The Story of How Lalo Alcaraz's Cinco De Mayo Cartoon Cost Brentwood Patch Editor Dennis Wilen His Job
We once said that Patch, that national network of "hyperlocal" news you can snooze to, just doesn't get it. And this completely proves our point.
With permission from Lalo Alcaraz
The ex-editor of Brentwood Patch today published the story of how he was fired last year for running a cartoon that the company's New York editors found objectionable and possibly racist. The cartoon by longtime Chicano artist and former LA Weekly regular Lalo Alcaraz came with the headline:
"It's Cinco de Mayo - do you know where your gardener is?"
Now ex-Brentwood Patch editor Dennis Wilen writes that someone in New York said the cartoon expressed ...
"blatantly racist stereotypes" (it could have been "patently racist".) ...
"Wait!" I said. "Lalo IS a Latino. He is the country's first nationally-syndicated Latino cartoonist (La Cucaracha.) He has written books and won awards! Are you calling Lalo a racist?"
"New York finds it objectionable, " was the reply.
Then next morning my boss, and her uber-boss, the West Coast editor, called me up to tell me I was fired for violating my employment agreement with AOL by posting "racist" material.
Alcaraz's piece, in his usual snarky and biting style, depicts a Battle of Puebla that features a maid with a broom and a gardener with a leaf blower going at it. A white woman with her baby observes the merriment quizzically.
Sort of like real life in ... Brentwood. Funny right? Definitely satirical.
We once ran a photo of now-OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano dressed as a gardener with a leafblower in Ciudad magazine when I worked there as a staffer. Opposing him was a photo of Arellano as a middle class, newspaper-grasping Latino.
It was a magazine for middle class Latinos. Guess that wouldn't have made the cut at Patch.
Alcaraz has been a quill-armed Quixote against the white overclass for years in Los Angeles. His latest project has been to voice the thoughts of "Mexican Mitt Romney" on Twitter.
Mexican Abuelas invented the magical Abstinence Underpants, those Abue chonies are so large, you can use them for HAZMAT SUITS! Ajua!
Do you see what we're getting at? Little did the folks at Patch know that firing someone over a cartoon like this would be seen as more racist than actually running it.
Wilen unleashed his story today after Jim Romenesko posted about it on his media blog.
That AOL/Patch didn't see the reflection of its Whole Foods demographic in this tongue-in-cheek depiction of Latino L.A. (the half of the city ignored by Patch, ironically), even from as far away as New York proves that the endeavor is clueless.
Which is what we've said all along.
Read more here.