Letter to Bishop Gregory, sent with a gift of some pencils

Are my figures all white?

Dave Walker
[Address supplied]
Langdon Hills

Bishop of St. Asaph
The Rt Revd Gregory K. Cameron
Bishop’s Office
St. Asaph
LL17 0TW

12 February 2016

Dear Bishop Gregory,

Last week, on Facebook, you described my black-and-white drawn-as-a-line-drawing ‘We are the church’ colouring page as being ‘very monochrome racially’.



The image in question was not, I am aware, the best drawing I have ever done. It was originally drawn for another purpose altogether, and lacked several aspects of a healthy church congregation, namely children and people smiling. I regret putting the image up in an unedited form, and recognise that I need to improve these aspects of the picture.

But, by describing my drawing as ‘very monochrome racially’, I would suggest that you are, first of all, misunderstanding the nature of a colouring page. If I was to have supplied a colouring page in any non-monochrome format there would not be much to colour in, and I imagine that those wanting to use the image for its intended purpose would be rather disappointed.

But you are also effectively saying that the figures in this image are white. I don’t know how you can know this, as it is a black and white line drawing. If their skin is white, then their hair, clothes, and shoes are also all white. This would make them an unusual congregation to say the least, and one who would need to spend a significant amount of time taking care of their laundry.

If these figures have white skin, then all the figures in all my black and white cartoons and illustrations (the vast majority of my work) are white. That’s ten years of Church Times contributions, along with just about everything else I’ve done.

I put a huge amount of energy into making my cartoons diverse. I take care to depict clergy (now including bishops) as both male and female, and I try to make the total numbers of characters of either sex in my cartoons approximately equal. I have not always, I will freely admit, made enough effort to include those in wheelchairs, but I have become better at doing so. But the suggestion that I have chosen to depict all the people in all of my cartoons over more than ten years as all being white is quite hurtful, and, if I’m to be honest, made me quite angry when I read it.


I am enclosing a gift of some multicultural ‘People of the World’ skin-tone pencils. Please print this image off and colour it in. I hope that this will demonstrate that the racial and ethnic composition of this picture is entirely down to the person colouring it, and that seeing a black and white line drawing as only consisting of white people says more about the person viewing it than the artist.

Yours faithfully,

Dave Walker


  1. Dear Dave, I’m sorry to have sparked off such upset. I think you’re a fine drawer and cartoonist, and you leave me in no doubt that you take equalities very seriously. Let me assure you that I have not made any comment at all on your drawings that “all the people in all of [your] cartoons over more than ten years as all being white”. I was speaking about how this one cartoon appeared to me. I look forward to receiving the colouring pencils, and I shall endeavour to ensure that your cartoon once coloured is as diverse as we’d both like it to be seen … and as we’d like to see our Churches as well.

  2. That is not an apology, even though the word “sorry” shows up. A true apology acknowledges the harm that has been done and takes responsibility for it. An apology does not attempt to push the blame off on the person who has been hurt. An apology includes the promise of actions that the guilty party will take to avoid such bad behaviours in the future.

    A true apology would read something like,

    Dear Dave,

    I am deeply grieved that I was mistaken in my interpretation of your colouring page. I understand that posting a negative comment on a social media platform is harmful at the best of times, and that my position as a Bishop lends extra weight to those harsh words. I recognize that my words have hurt you and, because of my position, my words could affect your livelihood. I wholeheartedly retract that comment and have deleted it from Facebook. I am so sorry. In the future, I will consider my position and authority before making any such negative comment again.

  3. Well said, Dave. You always make such a great effort to achieve equality across all our human differences. This comment was rather unfortunate and I can understand you’d be feeling hurt and angry. Perhaps it is a while since the good bishop has used a colouring book 🙂 but I’m sure he did not intend to be hurtful. The trouble with quick responses via Twitter et al is that they can be too quick and they can’t be un-sent.
    We love your drawings – even in our Australian church! Keep doing what you do so well.

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