Jerry Holbert is sorry—really, really sorry.
The cartoon he drew for yesterday’s Boston Herald—in which a white intruder startles President Obama in the White House bathroom by asking, from the bathtub, “Have you tried the watermelon-flavored toothpaste?’’—spurred a firestorm of criticism on social media users.
Holbert told Boston.com this was not his intent.
“I’ve worked at the Herald for 28 years, once in a while you make mistakes. Unfortunately, this one had to do with racism and that upsets me. I cannot stand racism in any form or any fashion. To have stepped into that area is really upsetting to me.’’
The Herald quickly issued an apology yesterday, stating that the cartoon “offended some people and to them we apologize.’’ The paper stood by Holbert, calling him “a veteran cartoonist with the utmost integrity.’’
Holbert, a Herald cartoonist since 1986, said that he didn’t realize the cartoon was racist until the backlash began, even though the comic sundicate Universal Uclick asked him to change the toothpaste flavor to raspberry.
“I really didn’t understand why I needed to change it,’’ he said, “but they were right, and I should’ve followed through with the Herald version, but I didn’t, and that was very, very stupid on my part.’’
A day after the cartoon was published, Holbert is full of regrets: “It turns out it was a bad idea. I really regret it after seeing that it hurt and upset people. That was not my intent at all; it was certainly not my intent to be racist.’’
In the future, Holbert says, he’ll be more careful. “I didn’t take into account other people’s hurts. That’s what I’ll do from now on.’’