October 27, 2015
Dear Campus Community,
On Tuesday, The Daily Illini published a syndicated cartoon about Halloween depicting someone in a “costume” climbing over a fence that reads “I’m going as an illegal immigrant!” Our students, alumni, staff, and families immediately raised their voices against such an offensive graphic. Later an apology was published by The Daily Illini. However, the issue here is not the limited time to review what was going to be published, or that it was a last minute addition to the newspaper. The issue is that an artist, a wire service, and newspaper staff all at some point thought that a cartoon denigrating human beings who have sacrificed so much for a better life and for more opportunities could be seen as funny. It is not funny at all. It is offensive, tasteless, and above all, racist.
This cartoon depicts not only ignorance but lack of understanding about basic human rights. We have failed somehow to recognize that the more than 11 million undocumented people who are in this country have left everything they have—their families, their belongings, their country, their pride in many instances—to find a better life for their families and themselves. Today is another day in which an institution of power, in this case the media, offends an underrepresented group on campus, our DREAMers. These students, who were brought to this country as children, strive every single day to prove that they also have the right to be here. They have demonstrated that even without any federal or state financial aid, they are making it, they are achieving, and we are proud of them. Today, we stand with them, their friends, their families, and their allies to voice our anger and frustration. This is unacceptable, and an apology does not take away the hurt this has caused to them and to us.
Dr. Gioconda Guerra Perez
La Casa Cultural Latina
Dr. David Chih
Asian American Cultural Center
LGBT Resource Center
Diversity & Social Justice Education
Native American House
Women’s Resources Center
Dr. Gigi Secuban
Interim Director, Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center
Director, Office of Inclusion & Intercultural Relations
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs