Time Magazine's Latino Voter Cover Features Non-Latino Face

5 years ago

This week's Time magazine cover boldly declares "Yo Decido. Why Latinos will pick the next President." The accompanying story by Michael Scherer explores how the rising force that is the Latino vote can turn Arizona into a presidential battleground in 2012. The cover illustration is made of 20 different portraits of Latino men and women in Phoenix, all photographed by Marco Grob. In classic Time form, it's clean and powerful.

Except that at least one person pictured is not actually Latino. 

A friend of mine, Michael Schennum, is the short-haired gentleman in the top row, center, behind the letter "M." He is half Chinese and Irish and Norwegian. Not Latino. Not even a little bit. At least as far as Schennum knows.

Schennum, who is a staff photographer for The Arizona Republic, wrote on his Facebook page, "They never told me what it was for or [asked] if I was Latino." 

To preview the issue, which hit newsstands on Friday, Time's LightBox blog explained the story behind the photographs in its web feature "Election 2012: Faces of the Latino Vote."  

TIME contract photographer Marco Grob spent a recent February weekend chronicling Latino voters in Phoenix, Ariz. His portfolio for the magazine is not just comprehensive--it is insightful and deep. The Swiss photographer, who is now based in New York City, previously photographed TIME's Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience, a multimedia project revealing testimonies of the national tragedy, as well memorable portraits of Lady Gaga and Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton for 2010′s TIME 100 issue.

True to form, Grob captured the essence of each Arizona face with a single camera click. He photographed deacons, dancers and Dreamers; nutrition undergrads, car aficionados and immigration activists; Mexicans, Hondurans and Guatemalans. "There were many unique challenges involved in this shoot, as we photographed around 170 people in three days on four different locations including a university, a local restaurant, an outdoor market and a Catholic church," says Grob. "The terms 'Latino' and 'Latina' have a vast identity of their own, so for the duration of this project we strove to break some of those stereotypes."

So perhaps it was an artistic choice! Maybe one stereotype of being "Latino" is that one must be Latino. How closed-minded are we?!

Or, more likely, Grob was simply doing lazy photojournalism. Hey, all non-white people look the same, right? Luckily for Schennum, it was a photographer who made the mistake and not an Arizona cop.

The magazine has since apologized for the gaffe. Last week, a Time spokesperson emailed us this response about the cover. 
Over the course of three days TIME photographed 151 people for the current cover. We took steps to ensure that everyone self-identified as Latino, that they are registered voters and that they would be willing to answer our questions. If there was a misunderstanding with one of our subjects, we apologize. 

This post was originally published by OC Weekly on February 23, 2012.

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