'Vanity Fair' Features Kerry Washington on Its Cover. Finally.
The August 2013 issue of Vanity Fair will feature Scandal star Kerry Washington, to which I responded, “Look Mama, we made it!”
My fanaticism might seem a bit much, but anyone who has seen just a few issues of the magazine will quickly notice an insidious pattern: African-Americans are markedly absent from Vanity Fair's covers. And leaf through one issue to find the magazine is like a round of Where’s Waldo?. We are marginalized — literally tucked into gatefolds and pushed off center in group shots. (Just see the last two Young Hollywood issues of Vanity Fair, which featured African-Americans... but only if you turn the page.)
The irony is that this is a publication that touts its progressive ideals while simultaneously barring black women from the front-cover privilege afforded to white women. As reported by Jezebel, it’s been six years since Vanity Fair had a black woman on the cover, and eight since a black woman had a cover to herself. Very forward-thinking.
But this isn’t just about Vanity Fair. It’s about the machine that is mainstream media. From the underexposure of black women in, well, every outlet imaginable, you would think we were still in the fields. We may have been emancipated, but we are still being symbolically oppressed. The underrepresentation of our demographic in media does not just discount our identity. It renders us virtually invisible. It intimates that we don't matter. And how can the world be expected to think otherwise if they don't see us?