TIME Cover Story On Latino Voters Includes Non-Latino Man

The cover of TIME magazine this week includes 20 portraits of Latino voters for the story “Yo Decido,” about the role of Latinos in the upcoming presidential race. But one of the “Latinos” on the cover is Michael Schennum, who is half-Chinese, half-white and not Latino at all. Schennum has said that when photographed for the story, TIME “never told me what it was for or [asked] me if I was Latino.”

This episode, writes Marcia Dawkins at the Huffington Post, presents an opportunity to discuss the challenges of racial identification. It’s a particularly unique situation for Latinos, since they actually constitute an ethnicity, not a racial group.

Although the press often talks about Latinos as if they are only a race, we must understand that in the US they constitute an ethnicity that also identifies in racial terms. And we must note that each individual Latino may identify differently from everyone else in the ethnic group, including members of his or her own family. This suggests that, as with multiracials, what’s most important about Latinos is that they call into question the Black and White racial categories we tend to think of as obvious and stable. So, when a case of mistaken identity like Schennum’s comes up we are able to see how unreliable appearance is as a form of identification. And we also see how all the groups we now think of in racial or multiracial terms were once ethnicities as well.

Read more at: www.huffingtonpost.com