The photo, leaked over the weekend, has been the subject of heated discussion for days. Shot by Tyler Mitchell, the first and still only black photographer To shoot a cover of Vogue from his stunning portrayal of Beyonc in 2018, the new vice president is pictured in his famous Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers. She wears her street clothes, a dark espresso blazer and black ankle-length pants, and stands in front of a background of pink and green drape in the colors of her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. On his face is the expression of someone who is not quite ready for the camera.
In particular, a replacement, online coverage, widely shared, a Harris in a pale blue suit from the Michael Kors collection, against a lighter gold background. She folds her arms and smiles. She is pretty. It is a much better photograph; it’s no surprise his team would have preferred him.
But in the fashion world, the choice of printed covers is important. And in a world where strong black women are often disparaged as intimidating and un-feminine, the image Vogue has chosen to reduce Harris just as she takes her rightful place in the heights of American power.
It’s frankly shocking that this is the direction taken by the magazine. Considering that Vogue, and the fashion industry as a whole, came under criticism in 2020 for lacking diversity, you’d think major publications would go above and beyond to straighten Harris and his historic rise.
Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour spoke to a reporter Kara swisher and explained that we were all very, very strongly convinced that the less formal portrayal of the Vice President-elect truly reflected the moment we were living in and that a much less formal image, something very, very accessible and accessible, and real , truly reflected the brand of the Biden-Harris campaign.
I wonder if she watched the same campaign as me. The key to Biden-Harris’ victory was not accessibility; it was the powerful antidote they offered to the Trump administration’s incompetence and racism, especially their vow to tackle the double scourge of racist divide and covid-19. We didn’t need to see a diminished, approachable Harris wearing her Chuck Taylors. How about a capable and leading Harris wielding her vice-presidential power? Or something with the breathtaking emotional appeal of suffragist inspiration white pantsuit that Harris wore to celebrate the victory in Wilmington, Del., on November 7?
It wasn’t just a Vogues faux pas with photographing black women, Simone Biles’ recent poorly lit and unflattering cover photos come to mind, but it’s not like taking a good photo. of black women in politics is an impossible task. Vogue himself took stunning cover photos of Michelle Obama and Ethan James Greens 2019 black and white portrait of Stacey Abrams for the magazine was gorgeous. Abrams was dressed in a dark suit and heels. Without smiling, she looks like the modern political general that she is.
What should have been a brilliant, distracting celebration of a barrier-crossing moment has turned into a cause for disappointment, my Post colleague Robin Givhan wrote. As Givhan pointed out, the cover looks like a thief who robbed us of the opportunity to vicariously revel in through the accomplishment of Harris in Black.
Achievement of blacks in white patriarchal power systems is always difficult. Basically, it was Donald Trump who won the presidency after Barack Obama. But in small, incessant and exhausting acts such as magazine photos, we are reminded of a truth about America: Black progress is often followed by negative reactions and diminishing our power and victories.
This is why this punch, intended as such or not, hurts so much. It was a prejudice caused by lightness, a lack of care and attention to the power and significance of the rise of Harriss and what it means to so many women like her. Black women are tired of preparing against evil. All we want is to be adopted for who we are.
Considering that the Capitol has just been attacked by Trumpist insurgents and the FBI warned of threats against herI know the vice president-elect has more to worry about than a magazine cover. But I hope Vogue listens to black women when we say, when we win, give us our due. We deserve to be raised as the powerful and capable leaders that we are.
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