Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance to Indy Star: Current ‘Apology’ Is Not Enough

Nov 23, 2014
4:43 PM

The fallout from the Indy Start editorial cartoon has been intense, and rightly so. Yes, this is what a major U.S. newspaper thought was a good idea to have published and to also promote:


Gary Varbel’s cartoon is no longer on IndyStar’s Facebook page, and yesterday the newspaper’s executive editor issued an “apology” that only made the issue worse.

Now, the Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance still has questions for the Indy Star, demanding that the newspaper publicly apologize for the cartoon and even saying that people should boycott both the newspaper and its corporate owner, Gannett.

We emailed the group about why they issued a petition, and they is what Karla Lopez-Owens, a member of the group, emailed us:

What did you find problematic about the cartoon?
We feel that Gary Varvel’s work past and present, is an example of blatant racism. His current cartoon featured in the Indy Star (since removed) portrays a dangerous depiction of undocumented immigrants. The image Varvel created is reminiscent of cartoons depicting degrading Jewish stereotypes in Nazi Germany.This sort of flagrant fear-mongering against a vulnerable population is absolutely irresponsible and completely unacceptable.

We feel that this depiction of immigrants is a direct attack on our character by portraying us as criminals, invaders and unwelcome guests.

We immigrants are students, parents, neighbors, volunteers and hardworking people who want to contribute to the community and we refuse to be portrayed in this demeaning light.

What did you think of how the newspaper handled editing of the cartoon and the initial apology it published?Although the newspaper did pull the cartoon from their website, and issued a statement saying they “erred” in publishing the cartoon, that is not enough. It isn’t addressing the core problem. It’s merely admitting that they made a mistake. I looked back over every statement released from them and not a single one is a sincere apology to the immigrant community.

What are you requesting that the newspaper do moving forward?
Aside from the apology, we are requesting that the Star consider showcasing an immigrant student on a monthly basis. That would be one step in the right direction. It would show that the Star is sincere and it would show the immigrant community that this newspaper is inclusive and welcoming.

The Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance is a coalition of students with members from colleges, universities and graduate schools from all over the State of Indiana, so we know there would many individuals willing to participate in this sort of initiative.

The group also let us know that it will be holding a Thanksgiving food drive in front of the newspaper this Wednesday as a way to call attention that Indiana’s immigrant community believes in staying positive when faced with clear acts of media racism.

As for Varvel? He hasn’t tweeted since Friday and has yet to share his thoughts about the reaction. Yet just the week before, the newspaper published his Varvel cartoon: