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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Qatar artist’s cartoon about racism strikes a chord in the US

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“I’m With Kap, Just-Us” T-shirt with Khalid Albaih’s cartoon. Credit: Black Ivy The Brand

A Qatar-based political cartoonist is back in the spotlight for his work, this time for challenging racism in the US.

The artist, Khalid Albaih, rose to fame in the Middle East for his many political cartoons of the Arab Spring.

Last year while in the US, he drew a cartoon in solidarity with NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who kneeled during the national anthem at a game to protest oppression.

NFL player Colin Kaepernick. Credit: Khalid Albaih

The cartoon shows Kaepernick kneeling, with a giant black power fist affixed to his head instead of his signature afro.

Titled “I’m With Kap, Just-Us,” it went viral at the time.

Spurring change

It was recently resurrected on t-shirts amid rallies to support Kaepernick, who has not been signed with any team for the upcoming football season.

Over the weekend, both comedian Dave Chapelle and Chance the Rapper were photographed wearing the shirts.

Some of the shirts immediately sold out, while others can be bought online here for $30 to $35 each. Part of the proceeds will go to charity.

Speaking to Doha News, Albaih said he drew the cartoon because “Being black in America is scary. I knew how he (Kaepernick) felt.”

He added that he hopes his work will help bring about positive change in the US, as was his hope for the Arab Spring cartoons.

Parallels

Last year, Albaih took a cross-country road trip with nine other Arab artists to compare the struggle for civil rights in the US to what’s been going on in the Middle East.

Speaking to the Guardian at the time, he said one of the main differences is that people in the US turned to the courts to uphold the constitution and their rights.

“Egyptian Elections” (2012)

In many Arab nations, “there isn’t (such a system), so it turns into war,” he said.

He also noted however that the rise of US President Donald Trump and white supremacy has made it more difficult to be black or Muslim in America.

“Lots of people have reason to protest that flag,” he added.

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