Letters to the Editor: Concerning Vol. 127 Issue 16

Ikram Osman, Clare Pledl, and Rikka Bakken

Dear Oracle Staff,

I am sending you all this email out of frustration, confusion and disappointment as I look at the cover picture of the April 6 Oracle. I’m appalled that the cartoon drawing of President Miller passed through all of you and wasn’t stopped at any point. This depiction of President Miller isn’t only offensive, but racist and very disrespectful. This picture isn’t a representation of President Miller in any way but looks like the caricature of mammy/Aunt Jamima that has been used in history to stereotype black women as fat, undesirable and ugly. I have attached pictures of both the cartoon drawing and pictures so you all can see the similarities in how this picture plays into the constant stereotypes that are thrown at black women. Something I wouldn’t expect from the Oracle.

This picture gives President Miller over exaggerated features on her face and on the rest of her body as her features are oversexualized. Her skin color isn’t a depiction of her actual skin color as it is a lot darker. There is no way that two skin tones were found for the other two white individuals in the picture but that color was the only color found and used for President Miller.

As a black woman that attends this university, I am offended and taken aback by this picture and every time I think about it I wonder how? How was this picture approved by the Oracle’s editors? Why wasn’t this picture given a more in depth consideration? Why was President Miller depicted in this way?

I would love some answers to these question or at least an explanation on how this happened. I will be waiting.

Thank you,
Ikram Osman

To whom it may concern,

I, along with several other students, were incredibly disappointed and disgusted by a drawing run on the cover of the aforementioned issue of The Oracle. The article titled “Hamline’s Deficit Will Affect Classes Next Fall” included a depiction of President Miller that harkened to the days of pickaninnies and horrible racist images of African Americans. President Miller is visibly angry, with dark skin and bright red lipstick. She has large, bubbly breasts, high cheekbones that are almost monkey like and a terrifying expression. The other two figures, who are white, are looking to her, almost to appease her or calm her down. They appear to be normal, average humans.

I personally was disturbed by this image, if for nothing but the fact that no one on your staff noticed the terrifying resemblance to racial caricatures of the 19th and 20th century. I am offended at Amber Osmonson’s depiction of President Miller, and if I was Fayneese Miller, I would be incredibly offended that this is how the student body sees her.

I don’t expect much from the Oracle, but I truly expected better than this. I hope there will be an apology issued for this blatant piece of racism by Amber and oversight by members of the Oracle staff.

Most sincerely yours,
Clare Pledl


Good Evening Clare,

I am sorry to hear that our recent illustration and depiction of President Miller offended you so much. Please feel free to pass this response along to anyone who feels the same way you do, and let them know that if they wish to speak to me about any concerns they have about the content of the Oracle they should feel free to email me or stop by our office (DSC 106).

First off, I can assure you it was not our intention for President Miller’s skin to be so dark in the illustration. Occasionally, there is a discrepancy between the colors that appear on our screens when we put the paper together and what the final printed product ends up being. In this case, we did not properly account for the color change, and as a result President Miller’s skin was, I whole-heartedly agree, ridiculously dark against her red lips. Again, the color of her skin in the final printed material was not intended by either myself or the illustrator.


Your comment stating that you “don’t expect much from the Oracle” concerns me. If there are other concerns you have about our publication, I hope you will share them with me. Thank you for contacting us on this matter.


Have a lovely evening!

Rikka Bakken
Editor-in-Chief, The Oracle


Hi Rikka (and all),

I appreciate your response, however I do feel the need to explain where I am coming from. Racial caricatures stem back to colonial times in American history. They have been used as oppressive images to enforce stereotypes. One stereotype that is particularly relevant here is that of Sapphire. Sapphire is the stereotype often associated with the angry black woman. Sapphire is domineering, masculine and incapable of compassion.

The depiction of President Fayneese Miller is remarkably similar to racist imagery from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. I have included some examples that I found especially pertinent. They show remarkable resemblance to the depiction of President Miller, with the higher, rounded cheekbones and the brightly colored lips. Needless to say, this imagery is incredibly hurtful to people of color for a variety of reasons.


I understand that caricatures are meant to be cartoonish representations of human beings, however I think most people can agree that the cartoon in question actually bears very small similarity to our esteemed President.

I understand that this image did not have negative or racially driven intentions, however I believe that an apology of sorts is necessary to the Hamline Community. Many students were bothered and ashamed to see this image on the cover of the student paper at our social justice-minded institution.

Thank you for your time,
Clare Pledl