Time Magazine issued an apology last week, February 24, 2012 for using a photo of an Arizona man, who it turns out is not Latino, on a cover about Latino voting power. The cover used a collage of 24 people, presumably of Hispanic descent. It included a picture of Michael Schennum, who does not identify himself as Latino. The cover is titled: “Yo Decido. Why Latinos Will Pick The Next President.”
Schennum said he was at Arizona State University when an associate photo editor from the magazine approached him, asked him if he was a registered voter and took his photo. Schennum is actually part Norwegian, part Chinese and part Irish. An ethnic mix that some would refer to as Hapa.
Schennum said he was not offended by the article: “I’m just surprised.” And, he said, he understands why the media has made it an issue. “It’s a bit of an error on their part. If they would have asked me, I would have honestly answered, but they didn’t ask me.”
TIME’s response was, “Over the course of three days TIME photographed 151 people for the current cover.” Their statement continued, “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.”
It’s certainly an embarrassment for TIME, but perhaps not one that is too surprising. My own daughter is mixed race, Chinese and Caucasian. I’ve often thought when looking at her that it would be easy to mistake her as someone of Latino descent. I think Schennum got it right when he said “I don’t think it’s a big deal … There’s so many of mixed race people around now… We’re so multicultural these days, it almost doesn’t matter.”