Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dora's an illegal alien?

Posted By on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 11:13 AM

WTF? Let's hope this chica gets her papers in order before Sue Myrick tracks her down.

Representatives from Nickelodeon declined to comment on Dora's background, and her place of birth or citizenship have never been clear. She has brown skin, dark hair and some experts who have studied the show say she speaks Spanish with an American accent."She's always been ambiguously constructed," said Angharad Valdivia, who teaches media studies at the University of Illinois and has explored the issue. "In the U.S. the way we understand race is about putting people in categories and we're uncomfortable with people we can't put into categories."

Dora lives in an unidentified location with pyramids that suggest Mexico, but also tropical elements such as palm trees and her friends, Isa the iguana and Boots the monkey. Does that mean she's from South America or Florida?

Then there's oak trees and her fox nemesis Swiper, which are more common to the American Midwest.

The show often plays Salsa-like music, which has some roots in Cuba and is popular across Latin America.

Even the voice actresses behind Dora don't provide insight.

The original Dora voice belonged to Kathleen Herles, whose parents are from Peru. Dora is currently voiced by actress Caitlin Sanchez, a New Jersey-born teen who calls herself Cuban American; her grandparents are Cuban.

The images have been used on all sides of the immigration reform debate.

Many immigrant families, particularly Latinos, see Dora as a symbol of freedom, someone to relate to. She's a young girl with brown skin who lives in a borderless world and can travel anywhere she wants without consequence.

"It's symbolic of the way many Latinos live ambiguously in the United States," said Nicole Guidotti-Hernandez who teaches gender studies at the University of Arizona. "It's a shorthand for claiming our lives in the United States, especially for children."

At the same time, Guidotti-Hernandez says the ambiguity and negative imagery makes Dora susceptible to being used by those who support the Arizona law.

As for the mug shot, it's been around since late last year, when Debbie Groben of Sarasota, Fla., created it and entered it in a contest for the fake news site FreakingNews.com.

Read more at MSNBC.com.

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