For many, “Peanuts” cartoons bring back great childhood memories.
Adults and children alike can recognize the cast of characters — Linus, Snoopy, Lucy and more — as well as holiday specials that feature iconic stories like the “Great Pumpkin.”
But is “Charlie Brown” also racist? A scene out of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” has some believing so.
The controversy stemmed from a scene where Charlie and his friends are seated at a friendsgiving-style dinner, complete with junk food galore.
On one side of the table are Charlie, Snoopy and two other friends — both of whom are white. On the other side is Franklin, the only African-American child in attendance. He is shown as the only child seated on that side of the table; he is also the only child sitting in a folding chair instead of one made of sturdier material.
The scene was re-discovered by Twitter over the holiday, when some users took offense to the fact that Franklin — the only black child — was sitting alone, and in a folding chair no less.
While some were shocked that they did not realize the seating arrangements in childhood, others went so far as to call for a boycott of the holiday special until other children were seated on Franklin’s side of the table, according to The Kansas City Star.
No matter the reaction, Twitter was ablaze with discussion over the scene and whether it is racist.
However, a quick look into the history of Franklin’s character may reveal more information.
Fact-checking site Snopes denied that the Peanuts creator’s decision to put Franklin on a side by himself had anything to do with racism.
Creator Charles Schulz added Franklin in 1968 to encourage racial integration, according to Snopes. Although it was suggested to him that Franklin could be added as a background character, he was actually introduced as one of Charlie’s full-fledged friends.
The debate over this cartoon’s qualities is troubling. Although diversity is something America should be seriously striving for, it seems to be a gross exaggeration to label this scene as discrimination.
By labeling the special as such, Americans are delegitimizing a systemic issue in society.
We acknowledge that more could have been done in 1960s pop culture to encourage integration. But considering that this was during the civil rights movement, it is impressive that a black character had a semi-prominent role in a nationally-syndicated comic.
Racism continues to be one of the most prominent issues in society, but it does not exist everywhere you look. There is not racism in every interaction between a white person and a person of color. Saying that there is only causes people to become weary of the racism discussion, instead of invigorated to create change.
Defeating the oppression that still exists in the U.S. means beginning rational, educated discussions with people of all groups. But choosing to ignore Schulz’s advocacy work and jump down the throat of anyone who enjoys the “Peanuts” cartoon series is just as ignorant as someone who chooses to oppress people of color in the first place.
Keep pushing for tolerance, but do not let blinders push you toward intolerance and ignorance on the other side of the spectrum.