‘Dilbert’ creator Scott Adams is dropped by newspapers, syndicator, and book publisher after racist video screed

February 28, 2023, 3:26 PM UTC
Scott Adams, cartoonist and author and creator of "Dilbert", poses for a portrait with a life-sized Dilbert cutout in his home office on Monday, January 6, 2014 in Pleasanton, Calif.
Lea Suzuki—The San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images

Hundreds of newspapers, including those within the USA Today network, dropped the “Dilbert” comic strip after its creator, Scott Adams, posted a video urging white people “to get the hell away from Black people,” labeling Black people a “hate group.”

Yesterday, Andrews McMeel Universal, the company that syndicates “Dilbert,” also cut ties with Adams. “[W]e will never support any commentary rooted in discrimination or hate,” said chairman Hugh Andrews and CEO and president Andy Sareyan in a joint statement.

Adams’ controversial take came in response to a poll from conservative outfit Rasmussen Reports, which asked people to respond to the question, “It’s okay to be white.” According to the ADL, the phrase emerged from a 4chan discussion board as a trolling campaign in 2017. The majority of respondents agreed it was “okay,” including 53% of Black respondents, while 26% of Black respondents “disagreed” with the question.

It was enough for Adams to light the match.

“If nearly half of all Blacks are not okay with white people…that’s a hate group,” Adams said in a YouTube video. “I don’t want to have anything to do with them. And I would say, based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to white people is to get the hell away from Black people. Just get the f–k away…because there is no fixing this.”

The publishing world has been here before with Adams.

Last year, some 77 newspapers published by Lee Enterprises dropped the strip after Adams introduced his first Black character, using it to ridicule the LGBTQ community and “woke” business culture.

Fast forward to today: His book publisher, the Penguin Random House imprint, Portfolio, has shelved the publication of his book, Reframe Your Brain, which was scheduled for a September release.

“My publisher for non-Dilbert books has canceled my upcoming book and the entire backlist,” Adams tweeted on Monday. “Still no disagreement about my point of view. My book agent canceled me too.”

Adams’ call for widespread segregation has cost him dearly, at least in the short term—though I suspect reports of his total cancellation are premature.

After all, this is an age in which there is always a second act: When one door slams shut on your fingers, another opening often drowns out the screams.

Ellen McGirt

This edition of raceAhead was edited by Ruth Umoh.

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That the dominant narrative about effective leadership still focuses on individual strength and charisma is a big problem, write experts Deborah Bae and Kiernan Doherty in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. The idea that “a single person—one who intervenes to solve a problem or envision a bold new reality—embodies the ‘hero narrative’ of leadership” is everywhere in life, they say. “Many individuals and organizations with positional power want to maintain the status quo—rooted in racism, colonialism, sexism, and other 'isms'—of who has power and who has a voice.” That means more meaningful diversified and community-driven leadership models go unrecognized and undersupported.

Parting Words

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