The Black man as a savage beast was first put down on film in the 1915 epic movie “Birth of a Nation.” In the clip you see here an actor in black face is portrayed as the savage buck and chases the innocent white girl into forest. She then leaps to her death to avoid being touched by the savage Black man. This was used to create fear and anger towards Black men. But it didn’t stop there…images like this one have continued on in out culture for decades and we still see it today in the Vogue cover.
Another classic example of this is the darkening of the OJ Simpson photo for Time magazine. The Newsweek cover shows the original photo of OJ and is un-altered. The Time cover is darkened and makes OJ look much more evil and to be feared.
So what can Vogue magazine do now? Vogue needs to come out and make a clear statement. They need to say that they messed up and didn’t realize that the image might be considered offensive. But they also need to make a clear push towards more diversity on their staff and on their magazine pages. If they had a more diverse staff who could have come in and stated that the cover photo was questionable and possibly offensive then they wouldn’t be catching to much heat.
And Vogue should be very mindful that a lot of its readers are African-American. In fact looking at stats on Quantcast.com/vouge.com
you can see that a large portion of the traffic coming to the site is African-American. More so then Whites or Latinos. So Vogue needs to check itself.