I just finished posting my fave Black male style icons and unfortunately have to now add my two and a half cents on the April 2008 American Vogue (with LeBron James and Gisele Bundchen)cover. Ironic isn't it? Maybe those folks at Vogue didn't get the memo that Black men actually do wear clothes that aren't athletic. And look good in them too. Wait a sec. They do know that because James was actually styled wearing suits for this issue as well. Someone just decided to let this foolishness be the cover instead.
NBA star LeBron James and supermodel Gisele Bundchen
What is most disturbing is that I truly don't think Anna or her team did this maliciously. That is how embedded racism can be. Especially in the fashion and publishing worlds. I mean, c'mon -- the man is dribbling a basketball and his mouth is open. Why is his mouth open? The fact that James was shot next to a blonde model was the icing on the cake. Just imagine Eli Manning suited up with a football looking slightly deranged grabbing a glamourous and picture-perfect Naomi Campbell on the cover of Vogue. You can't can you? It doesn't have the same historical connotations but it wouldn't happen in the first place.
Needless to say this cover has been on the lips of many over the past week or so. Robin Givhan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion editor of the Washington Post and a former associate editor at Vogue was asked to comment on it to ABC News recently. I happen to know Robin and greatly respect her career and her work. I've interviewed her before and normally we're on the same page. This time we are not. Apparently, she doesn't see what all the fuss is about. "It's so exhausting that every time people see an image of a Black person they work themselves into a tizzy that somehow it doesn't adhere to the way in which they think a Black person should be presented," she told ABC.
Hmmm. Am I working myself into a tizzy?
After checking the pulse on this matter with a few of my very confident and intelligent co-workers, I concluded that I wasn't tripping. They share my confusion/frustration on this and I was quite objective when asking them about it. So, I am writing my letter to Ms. Wintour today. I wish I knew someone in LeBron's camp because I doubt he realizes the significance of this cover. Celebs don't get to choose their images for mag covers so he probably had no idea this shot would be the cover. I am sure the 23 year old was estatic to be the first Black man to appear on the cover of what is arguably the world's top fashion publication.
This is monumental alright.
What are you feeling on this? Leave a comment, please!