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Published:May 16th, 2008 07:23 EST
Vogue Strategy: Derived from a Discourse of minstrelsy and slavery?

Vogue Strategy: Derived from a Discourse of minstrelsy and slavery?

By Cherod Johnson

Being that this is the first time that an African American male have ever appeared on Vogue, it is demeaning and problematic that he would be depicted as a dangerous man. Portraying Lebron like King Kong, a big ape that lacks intellectual skills, cast him into an inferior position because it visualized him as having more body than mind. Alike King Kong, Lebron is also portrayed as figure that cannot be trusted or hold his anger because he can easily turn on someone. This demeaning image, indeed, visualize him as a “threat” to society. Magazine analyst, Samir Husni, also believes that the photo was deliberately provocative, adding that it “screams King Kong.” “Covers are not something that the magazine does in a rush.” “So when you have a cover that reminds people of King Kong and brings those stereotypes to the front, black man wanting white women it’s not innocent,” according to Megan K. Scott, author of the article “Lebron James’ Vogue cover causes controversy.” In other words, Lebron overly aggressive look and Gisele innocent look seems to correlate too easily with that of King Kong holding the innocent white women that trembles with fear.

Moreover, this single image also brings forth the notions of beauty. For centuries, beauty has been associated with whiteness. Historically, being light-skin or white, thin, and having straight hair was also associated with being considered as beautiful. Norma Manatu, author of the article, “Cultural Impact of Film’s Imaging on Black Women,” also highlight how notions of beauty were often associated with white or high yellow women. Manatu states, “In the general media, black boys, like all boys in the U.S., are confined to a limited of the feminine in a way that concentrates and focuses on white or light skin color as model” (91). In other words, light skin women are often constructed within the media as the ideal beautiful women. Therefore, it is psychology embedded within people’s mind to believe that a certain type, “light skin” or white, is the beauty model that someone should desire to be like or with.

Too often, the representation of the societal and cultural images of black manhood within the mass media has been rooted in “negative-stereotypical” portrayals that are derived from a discourse of minstrel shows and slavery. Throughout a extended period of analyzing texts including the vogue cover that include the representations of African American males within the mainstream media, this is certain for black masculinity: African American men have had to contend with their inability to be patriarchic figures and escape the perceived thought of having more body than mind. These are a historical set of ideologies that derive from a historical white strategy to lock African Americans into an inferior position to maintain power. These mythical and stereotypical images that originated out of the Jim Crow era about African American males the tom, coon and buck characters are negative stereotypical images of African American males that continue to flourish and be exploited within our society. Perhaps, why is it that these images continue to exist and flood our society? Is it because our society that has failed to separate themselves from buying into the repetition of slavish images? Or is it because people continue to believe in the myths and stereotypes about certain cultures?