vanity fair no people of color racism

It’s a Vanity Fair magazine tale as old as time. All year long the men and women of Hollywood, many of them people of color, work hard to produce award worthy projects. Then Vanity Fair comes along to choose the cream of the crop for their annual Hollywood Issue. The list reads like a very well-known ‘who’s who,’ featuring the likes of Halle Berry, Ben Affleck and more, yet when it comes to the cover it seems only the cream of a certain color make the cut.

They try to appease the darker half with a spot on the cover’s gatefold (the part that folds into the magazine), but we all know that being seen on the actual cover, the one that will be seen on newsstands across the globe, is the only section that carries real weight. So once again, Vanity Fair dims the light that is Hollywood’s colored actors and actresses for another year and we are left to wonder, again … what the hell is the deal?

Since this isn’t the first time this has happened you would think that when Vanity Fair released the cover for its 19th annual Hollywood Issue, a circus-themed portfolio called “Bruce Weber’s Adventures in Hollywood,” we wouldn’t be left with a bad taste in our mouths. But alas, when the magazine revealed Ben Affleck, Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone as the cover stars, with youngest-ever best-actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis and Kerry Washington regulated to the cover’s gatefold wasteland, that taste was as fresh and rank as ever.

But should we care?

vanity fair cover 2013

Clearly Vanity Fair sees nothing wrong with how they present the “best” of Hollywood to the world and I guess we can and should be proud that Vanity Fair chose to recognize the talent of people of color at all considering that there are so many media outlets that would rather pretend our talents don’t exist.

But still, it’s upsetting that the magazine makes an obviously conscious decision to keep people of color off the cover. The first time might have been an oversight, second and third, a mistake, but by the time you hit nineteen it is clearly a planned decision. Every year we get up in arms about the lack of melanin on the cover and every year we are ignored, so with the release of this latest issue one has to ask themselves if it’s worth fighting about anymore.

Vanity Fair is only one magazine; for every rebuff, there are several others out there who have no problems with putting Kerry Washington on the cover, front, center and in all her Scandalous glory. Perhaps if Vanity Fair doesn’t want to fully support talented people of color, maybe we should stop supporting them. Stop buying their issues and talking about their features. Starting with the end of this piece right here, and starting right now.

  • Alyssa

    Besides the lack of diversity on the cover…the cover itself is just terrible. Are they in bed? But dressed up? It’s just awkward. Emma Stone looks pissed, Ben Affleck looks bored and Bradley Cooper is the only one who looks excited. I can’t believe that was the best picture they took….

    The other pictures that didn’t make the cover are so stunning! Plus, Kerry Washington had a way more standout year than Emma Stone. Vanity Fair definitely got it wrong…again.

  • ASK_ME

    Nope, I don’t care. I highly doubt the masses of black people in this country read Vanity Fair…there is nothing to fight about here. Side note: I always thought Ben Affleck was cute.

  • mikey kun

    Sigh, I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel. I mean on one end Vanity Fair has shown time and time again it’s not a magazine for people of color. Plus I don’t read it so everytime this annual hollywood issue comes out and I don’t see anyone black on the MAIN main cover I’m just go “eh”.

    But then there’s the other end, where I would be so happy to see a person (perfer a black woman) on the annual hollywood issue Main main cover. There’s Kerry, Viola, Quvenzhané, Octivia, Zoe Kravis to name a few.

    It’s rare we see a Black actress on the cover of a white magazine unless they are Halle, and it’s getting on my nerves but I have a feeling it’s just going to go on so I will to.

  • mikey kun

    you’re right normally they do a group pic with all the stars together, this looks like a bad scrap book

  • Alaina L Lewis

    And they tired butts KNOW lil Quvenzhané Wallis should be sitting in Emma Stone’s spot. FOR REAL!

  • Alaina L Lewis

    OR Kerry Washington. ANYONE but Emma Stone!

  • J. Nicole

    Are white people complaining they aren’t on the cover of Essence or Jet? I doubt it. Not that there *should* be segregated publications, but thats pretty much the case. I used to, years ago be subscribed to InStyle, Glamour & the like until I realized, these people clearly aren’t marketing towards me, so why support them? If Vanity Fair has proven they couldn’t care less, why should we? We’re worrying about magazine that doesn’t represent us, instead of the ones that do.

