"Keepin It Real" and/or "Sellin Out to the Man": African-American Responses to Aaron McGruders The Boondocks
Introduction In Apr i l 1999 a comic strip appeared that drew immediate and tremendous media attention (Hornblower 1999; Sanford 1999). The Boondocks, created by African-American cartoonist Aaron McGruder, predominantly features African-American characters and provides an uninhibited critique of African-American life in the suburbs. The Boondocks represents various aspects of hip-hop culture and Japanese manga-style art, and candidly discusses racial issues, including tokenism, biracial identity, educational curriculum bias, stereotyping, racial profiling, U.S. census representation issues, and criticisms of various African-American politicians, entertainers, and sports heroes. McGruder's comic strip enjoyed one of the biggest launches in comics history-just two months after its national debut it appeared in newspapers in close to two hundred U.S. cities (Hornblower 1999). The attention that the strip has generated since its initial appearance has propelled it to the status of a cultural icon. Almost immediately, most newspapers received a large volume of comments from their readers regarding The Boondocks, prompting different responses from editors. Some
The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of Ashley Macha, who served as an extraordinary research assistant for this project.