Bloomberg Businessweek published a vile, racist cover this week, featuring a crazed African-American family taking advantage of “The Great American Housing Rebound.” Matthew Yglesias at Slate was the first to write about it:
The idea is that we can know things are really getting out of hand since even nonwhite people can get loans these days! They ought to be ashamed.
And David Ferguson at The Raw Story does his usual good work on this:
The Feb. 21 Businessweek cover depicts four people, all people of color, in a house that is awash in a flood of money. The “father” is barefoot and leering, depicted as an African-American, leaning out a window to clutch at a stream of dollar bills. The “mother” figure has brown skin and cartoonish, oversized lips. Upstairs we see a black boy and a Hispanic teenage girl, each grotesquely caricatured and shown reclining on big piles of money. All of the characters are grabbing for money while talking on cell phones or Bluetooth devices. Even the family cat, floating on a pillow in a sea of money downstairs, is depicted as black.
Noting that “we still can’t decide what’s most offensive about it: the caricature of the busty, sassy Latina, the barefooted black man waving cash out his window, that woman in the upstairs left-hand corner who looks about as dim-witted as her dog?,” Emily Badger at The Atlantic writes:
The last housing crash, as we’ve written before, was characterized by a kind of reverse-redlining that disproportionately targeted minorities – a reality to which Businessweek’s cover seems entirely tone-deaf. But the most perplexing part of the whole affair is the fact that the magazine’s cover – and the story insinuated by it – bears no relation to the actual articlecontained inside (which has a notably less sexy headline online: “A Phoenix Housing Boom Forms, in Hint of U.S. Recovery”). That piece makes no mention of the racial dynamics of the housing market, or the role of predatory lending.
“As Columbia Journalism Review says, it fits in nicely with other racist memes such as the ACORN (non) scandal, the ‘food stamp President’ idiocy and the ‘Obamaphone’ malarkey,” T. Steelman at Addicting Info reports:
The CJR’s Ryan Chittum goes on to note:
“In fact, though, the record is clear: minorities were disproportionately targeted by predatory lending, which has always gone hand in hand with subprime. Even when they qualified for prime loans that similar-circumstance whites got, they were pushed into higher-interest subprimes. In other words, minority borrowers were disproportionately victimized in the bubble. But BusinessWeek here has them on the cover bathing in housing-ATM cash, implying that they’re going to create another bubble.”
A statement by the artist, Andres Guzman, was given to Matt Yglesias of Slate and passed along by Chittum:
“The assignment was an illustration about housing. I simply drew the family like that because those are the kind of families I know. I am Latino and grew up around plenty of mixed families.”
Fine and dandy. But the problem here isn’t with the artist.
“Our cover illustration last week got strong reactions, which we regret,” Josh Tyrangiel, the magazine’s editor, wrote in a statement sent to POLITICO. “Our intention was not to incite or offend. If we had to do it over again we’d do it differently.”
Hopefully, a lot differently.
Not much of an apology.
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