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article imageWal-Mart Pulls Racist Mexican Comic Book From Its Shelves

By Nikki Weingartner     Jul 9, 2008 in Lifestyle
The virtuous discount retail behemoth has decided to pull from its repertoire of comic books a popular Latino favourite because the comic portrays a monkey as a "negro", according to some activists. Memin Pinguin is said to be a Cuban character.
Wal-mart issued a statement today saying they would be pulling Memin Pinguin from its shelves immediately based upon a customer complaint, according to a Houston news report.
“Wal-Mart carries a wide array of products that reflect the wants and needs of Hispanic customers. And we understand that Memin is a popular figure in Mexico. However, given the sensitivity to the negative image Memin can portray to some, we felt that it was best to no longer carry the item in our stores. We apologize to those customers who may have been offended by the book’s images,”
The 1960's comic is very popular in Mexico and Latin America, selling millions of copies. It portrays a Cuban monkey that some say resemble a black man.
In one news report, a woman who found a copy amongst children's comic books was offended by the content of Memin Pinguin, calling it an insult:
“They are calling him names. They call him an animal in one section. His mom is spanking his butt and it looks like they are drowning him,” said McGinty, who went so far as to buy a Spanish to English dictionary to better understand what was being said in the serial.
She found one passage particularly offensive. In the frame, Memin Pinguin is being kicked by a light-skinned man and is called “a black troublemaker.”
“To me it was an insult. Then I saw the cover of this one and thought, (was it) against (presidential contender Barack) Obama or what?”
Is her opinion of the book just a sensitive view or one shared by others? According to activist Quanell X, who says “This is poking fun at the physical features of an entire people. Making them look buffoonish (and) portraying the young (black) kid as stupid. Whenever they are beating him, they are referring to him as Negro. Even here when he is being punched, slapped (he is called) Negro. This is a disgrace.”, the racism is evident.
Memin is no stranger to US controversy. Back in 2005, the Mexican Government issued a commemorative stamp in honour of Memin but US activests called the character racist spawning Mexican protests.
Many Mexicans refer to dark skinned individuals, in this case the little cuban monkey, as "negritos" or little black people.
For now, Wal-mart will stock one less culturally diverse comic book, and will continue to not include those titles found on Still available are those involving race care drivers and super-buff white super heroes, although the speedo wearing rock dude never seemed to pass as Caucasian.
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