Why Can't This N.M. Newspaper Stop Running Racist Cartoons

By Albert Lin

The Roswell (N.M.) Daily Record and editorial cartoonist Keith Bell are at it again.

Four years after the two were criticized for a cartoon that was racist to the town’s majority-Latino population, they have collaborated on an illustration that is racist to Blacks and Latinos.

Here’s the latest:

The caption reads, “Roswell signage suggestion to clear up any confusion about where some people will go.” One sign suggests that Latino residents should move 811 miles west, to Keene, Calif., the location of the Csar E. Chvez National Monument. Another sign suggests that Black residents should move 1,272 miles east, to Atlanta, the location of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.

Bell also shows a bird saying, “What this town really needs is a Larry Bird Boulevard.” Bird, the Hall of Fame basketball player, is white.

A MoveOn.org petition asking businesses to stop advertising in the Daily Record had more than 700 signatures as of Thursday. Creator Pat Davis wrote: “The Roswell Daily Record’s regular anti-Hispanic and anti-African-American cartoons are anti-New Mexico. They cast Roswell, and all of New Mexico, in a bad light. As an advertiser, I urge you to drop your business with the Daily Record until they drop their racist cartoonist and apologize to New Mexicans they offended.”

Incredibly, this is not the first offensive cartoon Bell has drawn for the Daily Record. In 2011, the Daily Record published the following:

Javier Gonzales, then the Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, demanded apologies.

And there’s more: A no longer available story on KRQE-TV’s website referenced “a series” of cartoons the Daily Record ran in 2011 and 2012 against allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. The story mentions Governor Susana Martinez, a Republican, saying that the cartoons go too far. It’s unclear if Bell was also behind these illustrations.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Roswell’s population of 48,366 (2010 Census) was 53.4 percent Hispanic or Latino. (This includes residents of any race.) Non-Hispanic whites made up 42.0 percent of the population.

As this situation confirms, racist political cartoons unfortunately still appear regularly in American newspapers.

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