Down at the Arroyo Cafe, the news of the week was on the menu. Paper in hand, Romero turned to Lurlene. “Look at this headline! ‘Pima College opens $12 million science building, lab to include 6 skeletons who are PCC board members.’ ”

“Very funny,” I said. “Did you see where the university is spending $80 million to renovate McKale?”

Professor Java perked up. “I believe they’re going to call it ‘McColosseum.’ When they’re done, it’ll resemble the Colosseum in Rome — complete with lion kennels, a cloister for Wilbur’s vestal virgins, a piazza devoted to Emperor Miller, a temple for the Oracle of Lute and assorted Wildcat divinities.”

Rosie wiped the counter. “Speaking of sports, what did you make of the NBA sticking it to Sterling?”

Lurlene coughed up a dust devil. “I heard the NAACP revoked his lifetime achievement award after the old rattlesnake was taped saying don’t bring black people to my NAACP lifetime achievement award dinner.”

Rosie swept the crumbs into her hand. “Too bad, right? Poor Mr. Sterling was about to turn the Clippers around by hiring Cliven Bundy to be their assistant coach.”

Romero cackled. “Really? I heard Mr. Cliven Bundy was going to offer Sterling a chance to buy into his basketball team franchise.”

Rosie chuckled and filled Romero’s cup. “They just got caught. I’ll bet the U.S. has a tape of Putin asking his girlfriend to not bring Ukrainians to the Olympic games. Here’s my headline of the week: ‘America discovers racist in America; America shocked! A confused Supreme Court says, “Didn’t we just rule that racism doesn’t exist here anymore?” ’ ”

Romero, gobbling bacon like a javelina at a trash can, shook his head. “I kept waiting for Clarence Thomas to cite himself as evidence that affirmative action afforded no positive benefit to society. Hypocrite.”

I arched my eyebrow, my cue to pontificate. “Seriously. We all have to deal with our own racism. When I was a kid I thought every Latino was Jose Jimenez, that clown on the old “Ed Sullivan Show.” Then I met Carlos. New kid on the block. Cool kid. He introduced me to Santana and taught me all the Spanish curse words. In return I pretended to hate Speedy Gonzales cartoons.”

Romero wiped an invisible tear from his eye. “That’s beautiful, gringo.”

Rosie declared that everybody has racist demons and every family has a racist in its attic. “I had an uncle who told me black people had an extra bone that made them able to dance better than us. I think extra bone material accounted for his thick skull.”

Roger brushed his long black hair off his shoulder. “I was tutoring my boy in calculus at the library when I caught this old white man staring at me like I was magical. Matlock couldn’t believe a Tohono O’odham could speak English.”

Rosie knew why. “I’ll bet he grew up watching ‘The Lone Ranger.’ It’s the Tonto effect. We all talk like Speedy Gonzales and you all talk like Tonto. These stereotypes are like minstrels haunting the dark alleys in our brains.” She confessed Hop Sing was her favorite character on Bonanza. We all cringed.

I bragged about 3-year-old Emma, my beautiful mixed-race granddaughter, a kid blessed with a rainbow of proud ancestors. She’ll grow up in a post-racial world if the Lord hears my prayer. “May my generation carry our racism to the grave.”

Romero dabbed his dry eyes with his napkin. “You’re killing me, Martin Luther Gringo.”

Lurlene coughed up a tumbleweed. “Sterling’s downfall is the most spectacular revenge ever wrought by a woman. I’ll bet she was listening to an Adele CD while she taped their conversation.”

From the booth in the back, Norma shouted, “Alanis Morissette!”

I stole Romero’s uneaten toast. “Just the same, scorpions like Bundy and Sterling are not what America is about. Am I right?”

Romero coughed and spat out his coffee. “Get real, vato! America is about ignoring years of ugly racist behavior by a dude because he’s rich and powerful. At least until some gold-digging bimbo actually tapes him. Hey Lurlene, what’s that perfume you’re wearing?”

Professor Java listed the suspects. “Smells like ‘Monsoon Wind.’ Is it ‘Swampbox Breeze’ or ‘Cooler Pad #5’?”

Rosie sniffed the air. “ ‘Javelina Musk’? Maybe ‘Eau du Bobcat Spray’?”

Lurlene looked down her nose at us through her cat-eye eyeglasses. “ ‘Wet Creosote,’ if you jerks must know. What else is in that paper of yours, Romero?”

“City Manager Miranda addresses budget shortfall, cuts city positions, then asks business community to assume the position. ... Councilman Kozachik calls for end to city sick-pay sell-back program, police union calls for end to Koz. ... NSA confirms it was Sterling on phone, has amazing data on mistress. ... Arizona Legislature ends session, crawls back under rock.” Romero sighed. “Same old problems, Rosie.”

“Madre de Dios.” Rosie topped off his cup. “Know who can get things done in this world? I’ll tell you who can shake things up, old man. Mistresses with tape recorders.”

Contact editorial cartoonist and columnist David Fitzsimmons at