Alibi V.27 No.7 • Feb 15-21, 2018 

Editorial

¡Diga No al Racismo!

Albuquerque newspaper stumbles into darkness

A Jaguar Warrior
A Jaguar Warrior
If you wanna know, I have got plenty of stories about the Albuquerque Journal. As a teenager, I worked as an intern and stringer for the Trends section, which is where they used to print everything but news and sports, in the before time.

Before that, I delivered the Albuquerque Tribune to 350 houses in the Northeast Heights every afternoon except Sunday. My supervisor for that job was a dude named Joe Archuleta, a big rocker dude from the North Valley who wore a fishman’s cap and proudly sported a gold and turquoise marijuana leaf on his heishi choker, all freak style.

Most of the other kids who worked Archuleta’s district had Hispanic names like Alarid or Trujillo too (March isn’t my real name by the way; it’s a merely a convenient artifice that I use so that interacting with your world is easier). And though we all lived in the far Northeast Heights and attended either Eldorado, Manzano or Sandia High School, we were still outsiders; I know some of my peers on those paper routes hoped like hell they could one day do as well as Joe did—with all his resources and authority—if they “stayed in the newspaper business.”

Despite the fact that we all came from middle class families, we were still treated with casual indifference or outright fear by some students, far too many teachers and most administrators at the schools we each attended. White privilege went a long way in determining academic outcomes for the Chicanos in the far Northeast Heights neighborhood I grew up in; mostly I was one of the lucky ones, but I fought like a Jaguar Warrior to get from the back of that Journal delivery van and into college.

As any reader past the age of 45 may recall, institutional racism in Albuquerque—and that includes at APS and at the Journal—were de rigueur back in the day . Despite the large amount of Hispanics in the area—from various geographical origins, including right fucking here in Albuquerque or New Mexico—we had been effectively colonized by the time the 20th century dawned.

This situation became certain when nuclear scientists started showing up at the Sunport in the late ’30s and early ’40s, looking for a place to do their wet work. By the time of my youth in Burque, there was a clear, if sometimes unspoken dividing line between the jobs that were acceptable for Chicanos and those that should only be held by Anglos.

The first day I reported for work at the Albuquerque Journal—back when the whole operation, printing presses and all, were housed in a huge building on the corner of Silver and Seventh—I spent my first hour sitting in a small room on the first floor with a security guard who was convinced I should be back at the loading dock waiting for Joe Archuleta. He didn’t even wanna hear my explanation. It took a personal, identifying visit from the Trends editor before I was allowed in the elevator that went up to the news room. Serio.

Flash forward 35 years. Mexican-Americans—Chicanos properly because that’s how I roll—have made historical strides, culturally and professionally, here in New Mexico. Why I even hear tell that some of them actually hold significant editorial positions at various media outlets in this state.

That’s totally awesome, but it doesn’t mean that racism has been vanquished. And that’s coming from someone who might have told you that such vile nonsense had indeed been conquered—if you had asked just five years ago.

I really thought I could spend the second half of my life waiting for the first human expedition to Mars to launch, watching Australian cricket or jamming out to my Resin Records collection, but I can’t.

At my age, putting on the finery of a Jaguar Warrior is going to take some doing, but I must, especially when the newspaper of record—the place where I had my first professional journalistic experience—stoops to the obscene nadir being approached by the Trump administration in its approach to immigration policies.

There is no question that the image in question, an editorial cartoon dated Feb. 7, 2018 depicts Chicanos—particularly immigrants from the south—as dirty, violent criminals with connections to murderous terrorists. To believe otherwise is to give in to the double-speak being propagated by Trump and his cronies.

The fact that the editor of the Albuquerque Journal has gone on record to dismiss such odious racism is deeply hurtful; more significantly her equivocation is a clear a reminder of how those behind the Albuquerque Journal may really feel about Mexican-Americans—and more telling—how easily the right wing has come around to endorsing Trump’s hateful entrada into American culture.

Given the fact that the artist who made such objectionable art is known for making racist cartoons and statements, pleading ignorance is not an option. The work of cartoonist Sean Delonas has been singled out for its virulent racism before. It’s impossible to believe that the professional journalistic machinery over at the Journal was unaware of this well-known fact.

But neither is denial or a sort of patronizing manipulation that claims the cartoon was aimed at engendering debate about immigration issues that affect all Americans an adequate response. It’s time to start calling out the authoritarian strategies of the Trump administration and their supporters at the Albuquerque Journal for what they really are: dangerous dividers who risk destroying the very fabric which this great nation is built upon, so that they may advance a backwards looking social agenda.

There, I’ve said it and I mean it. Stop reading the Journal. Diga ¡No! para Trump and his Republican enablers. Plan to vote the bastards out beginning this year. Invest in the truth by supporting the progressive ideas espoused in the free press. You’re reading that right now, so I know you’re headed that way, partner.

We may not be as dark and dry as our colleagues at doomed enterprises that tolerate and encourage racism, but goddamnit we are committed to working together to save this republic. And we intend to have fun doing just that. Join us, won’t you? … It’ll be a helluva lot more fun than going to this afternoon’s pep rally or hanging out in a stinky ’50s style newsroom, I promise.

TMBG: “Your Racist Friend”