed* that another of their kin* had died at the hands of police. The Black Lives Matter campaign had fought for many years to bring justice for black Americans harshly dealt with by racist people within law enforcement organisations across the US.
It looked like George Floyd’s death was the tipping point. Also, it came on top of coronavirus deaths of more than 100,000 people, lockdowns, job losses and an economy in recession*.
In these times the community looks to its leaders for strong leadership.
President Trump was under pressure when he decided that he should show that he had things under control and decided to take a walk to a church across the road from the White House.
The White House was surrounded by protesters so riot police were sent to move them out of the President’s way so he could freely cross the road to stand in front of the church, hold up a bible and declare in front of the cameras that America was a great country.
He wanted to show that he was still in charge and could freely go where he wanted.
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I had drawn several cartoons on George Floyd’s murder this week, but the amazing images of crowds of protesters being moved aside was an opportunity too good to pass up.
One of the great fables* of Christianity is the story of Moses, who led his people to freedom from the persecuting* Egyptian army. In a miracle, the waters of the Red Sea were parted by God and Moses led the Israelites to safety.
I saw similarities between that story and President Trump’s parting of the protesters so he could make his way to his church.
I drew the President calmly crossing the street. He is walking like it’s a Sunday stroll. But there is a circle of riot police around him holding back the tide of people protesting.
There is a lot of drawing in this cartoon. The drawing has to work as an example in contrast, the calm President walking, and then the maelstrom* of activity around him, of which he seems unaware.
It is a juxtaposition: two opposing things placed together in contrast for effect.
The cartoon is also symbolic of America, a nation of complete contrasts now on display.
- looting: stealing
- dismayed: cause someone to feel upset or distress
- kin: family and other people you feel a close connection with
- recession: period of economic decline
- fables: stories to teach a moral lesson
- persecuting: treat with hostility, especially because of race or beliefs
- maelstrom: violence or upheaval
- What job does Donald Trump do?
- What does the cartoon show?
- Who is the cartoonist?
- What do you most like or dislike about this cartoon?
- What would you change if you were drawing this cartoon?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. What Happens Before or Next?
Imagine that this cartoon is part of a story that is made up of three cartoons. The three cartoons tell a complete story, and Mark’s cartoon is either the start, the middle or the end of the story. Think about what the story could be and draw the other two cartoons that tell the complete story.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts, Visual Communication Design, Critical and Creative Thinking
‘To be a great cartoonist, being able to draw is only one of the skills that you need.’
Write a list of all of the other skills that you think cartoonists like Mark need to do their job. Next to each skill, write a sentence that explains why that skill is important or helps them to do a great job
Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability, Media Arts, Visual Communication Design
Stretch your sentence
Find a ‘who’ in the cartoon. A person or animal.
Write it down.
Add 3 adjectives to describe them better.
Now add a verb to your list. What are they doing?
Add an adverb about how they are doing the action.
Using all the words listed, create one descriptive sentence.
HAVE YOUR SAY: What do you think of President Trump’s actions in this scene?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.