LeBron Kong Attacks!

Why it still hurts to see a white woman draped across a teeth-baring black man.


And when he get on he leave your ass for a white girl.

–Kanye West

I’ve spent the day hugged up with Vogue — staring into its beset April cover featuring athlete LeBron James and android Giselle Bundchen, and trying hard not to be numb.

I’m trying to brush off the fact that the first black man ever pictured on the magazine’s cover is not gracing it, he’s debased by it. They’re trying to dismiss the recent calls of racial insensitivity as hypersensitivity. And we’re trying to explain why seeing a big black man baring his teeth whilst an alabaster damsel drapes his side still hurts us in 2008.

People justifying the cover choice have scoffed at complaints that the pose conjures up the crudest King Kong symbolism. But Phillip Atiba Goff, assistant professor of psychology at Penn State University, recently conducted a study on the use of animalistic imagery in relation to black men. Titled, “Not Yet Human: Implicit Knowledge, Historical Dehumanization and Contemporary Consequences,” the study, published recently by the American Psychological Association, asserts that “subtle metaphors” connecting black men and apes can go unnoticed but still have “great effect.”

“They penetrate our unconscious,” said Goff, “and they end up sort of powerfully influencing our behaviors.”


An eerie echo?

The country vacillates, he explained, between being too afraid to discuss racism and race to simply ignoring the problem. America suffers simultaneously, he explained, from “racial hysteria” and “historical amnesia.”