Latino Artists Can’t Get No Respect

[Editor’s Note: This column is written by Lalo Alcaraz, a cartoonist, artist and creator of the first nationally syndicated, politically themed Latino daily comic strip, “La Cucaracha.”]

If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a million times. Last week News Taco Editor Sara Inés Calderón tagged me in a tweet about Banksy’s immigrant/DREAM Act graffiti art in Los Angeles and San Diego. My first reaction was to ask, “So what? It’s been done before a million times.” Incidentally, so have I.

Banksy’s transformation of the iconic “Immigrants Crossing” sign, which has become a symbol representing decades of anti-immigrant sentiment in California into one of seeming hope is something that Chicano artists have been doing all throughout California and the Greater Aztlan Territories for decades. The only difference is, when Banksy does it, it’s news.

Even in outlets like Colorlines, which purport to offer informed reporting about racial justice issues. Colorlines praised the appearance of the Banksy piece showing the immigrant, as if it somehow validates undocumented immigrants and their aspirations for the very first time.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/sarachicad/status/41196265425485824″]

This issue of inattention, or being relegated to the back burner, is a never-ending issue for artists of color. Many of us create our work for the betterment of our communities, and no sometimes it seems no one cares. It’s called boring, pedantic, same ol’ same ol’, but when someone like a Banksy or a Shepard Fairey comes along and bites our work — or just does something similar — it is hailed as sheer brilliance by the media and critics. The primary difference here is that a celebrity or an establishment “artist” (we’re usually talking about hipster white guys) did it.

I’m tired of it!

Banksy or Shepard Fairey can do whatever the hell they want — who am I to tell them what to draw? Both artists do some cool work, but I just hate that once again, the work of artists of color is often dismissed as run-of-the-mill or invisible, yet when similar work is parroted and/or mined by mainstream white artists, people just gush.

I call on media, critics and audiences in general to support or at least familiarize themselves with the work of artists of color. Presuming them to be less than white, mainstream artists is part of the cycle that keeps them non-mainstream in the first place. Artists have been borrowing from each other since the second cave artist started drawing the second cave painting. Yet, who gets resources and support is often determined by who gets the credit, and in a world where Banksy’s work is heralded while the work of others is ignored, guess who’s going to be on top?

Follow Lalo Alcaraz on Twitter @laloalcaraz

[Image Courtesy Lalo Alcaraz’s Facebook]

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

U.S. citizen detained overnight by ICE – they thought he was undocumented

Victor Landa July 6, 2017

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco (1.5 minute read)  This is startling news. Up until last night at a dinner conversation I believed that the idea that an American citizen would be […]

Willie Velásquez documentary is a lesson for Latinos on the importance of voting

NewsTaco May 9, 2017

*Why you should read this: Because today is Willie Velasquez day and a quick search of his name turned up no news stories. This piece, by Mercedes Olivera, is from […]

DIECIOCHO Podcast: Texas Rep. Rafael Anchia – Trump, Gerrymandering and Money

NewsTaco June 8, 2017

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco (1 minute read, 34 minute listen)  It’s safe to say that the just-ended Texas legislative session was the most acrimonious in memory. We can talk for […]

Ted Cruz gets an earful in McAllen for July 4

Victor Landa July 5, 2017

*I’m posting this because it was mostly Latinos, organizing, protesting, making their voices heard. Everyone needs to know that Latinos in deep South Texas are standing up. VL By Patrick […]

Pence will host White House Cinco de Mayo party

NewsTaco May 4, 2017

*Why you should read this: Because there’ll be no Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House (I know, big deal – we’ll be spared the taco-bowl). VL By Hadas […]

Vietnam War veteran fears he could be deported

Victor Landa July 7, 2017

*This Vietnam veteran, born in Mexico, was awarded two Purple Hearts and given U.S. citizenship after his service. He’s misplaced his documents and after paying $345 the government wants more […]

Castro will not run for U.S. Senate

NewsTaco May 1, 2017

By Victor Laneda, NewsTaco (i.5 minute read)    Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) says he will not be running for the U.S. Senate against Ted Cruz. Castro had promised to make […]

Henry Cisneros: Why Can’t Americans See Latinos Are Country’s ‘Saving Grace’?

Victor Landa July 7, 2017

*Good question. I think it’s because we’re not the ones telling our story. We need to fight for our narrative. VL By Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News (1.5 minute read)  SAN […]