First Black Male EVER to Grace the Cover of Vogue.. Le’ Brawn James

lebron jamesking kong
The popular fashion magazine Vogue made history this month, placing an African American male on its cover for the first time of its illustrious 116 years of publication. The cover of Vogue’s annual “Shape” issue features basketball all-star, Lebron James alongside the beautiful Gisele Bündchen (see exhibit “A” in the upper left hand corner). At first glance I was comfortable with this photo, probably because I am used to seeing images of black males portrayed in this manner. Pick up any Basketball or Hip-Hop magazine, SLAM, XXL, Scratch - they often display images of Black males that exude energy, swagger, anger, even violence, as this photo does. However, this does not seem to be the standard with Vogue. Particularly unnerving in this photo is the drastic stereotypical contrast between the physically dominating, roaring James and the delicate, quaint Gisele - enter the King Kong comparison. This photo resurrects the centuries-old “Birth of a Nation” stereotype of an animalistic dark male and his lilly white female interest. I’m surprised none of the editors at Vogue raised the red flag on this one. They could have done something a little more tasteful, for their first cover featuring an African American male, ever. You don’t open up the league then put Jackie Robinson in minstrel suit! You might think we’re over analyzing this, but Jemele Hill over at ESPN.com makes a great point,

“it’s hard to believe Vogue would have made Brett Favre, Steve Nash or even David Beckham strike his best beast pose.” Read entire article here.

Can I get an Amen!? Inside the Shape Issue, Vogue also featured snowboarder Shawn White, speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and swimmer Michael Phelps, all reserved and looking very stylish despite their professional outfits. Ain’t that some bull?

5 Comments to ‘First Black Male EVER to Grace the Cover of Vogue.. Le’ Brawn James’:

  1. Fredric on 21 Mar 2008 at 10:07 am: 1

    you guys beat me to it!

    i was just discussing this yesterday after i read dwil’s article.

    dwil’s article

    when i first saw the cover, i didn’t think king kong. i was actually in awe of how ginormous my man is. after i read dwil’s comments, i still initially thought ‘hmmm, might be a bit of a stretch’. interestingly, i thought about it some more, discussed it with friends, and agree that it is not only feeding the stereotype, but extremely disappointing.

  2. Chinaedu on 21 Mar 2008 at 5:30 pm: 2

    When I first heard about this cover I was anxious to see how Vogue was going to pull this off. I was pretty disappointed in the Jennifer Hudson cover last year so I wasn’t expecting a miracle. Maybe it’s the Howard University student in me, but I immediately saw the King Kong imagery in the Lebron & Gisele photo. His demanding physical presence is “intimidating,” yet model Gisele seems to be loving it. lol.

  3. focusedpurpose on 22 Mar 2008 at 2:29 am: 3

    hi there-

    all i can say is that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    it is after all the american way.

    blessings,
    focusedpurpose

  4. bore me on 25 Mar 2008 at 11:40 pm: 4

    Wow ……Big black man holding some whitechic… I guess we gotta act like a “monkey” in order to be in a white mans. Oh excuse me. I mean white folks magazine…lol
    come on Hierce..lol. is that all you got? what you lose your Mojo in order to flowjo? lol

  5. martin on 31 Mar 2008 at 5:30 pm: 5

    Not a shock. Speaks to the fact once again why Barack Obama has to present himself as the perfect candidate. America could not handle anything less and this cover demonstrates the “just below the surface” feeling of many whites regarding black people. Wow, this slips right under the radar! Appalling!

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Published on March 20, 2008 at 6:31 pm. 5 Comments.
Filed under fashion, black image.