On February 15, the New Mexico paper Roswell Daily Record posted a very racist editorial cartoon that poked fun at cultural icons. Drawn and worded by Keith Bell, it’s a close-up of a street sign that bears the names of heroes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez and how many miles each of their memorial sites are located. On the bottom, in small print, he then says: “To clear up any confusion on where some people should go.”
“Where some people should go?” That’s terrible. As a Bostonian, I was offended further by the addition of a bird in the picture stating, “What this town really needs is a Larry Bird Boulevard!” and his little friend going “Yea!” Larry Bird was one of the star players of the Boston Celtics in his prime and one of handful of known White basketball players. Mr. Keith Bell, leave any association to my hometown out of your terrible and stupid racist cartoon. At least Boston Herald apologized, granted it was short. Boston doesn’t have a Larry Bird boulevard, but we do have a beautiful bronzed statue of Phillis Wheatley, the first Black woman poet to be published in America.
Bell and Roswell Daily Record should be embarrassed. But clearly they are not. The cartoon is still on the site for all to see. As reported by Latino Rebels, after Roswell shamelessly did a Facebook update about it, a MoveOn.org petition appeared for advertisers to withdraw business with the paper:
The Roswell Daily Record’s regular anti-Hispanic and anti-African-American cartoons are anti-New Mexican. 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.
You can email publisher Charles Fischer to drop your ads firstname.lastname@example.org
And courtesy of Latino Rebels, we now know that Bell has drawn questionable cartoons before. Rebels reached out to Fischer about the drawing, but he has yet to respond.
If Bell is one of those avant-garde, pushing the envelope type of artists, why hasn’t he said something about this? The cartoon was drawn was a satiric response to the New Mexico’s plan of new street signs and the state has a history of immigration issues. But it’s hard to tell what side they’re on when neither the paper or artist have even issued a statement. This cartoon was very disappointing.