April 01, 2016

"Hostile tribes" illustration in Portland Monthly

An Apology From Portland Monthly

The combination of an illustration and a headline in our April issue caused justifiable offense.

By Zach Dundas
Recently, Portland Monthly published a short essay on the subject of school choice, accompanied by an illustration that adapted the standard school-crossing sign to show its stick-figure humans armed with arrow-like weapons. The headline—written by editors, not the freelance writer who contributed the body of the article—used the phrase “hostile tribes” to describe the social tensions arising from the issues discussed in the piece that followed.

Since the illustration and the article title appeared in our April issue and on our website, we have heard from numerous readers and Native American community leaders that this combination of words and images is offensive and derogatory, evoking negative stereotypes of Native Americans.

We erred in publishing this image and title, particularly in combination. We did not intend to offend any person or community, but in this case intention is beside the point. We have heard clearly that we caused pain, anger, and confusion among readers and communities we care about, and we are sorry.

As a first step, the image has been removed from the online version of the article, and the online headline has been changed. We’ll address the situation in print at the first opportunity afforded by our publication schedule, which will be our June issue.

Some thoughts from SorryWatch (!) on how well the Portland Monthly apologized:

Against all odds, another excellent apology, good heavens

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