AP, June 30, 2005
U.S. activists called on the Mexican government to withdraw a postage stamp depicting an exaggerated black cartoon character known as Memin Pinguin, saying the offense was worse than recent remarks about blacks made by President Vicente Fox.
Mexico defended the series of five stamps released Wednesday, which depicts a child character from a comic book started in the 1940s that is still published in Mexico.
But the Rev. Jesse Jackson said President Bush should pressure Mexico to withdraw the stamps from the market, saying they “insult people around the world.”
“The impact of this is worse than what the president said,” Jackson noted, referring to Fox’s May 13 comment that Mexican migrants take jobs in the United States that “not even blacks” want. Fox later met with Jackson and expressed regret but insisted his comments had been misinterpreted.
On Thursday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan objected to the stamp, saying “racial stereotypes are offensive no matter what their origin” and have no place in today’s world. He added that it was “an internal issue for Mexico and the postal authorities that issued the stamp.”
The character on the stamp is drawn with exaggerated features, thick lips and wide-open eyes. His appearance, speech and mannerisms are the subject of kidding by white characters in the comic book.
The NAACP — the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — called the stamps “injurious to black people who live in the United States and Mexico.”
Jackson also said Mexico should “issue a complete and full apology.”
Activists in Mexico said the stamp was offensive but not unexpected.
“One would hope the Mexican government would be a little more careful and avoid continually opening wounds,” said Sergio Penalosa, an activist in Mexico’s small black community on the southern Pacific coast.