Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Does This Make You Angry?

OK, OK, by now I'm sure many of you have seen and/or heard of NBA basketball player LeBron James and Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen "gracing" the April 2008 cover of Vogue magazine.


Well, after the release of the cover (left photo), online magazine and blog sites such as and and even Chicago's leading newspaper, The Chicago Tribune, are recognizing that it depicts undertones of racism. According to, "James strikes what some see as a gorilla-like pose, barring his teeth, with one hand dribbling a ball and the other around Bundchen's tiny waist."

And folks, where else have we seen this grusome image before? You've guessed it, from the 1933 film King Kong, which features the infamous King Kong himself and the helpless and frail Fay Wray.

However, "King James" is the fourth African-American, third man, and the first African-American man to appear on the cover of the magazine and Vogue's spokesperson Patrick O'Connell told The Chicago Tribune that the magazine "sought to celebrate two superstars at the top of game for the magazine's annual issue devoted to size and shape."

As a result of the whole thing, many blacks are pullin' the "race card" and angered over Vogue's decision to choose the "King Kong photo" versus the "more civilized photo" (right photo) for its cover.

And I am no different. Like many others, I recognize that these things do not happen by accident and that there is an underlying race issue in the choice of photo, BUT after reading a response by FOX Sports critic Jason Whitlock, I have less sympathy for the situation and have asked myself, "If Lebron, Charles Barkley, Dennis Rodman, and any other black professional athlete who has appeared on covers of magazines (and any other medium) do not mind being used as puppets to portray the sterotypical dangerous, animalistic, savage, criminal, aggressive, threatening and beastly black man, then why in the hell should I?"

You see, we seem to have forgotten about Barkley's March 2002 cover of Sports Illustrated in shackles and chains and Rodman's December 1996 cover of Rolling Stone with horns thrusting out of his head.

We seem to have forgotten that according to Whitlock, "The photographer captured James exactly as he is...covered in tattoos...and mimicking a death-row immate."

Oh yeah, and we also seem to not have thought that maybe we would not be upset if the same photo appeared on the cover of a black magazine with "King James" and a black woman. (The same way we do not get upset when watching black women being degraded in our own music videos and song lyrics, but wait, I've covered that before haven't I?)

I mean, come on I've asked the issue really the degradation or the source of it?


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