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New Caricature

***The staff of the Jim Crow Museum receives dozens of letters and emails. Some of these communiques offer insight into race relations -- historically and in the present. While some are hateful, we have decided to share some of these letters and emails with our Internet visitors.***

Choco Love

I came across your site a few months ago and found it very informative. After the shock of seeing such racist images wore off, I found myself looking at every picture and reading the history behind them. It made me realize how deeply rooted prejudice was, and still is in America. As an African-American myself, I feel that your site is vital to not only America but the world and that we as human beings must realize that there are more similarities than differences between us. In order to move forward, we must be made aware of the past so we do not repeat the same mistakes.

That being said, I thought I should inform you of a new caricature that deserves attention on your site. There is an anime by the name of Shaman King produced by Shonen Jump that originated in Japan and is shown American television as part of the 4Kids Entertainment formerly known as the FoxBox. There is a character by the name of Choco Love who is African-American, but is portrayed with an oversized Afro, wide eyes, thick lips and a high squeaky voice. In spite of being a Shaman, Choco Love is described as an aspiring comedian who tells very bad jokes providing comic relief.

When I first saw this character on Shaman King, my jaw went slack. Given how most imported anime is heavily edited for American broadcast, one would think that this character would raise a red flag. Bad enough that there is some anime with obvious racial stereotypes. However, I am at a loss to understand how an American broadcasting company can allow this type of racist imagery and not be aware that it might be offensive to African-Americans. Curiously enough, while Choco Love appears on some fan sites, he is notably absent from the Shaman King section of the 4Kids Entertainment website.

L.A. Scott
-- Feb. 22, 2005