Scott Adams’ long-running “Dilbert” comic strip has been pulled by multiple newspapers after the cartoonist called Black Americans a “hate group” and urged white people to “get the fuck away” from Black people in a YouTube video.
On Friday, in response to Adams’ comments, Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer announced that “Dilbert” will no longer be published in the newspaper because of Adams’ “racist rant.” In the letter, Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com VP of content Chris Quinn wrote that other papers in owned by parent company Advance Local, also independently made the same decision to stop running the strip. That includes Advance Local newspapers in Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Alabama, Massachusetts and Oregon.
“This is not a difficult decision,” Quinn wrote. “We are not a home for those who espouse racism. We certainly do not want to provide them with financial support.” He added, “Until we decide what to replace ‘Dilbert’ with, you’ll likely see a gray box where it has been appearing.”
On his YouTube show on Wednesday, Feb. 22, Adams cited a survey that found nearly half of Black people do not agree with the statement, “It’s okay to be white.” The Anti-Defamation League has called the phrase a “hate symbol” popularized in late 2017 as a trolling campaign on 4chan.
“Based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to white people is to get the hell away from Black people. Just get the fuck away,” Adams said. “Wherever you have to go, just get away. Because there’s no fixing this. This can’t be fixed. So I don’t think it makes any sense as a white citizen of America to try to help Black citizens anymore. It doesn’t make sense. There’s no longer a rational impulse. So I’m going to back off on being helpful to Black America because it doesn’t seem like it pays off.”
Last fall, 77 newspapers owned by publisher Lee Enterprises dropped “Dilbert”; however, that appeared to be part of a larger move by the company to scale back comic strips.
Adams previously has claimed that some of his projects have been canceled because he is white, and he has made numerous racially-charged “jokes.” Adams in 2022 introduced the first-ever Black character to “Dilbert,” dubbed Dave the Black Engineer, whom he used to mock the idea of workplace diversity and transgender identity (“I identify as white,” Dave the Black Engineer says in one strip).
In June 2020, Adams, referring to UPN’s cancellation of the “Dilbert” animated primetime TV series two decades earlier, tweeted, “I lost my TV show for being white when UPN decided it would focus on an African American audience. That was the third job I lost for being white.” In January 2022, Adams tweeted, “I’m going to self-identify as a Black woman until Biden picks his Supreme Court nominee. I realize it’s a long shot, but I don’t want to completely take myself out of the conversation for the job.”
“Dilbert” is syndicated by Andrews McMeel Syndication (formerly Universal Uclick) since 2011. The strip is “the most photocopied, pinned-up, downloaded, faxed and e-mailed comic strip in the world,” the company claims on its website.
Adams, 65, grew up a fan of the Peanuts comics and started drawing his own comics at the age of six, according to Andrews McMeel’s bio on the cartoonist. To date, more than 40 “Dilbert” reprint books have been published, with “The Dilbert Principle” becoming a New York Times best-seller. Total book and calendar sales have topped 20 million units, according to Andrews McMeel.
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