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I’m Not Racist, But… An Open Letter To Bill Leak

The following article was published in New Matilda.

Erase Racism_ReubenBrand_LR

“Erase Racism” by Reuben Brand

Dear Bill,

From one cartoonist to another, please stop.

Your racism is not wanted and needs to be erased. Your work does more harm than good and your constant belittlement of heavily marginalised minority communities is deeply problematic on many levels.

Over the years you have seemingly found great solace in depicting not only the Indigenous community, but also the Muslim community, as the tired, worn out stereotypes that you somehow still find amusing. Racism and bigotry isn’t funny, Bill.

Racist cartoons by Bill Leak

Racist cartoons by Bill Leak

Since when was domestic violence, child abuse and rape an amusing topic? Your depictions of the First Nations people are appalling. Abusive, alcoholic, sex offenders. Seriously, Bill? To think that you have been getting paid to peddle your racism for over 22 years would be laughable if it didn’t sadly highlight the ugly face of racism we have in this country.

Racist cartoons by Bill Leak

Racist cartoons by Bill Leak

Your fallacious characterisations and unfounded fear of “the other” is pathetic and does nothing but incite more hatred. You demonise entire communities and play into the politics of fear and race baiting.

The fact that you can hide behind your pen and warped notion of free speech and unapologetically scribble out offensive and racist cartoons further highlights your white, middle aged, male privilege and the systemic media bias that continues to not only publish, but also support your work. You have had numerous opportunities to apologise, but instead, you have a bit of a sook and try to justify your bigotry.

So, let me get this straight, you enjoy your free speech so you can draw racially motivated cartoons, but don’t like being called a racist, right? How about just stop being a racist?

Instead of going to your next clan meeting, perhaps take some time to look around and take stock of the wonderful country we live in. You never know, you may even learn a thing or two and realise that your work does nothing but tear at the very fabric of our vibrantly multicultural society.

We don’t need any more bigoted commentators in this country; we already have the likes of Hanson, Kruger, Divine and Bolt et al. So the next time you have a divine bolt of inspiration to pen something racially derisive, please don’t.

Cartoonists don’t draw to demonise, abuse and preach intolerance. We draw to challenge the status quo and keep the bastards honest. There is a clear difference between clever satire and racism, Bill.

You are a talented artist, but sadly your pen is filled with venom and your penchant for picking on minority communities is an unfortunate reflection on your lack of nuanced understanding of the vibrant world we live in.

The pen is a mighty weapon; it brings out the best in people, and also the worst. Racism has no place in any society and needs to be erased.  We are better than this and must ensure this unacceptable behaviour is no longer tolerated. Change is coming and it starts with people like you, Bill.


Reuben Brand.

2 Responses to I’m Not Racist, But… An Open Letter To Bill Leak

  1. James says:


    Your essay is well meant but misguided. Bill created about three hundred cartoons per year, so to lump four cartoons about Aboriginal family life together in one blog give a slanted picture. Mostly he lampooned our own white, middle-aged men (and women) – particularly politicians. He helped expose the truth in many aspects of Australian life and politics – yes, including wife bashers and people who would like to blow us all up. It would have been cowardly to avoid touching on those subjects. But Bill had balls. He was not racist but he did expose whatever he saw that was wrong or dangerous. He felt he had to give the PC populace a good shake, a wake up. Calling an exposé on Islam ‘racist’ is disingenuous (although a common tactic by the PC Brigade). Islam is not a race. It is an ideology. Fundamental Islam is a dangerous ideology and needs to be banished, just as fascism, misogyny and genocide should be banished.
    Cartoonists don’t necessarily pick ‘funny’ topics. They pick things like war, intolerance, injustice, dishonesty, stupidity and the things we have already mentioned.
    I like your cartoons too, Rueben, but please don’t be afraid to depict the truth in all aspects of life – regardless of race or ideology.

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