Am I a prophet? A time-traveling cartoonist? (toon, photo)

by Lalo Alcaraz on April 7, 2014 in Cartoons, Cultura, Las Fotos

twotoonsOne of my preferred topics for editorial cartoons has always been American mistreatment of indigenous people. Nothing makes me feel better than dreaming up a solid cartoon that reminds us all about the sordid history of our country’s crimes against Indians. The only thing more satisfying is seeing my ideas validated.

This weekend POCHO Florida Burro Jefe Santino J. Rivera sent me a “heads-up” about a Tweet featuring one of these editorial cartoons. I clicked the link and just about fell out of my chair.

The graphic in the Tweet was a side-by-side presentation of my cartoon showing a Native American confronting an Indian-mascot-garbed sports fan next to a photograph of a Native American confronting an Indian-mascot-garbed sports fan (image, above.)

They are eerily similar. The strange part was that I drew my cartoon in 2002, and the photo was taken last week in Cleveland, home of the Cleveland “Indians”:


At first I thought it was just a hilarious comparison. Then I began examining the two images more closely and got a little weirded out. I went to the archives to pull up the big, high-res version of the toon (below, double-click to enlarge) and compared it to the photo. I immediately noticed the face paint, the writing on the shirt, the similar headdresses, and the nearly identical right hand position of the mascot-lovin’ dude:


When I noticed the nearly identical pose of the Native protester in the photo and in my cartoon, I started tripping out.

My work has sometimes been imitated in life, like when the Mitt Romney embraced my Self Deportation immigration policy, which started as a reality-hacking hoax/joke.

Somehow this felt different than mere prescience or amazing foresight; it was something else.

I hate to embarrass myself further, but I must admit that I am a wannabe physics geek. Oh, I can’t do any calculations more complex than figuring out restaurant tips,  but I am interested in black holes, time travel and the like.

You might have heard some say that time doesn’t actually exist, and that all we have is the present. I’d like to think that maybe in 2002 when I was coming up with the cartoon, the image popped into my head directly from 2014 as it was happening and getting posted to the 2014 Internets.

In this scenario, events create ripples in spacetime and move both “forward” and “backward,” and eventually reach every point in spacetime. Or a cartoonist desperate for ideas.

So, while that sounds cool and otherwordly, the more likely scenario is that the Native American sportsball team mascot issue is not going away overnight, and has only moved a little since I drew that toon in ’02.

Regardless, we have to keep talking about this issue, and hopefully one day my cartoons will be but reminders of a very different past and future.

If there are such things.




urbanleftbehind April 7, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Bad week for the Ricans (the red-face boy was named David Rodriguez; not much of us Mexicans in that part of Ohio)

urbanleftbehind April 8, 2014 at 12:04 PM

…actually Pedro Rodriguez. My bad.

WINTERMUTE April 8, 2014 at 12:45 AM

at least one other cartoonist has experienced non-linear time

Atircopih April 8, 2014 at 3:29 AM

Really? Your favorite topic?

Then why not talk about Mexican mistreatment of indigenous Central American people in Mexico and in the USA?

sick of native sympathy April 8, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Our country’s crimes against Indians? Please… Can they get over it already? What happened wasn’t even that bad and it didn’t happen to any native alive today so get over it. Just like no black today was a slave. And no white American alive today did any of it… It’s done and over with, move on…

If it wasn’t early-Americans it would’ve been someone else coming along down the road to take their lands because they couldn’t stop it. The Spanish very well could have done it instead of Early-Americans or eventually the Germans or Chinese or somebody. Indians would not have kept that much land in North America to themselves. If you can’t protect what is yours it’s not yours. They may have been here first but eventually some nation would’ve brought war to them and decimated them, they are lucky we were nice and are overly nice today to keep paying them percap they DONT deserve.

They’re not the only indigenous people in the world to have lost their land. There is no American mistreatment of natives, in fact we treat them too well! Stop paying them from the government and make them live in the real world just like every other american citizen.

As for sports names being racist… yeah they could change them (if they wanted to) but i dont agree with forcing them to. High School teams sure they’re meaningless basically but professional teams that have been around shouldn’t be forced to. I support keeping the Redskins the Redskins.

urbanleftbehind April 8, 2014 at 1:47 PM

I’d actually add the Russians to your list, but I believe that most of today’s Native Americans are actually Russians that survived sun-stroke and the change of climate from their native Siberia and eastern Europe – multigenerational Sunburned Russians.

super390 April 11, 2014 at 5:58 PM

“If you can’t protect what is yours it’s not yours.”

So then, you have no problem on moral grounds with another country nuking the United States out of existence and occupying the rubble. Or the United States doing the same to somebody else. Or anybody exterminating anybody, because it’s just survival of the fittest, screw Jesus.

Hope you live to see your turn, at the hands of someone you consider inferior. Oh, you’ll be whining then, for a few brief seconds.

Proudnative April 10, 2014 at 9:21 AM

Your comment ” to get over it” is a perfect example of how out of touch and misguided most Americans are on the terrible living conditions most Native Americans have.

TM April 14, 2014 at 12:01 AM

“Get over it” = I don’t want to learn about unpleasant truths and be forced to reckon with them. In personal relationships it’s “you’re so sensitive,” typically used against anyone standing up to mistreatment.

Linda Rogers April 14, 2014 at 7:46 AM

My mother was kidnapped as a child and forced to live at a boarding school hundreds of miles from her parents. She is still alive today and is only in her 80s. She was forced to speak english so when she finally got to go home, she could not speak the same language as her family. Because of that I never had the opportunity to learn my native language or traditions. The law may have been repealed, but the actions continued. I am a citizen of a federally recognized tribe, we don’t get payments from the federal government but we sure do get ‘special treatment’. I honestly hope your children are never taken from you, can you imagine the pain my mother and her family went through? yeah, it might not seem that bad to you, but it sure was to them.

Merlene April 16, 2014 at 1:14 PM

This is for “sick of Native Sympathy”: I have known many Native people for the past 25 years and have learned a great deal about their history. Your comment sounds very much like one made by Ronald Reagan when visiting Russia. When asked about our treatment of indigenous people, he answered “we made a mistake by humoring them and allowing them to live on reservations. We should have said come, join us and be citizens like the rest of us.”
Native Americans have been displaced from their reservations, and they ARE living among us.
If you really want to learn the truth about our history of maltreatment of Native people, read a little about all the treaties our government made with them, and about the fact that we broke every treaty that was made. We agreed to allow them to live on a certain portion of their land, then pushed them back repeatedly until they had on a fraction of their land left. Ever wonder why there are so many tribes in Oklahoma ? It’s because our government forced them off their land (again breaking treaties) as the military supervised their long trek to Indian Country (Oklahoma now) at the point of a gun. Now, on the subject of “non of them are still alive now”. I know a Potawatomi woman whose mother, as a child, was part of a government research project in the 20th century, that scraped the corneas of their subjects and then gave them food with maggots in it to see how their vision was affected. They were forced to be in the research project. It is best not to spout out about these issues you brought up in this format because you will be promptly put in your place.

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