Activities will help students:
- understand how a cartoon uses irony to make a political statement
- interpret visual and written material in an editorial cartoon
This is the second lesson in the series "Using Editorial Cartoons to Teach Social Justice."
In April 2010, Arizona passed Senate Bill 1070, which allows police to stop anyone who looks as though he or she might be in the United States illegally. These “suspects” must produce paperwork that proves that they are citizens. The law aims to identify immigrants who are in the country illegally, but questions have been raised about how police would decide who should be stopped and asked for papers. One criticism is that the law allows racial profiling. This editorial cartoon uses irony to comment on the new law. Completing the following activities will help you can understand the cartoon.
Cartoon by David Fitzsimmons. Reprinted with Permission. Teachers may purchase individual cartoons for other lesson plans at PoliticalCartoons.com
Format: Complete these activities using a Numbered Heads approach: Divide the class into groups of four. Within your group, count off, and answer the following questions. Each group member should be able to report to the rest of the class on your group’s discussion.
1. Start by looking at the images.
- What does the background represent? If you’re not sure, find out here.
- What does the hooded character represent?
2. Now look at the words.
- To whom is the figure talking? How can you tell?
- Given what you know about the Arizona law, why does the character specifically address “citizens,” rather than, say, “residents”?
- What is he referring to when he challenges Latino citizens to “prove you’re as American as I am?”
3. The Cartoon’s Strategy: Irony
This cartoon uses irony to make its point. Irony refers to a situation in which something happens that is the opposite of what was expected. Carefully read the bubble on the right. Why does the figure say “prove to me you’re as American as I am” instead of just “prove you’re American”? What is ironic about this particular figure proudly proclaiming his American citizenship? What is ironic about the figure insisting that Latino citizens prove citizenship to him?
Report: (Call out a number from 1 to 4. Share that the student in each group with the number called will report the group’s conclusions to the class.) The representatives from each group take turns answering the questions, based on your group’s discussion.