Trying to grasp my place in a new reality

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This has been an odd few weeks for editorial cartoonists. Actually, I can’t speak for everyone else, only myself. It’s been a unique period of time for me as a cartoonist.

Cartoonists draw for different reasons; I am beginning to understand that I draw cartoons to try to show people things they may not have noticed before, things that I see. It’s as if I approach what I do as if it were a conversation. It’s how I have always used my craft, even when I was a little girl. I never really thought my opinion mattered for much; but since I was able to draw, I shared my drawings with anyone who would look. I drew for myself, but I also drew for everyone I became close to: friends, teachers, colleagues. I’m still doing that today, only my friends are my much bigger online audience. My live drawing is an extension of that; my choice of what I pick to draw is my commentary.

With age, it dawned on me that my opinion mattered; during the primaries and election, my cartoons were more opinionated. Sometimes I needed to vent. But now everyone is venting. Do we really need another venter? What I am trying to figure out is how to contribute so that I don’t add noise. We have to keep drawing and writing to ensure the preservation of our democracy. What also needs to be diligently paid attention to — and treasured — is our collective hearts as people of this country. We are good people: kind, thoughtful, generous. We believe in freedom and inclusion.

After 9/11, I didn’t think I could draw humor anymore. When I finally did, I decided to dedicate more of my work to political/editorial cartoons. Now I am at a similar juncture. Since the election, I have been searching for how to contribute. My new promise is to draw what I see, and try to find the positive. If calling out injustice in a thoughtful way is possible, I will do that.

My plan is to speak softly and carry a big stick, as President Theodore Roosevelt famously said. Cartoons are often very effective big sticks. My belief is that to be effective, I need to be sure to use my pen — my stick — wisely.

Written by

Visual journalist/writer for New Yorker, New York Times, CBS News, CNN. TED, SXSW speaker. Looking to change world w humor. lizadonnelly.com

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