Several things jumped out at me throughout the reading of the graphics section of Humor Me. And possibly the most prevalent among them was the (occasional) sense of the absurd that ran through the comics, used to sometimes gloss over a very weighty meaning. The first comic, for example, focuses in on an African American man who is on the phone. The caption, that “I’m wearing a corsage so you’ll know me.”, carries at first a sense of ridiculous humor. Of all the reasons for this man, from the images the only non-white man in the room, to be immediately recognizable, a corsage is not the first on the list. Underneath this apparent absurdity is an accusation, however. The deep accusation that the only way an African American can get into this sort of gathering is still in the position of a ‘servant’ one of the caterer’s employees or something similar to that, as opposed to being one of the corsage-wearing guests.
A similar implication, with far less subtlety involved, comes with the image of a man jumping onto a firefighter safety net. The man, again African American, is shortly to be surrounded by for men in the white hoods of the Ku Klux Klan. The accusation of preferential treatment by firefighters, and extension police and medical personnel, for white folks in comparison to those of color is potent.
In a more relaxed setting, a white psychologist meets with an African American man. The comic draws immediate tension between image and caption, as the psychologist rests his feet upon his patient, while question why he believes that he gets no respect from those around him. The parallel here is deep and powerful, as the calls for respect and truly equal action from the African American population still go unheeded, as portions of the city that have African Americans as the majority of their citizens often go underfunded and cared for in comparison. Yet when the accusation is made, it is often smoothly deflected or ignored by the ‘powers that be’, even as the situation is made worse, (such as when the psychologist asks why he believes he gets no respect, while he contributes to this belief by using his client as an hassock.