We are the Other - Young Girl Wrapped in Dora the Explorer Blanket, South Minneapolis, MN (2012)
I think the meanings of a photo are the least clear when I’m actually taking it. I was photographing members of Light of Faith and Hope in Jesus Christ, a small storefront church where most, if not all, of the members are Latino. There were a variety of after-the-service-activities that I shot, including a birthday party, a pinata smashing, and basement buffet, before I saw this girl wrapped up in a cartoon character who really resembled her (as much as a real person can look like an oversimplified caricature of a human being).
Over the years I’ve come to realize that I’m attracted to photographing the various ways people are mirrored (or not mirrored) culturally. I’ve never watched any episodes of Dora the Explorer, but when I was growing up there weren’t any Asian cartoon leading characters, so I related to white characters like Jonny Quest and his father Race, rather than his brown exotic sidekick, Hadji.
The World of Disney, I’m sure, had a lot to do in shaping my world and my view of myself. How long did it take to finally have a major cartoon character like Dora that reflected America’s now-minority-but eventual-majority Latino population?
Changing Lenses is the product of an ongoing conversation between eminent sociologist Doug Hartmann, Ph.D. and myself. In each post, we exchange what’s seen behind a camera lens and what’s seen through a sociological lens to get at the diversity of perspectives and cultivate a unique look at the human experience. Below is my perspective. Read Doug’s reaction here.