  • rkahendi

    Honestly, I don’t read Vanity Fair. I would probably flip through the pages if I found a copy in my doctor’s or dentist’s waiting area and there was nothing else meaningful to do. But that’s about it. So I don’t really care who’s on the cover.

  • binks

    Agreed! I don’t know to many people my age (mid-20s) who read Vanity Fair as a first option. I haven’t remember the last time I picked up a copy so honestly I don’t care. And I am sick and tired of the begging and protesting, if you want to see a change on the cover let your pocket and black balling them speak for you.

  • Catpopstar

    Its obvious that they do not care at this point. Well, they’re not getting any of my money nor do they want it. Its win-win.

  • Friday Foster

    Many have complained. Vanity Fair has been taken to task for leaving out POC in this issue for years.

  • AM

    I’m currently looking for my two phakks to give, should you happen to find them, please return to owner. Mucho gracias.

  • KGA25

    I don’t give two f#cks about Vanity Fair!!

  • janschild

    No, so not caring.

  • Carolyn Denise Lindsey-Grobes

    Whomever made that decision is stupid. Why cut out part of a market you could capture by making sure you represented EVERYONE on the cover? Don’t be fooled , black people spend money reading too.They better start marketing to anyone they can,now that you can read online, on your Kindles and IPads, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll have to stop printing and go electronic THEN you’re going to need the very readers you don’t bother to market to now. Trust me, you’re not going to interest people in you being so white washed.

  • Apple Pie

    It’s their magazine. They created it so they decide who goes on and who doesn’t.

  • Apple Pie

    Let Essence or Vibe put her on their cover. Why Vanity Fair put a little black girl in place of their own?? Emma Stone is White, and the makers of Vanity Fair are as well. They don’t owe Queshawnshawn nothing.

  • Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen


  • SayWhat

    I’m possed, but not surprised. The best quote I read was to the effect of ‘go where you are celebrated, not tolerated’. That is what black people have to start/continue doing.

  • kenzy

    answer to do you care…..NO

  • Whatever

    @J. Nicole

    Exactly! There were comments on here not too long ago with black women asking “who still even reads Essence, Ebony and Jet?” I do, and I know plenty of other black women that do as well because that’s where we’re represented. Not to say you can’t read other publications, but I will not throw the black ones under the bus because we are underrepresented elsewhere.

    I’m not going to find an article about a black doctor who is researching an aggressive breast cancer in West Africa that mostly affects black women (worldwide) in ANY other popular women’s magazine. You will however find 50 million articles spread across Marie Claire, Allure, Vanity Fair etc about Melanoma which mostly affects white women. Sometimes we just need our own ish!

  • Elegance

    I hate to say this but Ben Affleck is an Oscar winner and nominee. Bradley Cooper was named People Magazine’s sexiest man of the year (not that I think so) but that makes him popular and he is nominated for an Oscar. I’m not sure about what Emma Stone has done this year but I think she’s popular or something, but for sure, she has had many leading roles in big films.

    Sorry, but as much as I love that little girl Wallis, that was her first movie. But she is still in the magazine as part of the cover. You have to also take into account that the cover people probably have great agents and money to fight for covers and Ms. Wallis probably doesn’t have that. As much as I love Kerry Washington, she has only become super popular recently, but again, she is still part of the cover. Black people shouldn’t be looking to White publications to help them out because all they care about is money and their own image.

    I think it would be great to put everyone on the cover. But I also think, who buys magazines anymore anyway? Because of the internet, whoever people write about can be made popular and mainstream publications don’t matter much to me at all. If this cover wasn’t mentioned here I would not have even known about it.

  • The Artist

    Is Vanity Fair still relevant? They’re sales could sure benefit from people of color. You snooze you lose. I guess this is what happens when most of the people calling the shots are white.

  • rando

    Not even a little bit. Black people can recognize black achievement in black magazines. We don’t need the permission and validation of white publications.

