For some people, decency is less a routine response to life than something they pretend to display if the larger climate is right. So with a blatantly racist fuming mantrum at America’s helm, Americans today engage in high levels of overt indecency. If you have not experienced these upticks in racist and ethnic aggression, ask around. Someone in your circle likely has.

At the same time that people of color confront overt and covert racism in their daily lives, a political artist is using the tensions as fodder. At the same time that people’s countries of origins are deemed “shitholes” and immigration pathways for people of color are rolled back while the president begs for Norwegians, the Albuquerque Journal is increasing the tiki-torch flames.

The publication recently landed in hot water after publishing a cartoon by Sean Delonas that shows a white couple in business attire being robbed by thugs of color who numerically outnumber the white people in a literal alley (the MS-13 jacket references a street gang). The cartoon also includes a suicide bomber.

“Now, honey… I believe they prefer to be called ‘Dreamers’ or future Democrats,” the white man says to the white woman. After furious backlash, an editor apologized for the cartoon which many internalized as attacking Latinx immigrants and their families.

“In hindsight, instead of generating debate, this cartoon only inflamed emotions. This was not the intent, and for that, the Journal apologizes,” editor Karen Moses said. “I repeat that the Albuquerque Journal does not condone racism or bigotry in any form.”

As the New York Times noted, New Mexico’s population is almost half Latinx. Running this kind of cartoon in a community largely impacted by racist immigration policy was a risky move that likely reminded editors everywhere of something else. With the privilege to express oneself—or editorially approve someone else’s expression—comes the responsibility to accept and address the community’s critique.

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