Though it's painfully difficult to comprehend, a major newspaper in the year 2015 recently published an article with the headline "N*****, Are You Crazy?" alongside imagery that's essentially just glorified blackface. Even more difficult to comprehend is the fact that, upon the relatively immediate controversy prompted by the unveiling of this editorial nightmare, the publication avoided the usual process of backpedaling in the form of a genuine apology (and some obviously necessary internal restructuring), instead choosing to essentially double down on their racist projection by pointing a finger at the offended for being "rather stupid."
Yes, the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsbad actually published the following compilation of critiques on race-exploring books:
Asserting that racism is "not their cup of tea," editor Michel Krielaars released a post-controversy statement that barely passes as any sort of apology, but certainly passes as deeply baffling:
The article by our Washington correspondent Guus Valk in the weekly Book Supplement of NRC Handelsblad was a review of three books about race relations in the United States: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, and Mat Johnson’s Loving Day. It dealt with the persistence of racism and the continuing inequality in the US. The tone of the article is pessimistic, and the illustrations, as well as the headline, were meant to reflect that. There is no racist remark to be read in the review, because that is not our cup of tea.
Elsewhere in his email exchange with various outlets, Krielaars offered the theory that those offended by NRC's editorial decision might simply be too uneducated to understand or even detect its subtleties:
The drawings are a literal illustrations of ‘stereotype’ and ‘white’ aggression, the above mentioned books are dealing with. They are ugly, unkind, and offensive – and they are meant to be, because they cover the content of the reviewed books. Of course, they were not intended to offend. Actually, it is rather stupid to think so.
As noted by others, the piece's visual accompaniment is quite reminiscent of Zwarte Piet, an infamously racist Dutch holiday tradition (see photo above) with an unfortunate penchant for full-on blackface.