News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Thursday, June 14, 2012

TIME cover on the undocumented betrays unconscious bias

I'm heartened that the editors of TIME magazine chose to feature a story about undocumented immigrants on its June 14th cover. The premise is provocative and timely. The art direction for the cover, however, leaves much to be desired.

The editors of TIME selected 35 undocumented immigrants for the photo centered on Washington Post journalist Jose Antonio Vargas who "came out" last year. However, I find it troubling that the people most prominent in the photo all look like a stereotypical "Hispanics." This is disturbing for two reasons.

First, because not all undocumented immigrants are Latinos. (Almost 20% of the undocumented are not from Latin America.)  And second, because not all Latinos look like the people pictured on the cover. To me, the arrangement of the models reflects an unconscious bias. The photographer, Gian Paul Lozza, tells a different story.

”They come from so many different countries, religions and backgrounds,” photographer Gian Paul Lozza said in an article about the making of the cover. “We wanted to bring that diversity to the light. This is not just a problem for Latinos, as we hear about often, but for every culture from around the world.”

I agree with Mr. Lozza. It's a shame his photo does not reflect that diversity.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez


Albert said...

It is great that TIME is tackling the subject of immigration. Had I seen this photo on newsstands it would continue to harbor the continual fear that immigrants are coming in droves. There is a diversity among Latinos to be sure but it would have been nice to see a cover that reflects the millions that come here not beaten by a system but rather ready to work.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez said...

Thanks for your comment, Albert. There is not a bumper sticker solutions to this issue, to be sure.