  • Marketing Gimmicks

    This isn’t anything new.The culture of power will always gratify itself and they aren’t interested in “giving” power away. The intention has never been about inclusion, diversity and leveling the playing field. That is our values. This is why we always have to come up with creative ways to kick the door in or make our own Clutch, Ebony, Essence, Vibe, NAACP…well you get my point.

  • anon

    I don’t care…there will always be one group excluding another. I stopped crying and having sympathy for blacks who get alienated and ostracized by whites. 9 times out of 10, those same blacks will do the same thing, for whatever reason, to people of their own race.

    Especially elitist blacks, why should I feel sorry for those who look down on others?

  • Beautiful Mic

    The one’s who are stupid are the whiners. They need to start their own magazines. The only reason they are whining is because the white magazines reach a broader market which translates into more dollars these stars. They could care less, otherwise. It’s not about race, but about economics.

    Who cares? Let them pool together their resources and pursue those same markets, and but themselves and their cronies on the cover. Many black stars go hard caping for corporate American interests and social ideals, to the detriment of their community, and sucking up to the white powerfuls to get into and keep their place. Then, they have the nerve to shocked? Why should being on that cover be so damn valuable?

    Piss on them!

  • Beautiful Mic

    Exactly, the whiners should create their own…

  • Beautiful Mic

    The ones rejected, complaining, those same types would tell any black person who whines about misrepresentation/exploitation/bias in any aspect of black representation in the media or society to get up and do something about it. Start your own…

    We’ll that’s what they need to do? What the hell do they expect? Isn’t whining a sign of laziness?

  • Mr. Man

    Personally I don’t care one bit. However the fact of the matter is that lil Miss Q.W. should really be on the cover front and center of most all mags right now post Oscars. Fact is, SHE made Hollywood history. She’s the big deal, she did something no one else did ever in Hollywood, THAT should be celebrated and placed front and center on the face of all things hollywood right now. I bet if this was Dakota Fanning with this nod years ago she would have had solo shots on every mag on the stand…Think about it..

  • Ravi


  • Erin

    I don’t buy or read Vanity Fair. I like Ben Affleck, I like Emma Stone, and Bradley Cooper is a fahn white man! I don’t care at all. EVERYTHING doesn’t have to be a race issue.

  • apple

    whats new?
    i mean with a name like Vanity “Fair” .. why are we so surprised

  • Blue

    I don’t buy their magazine so, no I don’t care.

  • Barbara

    Is it just me, or do I see the head of a black Gorilla on the cover? Emma Stone’s left hand is resting on the top of the Gorilla’s head. Is this suppose to represent a Black man? Are they sending a settle message by doing this?

  • The Other Jess

    ummm…ok….that’s a bears head! you’re seeing what you want to see. smh

  • The Other Jess

    who cares?

  • The Other Jess

    my bad…i see no that’s a gorrila head. But still….who cares?

  • GlowBelle

    Naw, I’m not mad. I expect this kind of stuff, esp. from Vanity Fair. I don’t let that kind of ‘they are ignoring us again!’ crap get under my skin. Sure it would be great to see a variety (heck they even recycle the same white celebs on covers!), but we don’t need VF validating us and I don’t even read the magazine and probably never will. I’m just surprised that they actually have some people on the cover who are alive as VF is notorious for always having dead celebrities on their cover (and it’s ALWAYS Marilyn Monroe).

    Also Quvenzhané Wallis made one of Entertainment Weekly’s front covers…and VF having kids on their cover is pretty rare. It’s a editorial fashion mag for adults, why would they have a child on the cover? Wallis has plenty of time to make magazine covers. Let’s remember that Ms. Wallis is young and has just started out, she’s gotta make some more movies, prove that the nomination she got, while historical, isn’t her last. Actually Essence and Ebony should be honoring her, but even THEY have problems recycling the same celebs on their mag covers. Heck, Clutch didn’t start talking about Wallis until she got nominated…

  • Barbara

    @The Other Jess

    NO, you are wrong Jess. ..The Bear’s head is to the left of the photo. Look to the right of the Photo; you will see the Photo I speak of. It’s not my imagination!! Emma stone’s left hand is resting on top of the Gorilla’s head.

