Posters Parodying Advocacy Magazine Prompt Controversy

Posters that parodied a new campus arts and advocacy magazine that focuses on issues of race and diversity prompted criticism from students and administrators in Pforzheimer House this past weekend.

Last week, a group of undergraduates started the online magazine Renegade in an effort to showcase the writing and artwork of students of color. The group advertised its website by putting up posters around campus leading up to its official launch on Friday.

On Friday night, the day of the formal launch, Black Students Association President Sarah F. Cole ’16 emailed a photo of a Renegade poster that had been ripped in half over Pfoho’s House list, prompting responses from other students. One response included a photo of three posters that appeared to mock the magazine.

Official Renegade posters in Pfoho had white backgrounds with black text containing phrases about race and diversity, such as “because Mather owned slaves,” according to a statement on behalf of the group from Jenny A. Gathright ’16, a former Crimson editorial writer. The apparent parody posters, however, were black with white text and included the messages “because all straight white men are racist” and “because anyone that disagrees with me is racist.” The posters included the url of the magazine’s website and its launch date.

In her statement on behalf of Renegade, Gathright confirmed that “[a]ny other posters in Pfoho imitating the style and font of Renegade were not produced by or endorsed by Renegade.”

“These posters were put up by people outside of Renegade, presumably with the intention of mischaracterizing our mission and reducing the work we are trying to do on this campus,” Gathright’s statement said on behalf of the group.

“The production and distribution of these fake posters is an immature and unacceptable attack on students of color in Pfoho and across this campus who have come together to speak their truths,” the statement read.

Pforzheimer House Masters Anne Harrington ’82 and John R. Durant reacted to the incident in an email to Pforzheimer residents on Saturday, writing that a Renegade magazine poster had been ripped in half the previous night and that they were “far more troubled” by “parodic” posters that had surfaced in the House.

“Whatever the intent behind these posters, their effect has been to potentially mislead our community about Renegade, and to personally hurt and undermine some members of that group who live here in Pfoho. That is absolutely unacceptable, and we intend to take those posters down immediately,” Harrington and Durant wrote.

Harrington and Durant could not be reached for further comment. Several members of Renegade did not respond to or declined requests for comment beyond the group’s statement.

—Staff writer Noah J. Delwiche can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ndelwiche.

—Staff writer Ivan B. K. Levingston can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @IvanLevingston.