The April cover of Vogue, which features NBA star LeBron James and supermodel Gisele Bundchen, is making history and sparking debate. Critics complained that the cover perpetuates racism, while others saw no such thing and said the cover was blown out of proportion.
James is the first black man to appear on the cover of Vogue. Yet, many overlooked this fact and pointed to the way in which James and Bundchen posed. On the cover, James is shown with one hand dribbling a ball and the other around Bundchen’s slim physique. His alter ego on the basketball court, King James, is reflected on his face, which is full of passion as he bares his teeth.
The cover has been taking a lot of hits, because of the belief that it feeds into a stereotype of black men as aggressive and conquering. In addition, the cover has been linked to the image in the 1933 version of the movie “King Kong” in which Fay Wray played a damsel in distress.
“At first I didn’t see anything wrong with it,” said Alnisha Minter-Harris, a Howard University sophomore. “Now I understand why people are upset.”
Harris said there is some type of racial message behind everything in the media. “That’s the way society is today,” she said. “It just goes to show, as much as we think we’re progressing, we’re really not.”
In response to the criticism, Vogue spokesman Patrick O’Connell said in a press release that the magazine “sought to celebrate two superstars at the top of their game.” The April issue is Vogue’s “annual shape issue, dedicated to fashion and fitness for all,” as stated in the magazine. The article discusses the drive and motivation of star athletes and supermodels to succeed as well as their accomplishments and physical assets.
“It’s racist to say that the cover is insensitive to race,” said Adam Kirshon, 26, of Rockville, Md. “People are bringing up an issue that wasn’t even there the first place,” Kirshon said. “They’re solely looking at race and seeing more than what it is and was meant to be. If it was a white man posing like LeBron, there would be no issue.”
James, 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds, told the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, where he plays for the Cavaliers, that he was “just showing a little emotion.”
“The issue of race is a sensitive issue for many Americans these days,” said Lily Cruz, 20, of Alexandria, Va. “If people actually read the article, it may give them a different outlook, but some only see people as white or black and disregard content, which leads to hostility.”