This is Jamie Kapp, a 19-year-old artist who posted a very viral comic on white privilege and institutionalized racism. Jamie first made the comic “White Privilege” because she was angry and she wanted to vent.
“I was mad that I had to explain such a simple issue as white privilege in a comic because it’s something that people should read for themselves,” she said.
After seeing posts on Tumblr, where the comic was originally posted, and other places on the internet, she wanted to create something accessible that explained the concepts of white privilege and institutionalized racism. She put it on Tumblr, instead of her DeviantArt account or Facebook, because the community there is particularly dedicated to social justice.
But for every social justice blog Jamie saw, there was a blog mocking it. She had never made a comic centered around race or anything remotely political before, the most popular comic of hers prior to this work being about relationships on the internet.
The first feedback she received was mostly positive, comments like “this is how we white ally” or “this is how you do it.” Her first negative message came in around the time the post had hit approximately 20,000 notes on Tumblr. That was also around the time BuzzFeed contacted her asking for her permission to share the comic.
“I looked and said ‘oh wait, there’s a Facebook comment section [on BuzzFeed]. Oh no, this is not going to be good for me,’” Jamie said. A short time later, Jamie shut down her blog in reaction to the sheer number of hate mail and death threats she was receiving.
This is what Jamie’s Tumblr looks like right now.
Jamie has a history of suffering from anxiety and other mental health issues like depression.
“I took pills, I got medicated, I went to therapy,” she said. “I kind of worked past the worst of it. But it’s still kind of there in the back of my head. I do suffer from really bad self-esteem issues so I do tend to focus on the negative reviews rather than the positive, which is something a lot of people told me is bizarre.”
In an attempt to deter people from leaving hate messages and death threats, Jamie shut down her blog, calling it a hiatus, and now only gets online to check her email, websites for her schoolwork, and check in on her inbox on Tumblr.
“People have flooded my inbox and basically signal boosted the comic more because I might be dead,” Jamie said. “Which is kind of unfortunate for me because I’m not dead.”
Jamie’s withdrawal from Tumblr galvanized people into sharing the comic more and promoting it more, but she would really just like to try and put the whole incident behind her.
“I would like my message to be heard, but I would really like to come back and post on Tumblr some more.”
Many have accused Jamie of being a white apologist, of having too much white guilt. “It’s not that I hate white people, I never even said that, I never said that I hated anyone,” Jamie said. “I hate ignorance.”
For now, Jamie plans on trying to get her life back to normal as much possible and put the comic — and all of the vitriol that it inspired — behind her. She’s currently in the process of getting registered with the school district of her county so she can get field experience and work with children. Someone from Chicago approached her via Twitter to ask permission to use her comic as an instructive tool. Someday she plans to come back to the internet.
“On the one hand, I’m so thankful that I have this cool place to share my thoughts and ideas and artwork. But at the same time, I do fear for my life and other people’s lives. To be honest, even if I knew this was going happen, I would have posted it anyway.”