Annie Leibovitz Thugs Out Tiger Woods for Vanity Fair Cover: Disseminating Negative “Black” Images

Vanity Fair magazine has bumped Emma Watson (Harry Potter) from its February cover in favor of Tiger Woods. Considering his public fall from grace that’s not surprising. More than 300 magazines failed in 2009 and ad revenue is more precious than gold these days. Despite the vitriol Woods is receiving there’s still great interest in him.

Courtesy Annie Leibovitz/People Magazine

Woods had a near-mythological public persona and the revelation of his mass dysfunction has been fascinating – albeit disgusting. The timing of this cover is of course suspect but since VF already had an article why would anyone be surprised they’d bump it to cover status? It was a business decision. The accompanying photos were shot by Annie Leibovitz in 2006. Knowing her history of deploying racial stereotypes one should not be surprised by her choice to show Woods in such a manner.

Let’s be clear though, this isn’t about Leibowitz and her (use of ) racism. She, like David La Chapelle and many white photographers love depicting black males in negative archetypes or as sexual fantasies. Robert Mapplethorpe comes to mind. Remember the Vogue cover with Lebron James and Giselle Bundchen that reflected King Kong? It was recreated to a lesser extent by Kanye West and Lady Gaga in a shoot last month. Nor is this about Tiger Woods as victim. Honestly, I could. care. less.

This is about Woods’ choice to ALLOW himself to be depicted in such a stereotypical manner for the approval of whites. Most of us have figured out he is a self-hating Negro of minor black heritage. Yet he can’t claim ignorance of the larger picture when he’s clearly chosen to be anything but black. He laughed off the “joke” of a white female commentator from The Golf Channel when she suggested he be “taken out in the back and lynched” after all. So please resist the urge to fight for the po’ black man!

I’m writing this because some black women are still not connecting the dots in a way that will be of benefit to them. Woods offers nothing to black women and doesn’t deserve any sympathy. The photo of him shirtless, with a blank (potentially menacing) look, wearing a skull cap and lifting weights is a depiction of a thug. It’s a look you’d find easily in any number of hip-hop videos. It depicts a certain class (bottom) and reinforces a negative mindset of criminality. It’s the grittier cousin to the constant glorification of the pimp.

Do we need to go over why pimps are NOT to be celebrated either? They are CRIMINALS. They exploit young girls for sex. A THUG is not someone to look up to! Considering the number of black males killing each other why would posing a world-class athlete and billionaire as a common street criminal be anything but an absolute insult to black people everywhere?!

Vanity Fair magazine’s demographic includes a substantial contingent of educated, upper class whites who likely consider themselves open-minded. So this is another example of liberal/hipster racism. Woods is equally complicit  – especially considering the photos were taken BEFORE his whoring was revealed. So one has to ask why he would CHOOSE to depict himself as a stereotypical black male criminal except it was another example of his extreme disdain for blacks and blackness. He hates it but he’s fascinated by it all the same.

Considering these photos have been released AFTER his sexual deviance has been revealed makes it more unsavory. Since some blacks are still CONFUSED about this because they are so USED to seeing the thug image reinforced they don’t understand they are being insulted. That is the responsibility of those blacks who’ve hijacked our image with such base depictions and those who’ve ignored and even defended its use. All of those arguments about creative expression and how something more positive would come along to combat the negativity are moot! It didn’t happen. Things are so bad now it’s too late to change course. It also goes hand in hand with black woman denigration and violence.

Not ALL blacks have grown up in “da hood”. Some of us cringe at the portrayal of blacks as the lesser-thans, the problem children, the downtrodden and the disturbed. Ignoring the way our image is being disseminated is just as dangerous as not discussing solutions to previous dysfunction. Since I have a subscription the Editor will be getting a piece of my mind and a cancellation notice. The only reason why I have a subscription to begin with is because it’s less expensive than buying the 2-3 newsstand copies I’d pick up over the course of a year. I will not PAY someone else to SLAP ME ACROSS THE FACE.

I am reminded in 2010 that the war against the educated class of blacks is in full effect and aimed squarely at black women. This isn’t a difference of opinion. It’s an attack aimed at devaluing the still-thriving members of the collective through witting accomplices. Can you name the last issue of Vanity Fair that had a black person on its cover?


8 Replies to “Annie Leibovitz Thugs Out Tiger Woods for Vanity Fair Cover: Disseminating Negative “Black” Images”

  1. Wow Dang Tiger!…..All he needs now is a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and holding a 40….lol!

  2. I don't care that he is being shown as a thug. He acts like an animal and I guess they feel free to show him like one. Tiger can forget about getting any help from the so called Black community as he didn;t follow their rules about how he should identify himself. He hasn't suggested that he wants their help anyway. He decided to embrace his whole racial identity instead of just his black heritage. I'll give him this….he isn't asking for the black community's help and they aren't offering. This is a lesson they are trying to teach….play by our rules or when you 'need' us we won't be there. As a BW i have a hard enough time fighting to bad and improper images shown og BW. When BM start fighting for a better image for us then I guess I can get up in arms about their bad image.

  3. "I am reminded in 2010 that the war against the educated class of blacks is in full effect and aimed squarely at black women."

    Yeah. I agree. I left a comment on WOAD, and in summary:

    "It’s piecemeal gerrymandering, to ensure we don’t align ourselves with power structures related to our Blackness, our gender, or our successes."

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