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Tu Vez Blast-From-The-Past Truck: Dora The Explorer

Marty McFly and Doc Brown had the Delorean to go travel through time; We have the Tu Vez Blast-From-The-Past Truck. Every week, we’ll hop in our time traveling machine, gun it to 88 MPH, and go back in time to bring you the best from the good ol’ days. Will it be a clip from an old telenovela? An old school music video? Stick around and find out!

By Jack Tomas

There weren’t a lot of Latino characters in children’s programming when I was a kid. Other than Luis and Maria on “Sesame Street” and Speedy Gonzalez, it was pretty much gringolandia in kiddieland. Later, they added Latino characters to those P.C. cartoons with multi-cultural friends, but even then they didn’t get any respect. Seriously, Mati on “Captain Planet” had the power of heart. What the hell does that even mean? The Latino kids of today are much luckier than we were, because they have Dora.

Dora the Explorer, (which rhymes only if you pronounce it like mayor Quimby from “The Simpsons”), is the first Latina protagonist of an American cartoon series. Dora is…well…an explorer. In every episode, she and her monkey friend Boots travel around the world in search of something or other. Maybe it’s an Egyptian artifact or an ancient Mayan statue. Along the way, she instructs the kids in geography, history, and about other cultures. Dora also teaches the kids simple words and phrases in Spanish, which is something all kids in the U.S. can benefit from learning. It’s not done in a pedantic way, but rather trying to engage the kids in helping her solve the mysteries she’s investigating. The bad guy is a devious fox named Swiper that tries to steal stuff from Dora and her friends. He’s the kind of guy that gives Latinos a bad name.

Dora is HUGE. In my mom’s pediatric office, Dora is the #1 most requested post-shot sticker. The show gets enormous ratings and there are 15 different versions of the show in several languages. There is an all Spanish version of the show that airs on Univision. While every kid can enjoy Dora, her greatest impact is on Latino kids, girls in particular. For the first time they can see themselves on TV, not as a ghetto child, but as a smart and courageous explorer. Media helps shape our reality. My hope is that in 20 years there will be a rash of Latina archaeologists, anthropologists, and sociologists that were first inspired by Dora.

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