The Black Man as a Brute in America: Lebron James and Vogue

By Saturday, March 29, 2008 1 No tags Permalink 0

There has been much talk on the net about the Lebron James cover of Vogue. The mag. has been taking a beating for the image of Lebron James and Gisele Bundchen on its cover. Vogue has yet to release a statement about the image. But it goes to show you that there are not African-Americans working at Vogue other then Andre Leon Tally. And he must not have seen the cover or was to stupid to care. But this isn’t something new. Those of us who have studied images of African-Americans in the US during pre and post Jim Crow know this set up all to well. And while the names have changed the images are still the same.

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
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.

1 Comment
  • tim
    April 7, 2008

    I can not say that I saw what you so carefully worded. Yes, I saw black men and I saw a black woman. I saw civil war men who were not black by any other means than there dutie and coming out of the woods. You really messed up the facts because you want the hate to continue. The KKK of the time era was not out to hunt and kill the black man. At the time of depiction in the movie was a different kind of group and later became the dung heep we know today. You made the facts what you wanted then to be. You were wrong. If you really want justice for in-justice, then you must begin with the truth,”MLK”. When I was a boy going up, MLK was a hero and icon in my eyes. People like you have taking that away from me. No doubt there are racist people and the black man or woman is held in bondage. Bondage more of there own making because this country is ment for people who truly want to be free and not self enslaved.

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