Bianca Xunise is a nationally syndicated cartoonist – the second Black woman in US history to be able to claim that – and co-authors the strip Six Chix, distributed by King Features. Six Chix is created by six women cartoonists who each draw a day of the week and then rotate the Sunday strips. Isabella Bannerman draws Mondays; Bianca Xunise draws Tuesdays; Susan Camilleri Konar draws Wednesdays; Mary Lawton draws Thursdays; Maritsa Patrinos draws Fridays; and Stephanie Piro draws Saturdays. But as a result of some bizarre complaints about Bianca's strip last Tuesday, a number of outlets have stopped carrying the strip entirely. Her gag that was published on July 28th commented on Black Lives Matter and coronavirus mask concerns simultaneously.
The cartoon showed two women shopping, one is Black, wearing a facemask with a shirt that says "I can't breathe," while the white woman, without a mask says to her "If you can't breathe, then take that silly mask off!" That was enough for some of the newspapers that run Six Chix to cancel the strip.
Xunise took to Twitter to talk about the cartoon and the reaction to it. She tweeted out "Ok now to explain this comic because everyone has been getting it wrong. It's easy to assume that the white woman talking to me is a racist, that may or may not be true but that is not the point. The point is how white people see issues that affect black peoples as trivial. The whole mask debate has been compared to oppression which I find incredibly offensive. The fact that white people want to claim oppression now for having to do their civic duty of protecting others is not the black struggle whatsoever. Yet people have assumed for generations that racism is simply about our sensitivity & not a systemic issue. Furthermore I want this comic to challenge liberal whites who assume that every white person they feel superior over is racist. This is just a random white woman, idk her."
"I am the second black woman to be nationally syndicated in comics history and I am being silenced over white feelings from a gag comic. This is a complete step back in the wrong direction. To be clear there was no misunderstanding of the message of my comic. We spent due diligence explaining the "hard to grasp" satire. They are standing against exactly what you think they are. Please stop giving the benefit of the doubt to people who silence black voices. Once again if you enjoyed this comic and would like to support me and my work I have a list of ways here from downloadable comics about the black experience to my venmo tip jar. Support black creators!"
Tea Fougner, editorial director of comics at King Features, told NBC News "Bianca created the July 28, 2020, Six Chix cartoon to be a joke commenting on how Black issues are often disregarded as a personal problem and not a systemic issue. She is shedding light on two pandemics right now: one on race and another on COVID-19, and both are not being taken seriously while they are destroying lives."
The editors of one publication apologized to its readers, stating "Tuesday's edition included a Six Chic comic that was inappropriate and offensive. We have notified the syndicate that provides the comic that we will no longer be running Six Chix in our newspaper as a result. We've also requested an apology from them. Our apologies for a cartoon that reflected the exact opposite of what we stand for as a newspaper."
Xunise told NBC "I am not apologizing for this comic and this censorship. I am being silenced over white feelings from a gag comic. This is a complete step back in the wrong direction." More of Bianca Xunise's work can be found here, and the Six Chicks strip here. Her most recent cartoon was published yesterday.