    Look at the Photo that is “BELOW” the article, and you will see it. You can’t see it in the Photo that’s “ABOVE” the story. You only see the Bear in the Photo above.

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  • Rupert Murdoch

    who really cares, we have our own magazines to purchase

  • C. Edwards

    I wrote a letter to the editor of VF years ago complaining about the lack of representation of people of color on the magazine’s cover. At a time when Will Smith was the BIGGEST MOVIE STAR IN THE WORLD, VF was featuring nascent white actors, of whom I had not ever heard (Colin Ferrell springs to mind). I threatened then to quit the magazine and didn’t. Flash forward a decade later and nothing has changed. Except they now have one less subscriber. Me. I think the publication is a travesty of obvious, serial exclusion and I will NEVER read it again. As for the post “everything isn’t always about race”, try being African American or Hispanic for a day in America and you will quickly discover that, unfortunately, in this country, it usually is.

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  • Apple Pie

    One thing you are forgetting is that Dakota Fanning and the others are WHITE. White people look out for their own. Not to mention they OWN the publishing company and Vanity Fair. They even own Essence. They can choose who they want on their covers and who they don’t.

    @ C. Edwards

    How about you write to Essence or Vibe telling them those things? Let them put Quveshanezhane on their covers instead of always featuring those ghetto “housewives” and booty vixens and rappers. Why do Blacks feel entitled to what whites have? Create your own and stop waiting for a handout. Stop crying all the time. It makes us sound weak.

  • Tara

    There’s nothing new under the sun. It’s been this way and it may always be this way. This is why people of color have to continue to support publications that celebrate diversity.

    Mainstream media is not going to show us love, so we have to make sure we are showing each other love. Support Essence, support Ebony, support Latina. It’s a shame that when I hit the newsstand, I have to dig behind Cosmo and Glamour in order to get my monthly Essence. However, it’s worth knowing that I can read a magazine with a beautiful and talented person of color on the front page.

  • Mrs. Jones

    ummmm…ok….it’s a GORILLA HEAD, as Bradley’s wearing a gorilla suit. So I guess Barbara’s seeing…what’s actually THERE.

  • Mrs. Jones

    How is starting our own magazine the answer to being excluded from mainstream media?! So, if a person of color actually LIKES reading VF, instead of wanted to be included in their representation of “the best of Hollywood,” they should go off and start their own? It is VERY much about race and asking to be included in an established publication that has been around for a long time is in NO WAY bowing down to white folks and currying favor.

    If we followed your logic, then we should get our own Fortune 500 companies (since they hate hiring us), our own government (since they don’t want us representing them – PLEASE don’t bring up Obama, it’s bigger than him), shoot, we should get our own COUNTRY ‘cuz they sure as hell don’t want us here. WHY should be bother begging the man for equality when we can just go somewhere else and make our OWN? smh

  • Icis

    If you’re up in arms bout Vanity Fair, then might as well be up in arms about almost every magazine out there that isn’t a “black” interest publication. I’ve been tracking covers for a while now (since 2002), and ever since Obama was elected the number of black people on the cover of mainstream magazines has diminished. For now you can guarantee that Beyonce and RiRi will get annual (that’s only one a year folks!) covers with most magazines (mostly women’s fashion or music), The President & The First Lady once a year close to reelection time, and a sprinkling of other black celebs with no real consistency (and it has to be a big big high profile event if they do get the cover!), but that’s really it. If you want things to change, you will have to make it a point to become involved on staff with the media producing the magazines and encourage that more young black people go into mainstream journalism. Power at the desk has power over the images we see.

  • Justin (@thisjustin415)

    Yeah.. They only place the “white hot” celebs on cover of their “fair” magazines. Nothing discriminatory about that, only “celebratory”.

  • bsbfankaren

    Who do you consider “we”? I purchase Vanity Fair, therefore it is my magazine and I happen to be black. I care.

  • bsbfankaren

    So in order for us to make the cover, the magazine has to be “”black” interest”? Nothing is going to change as long as the magazine believes people will overlook the slight. Then again, if people of color refused to be a part of a cover shoot in which they know they are likely not to actually be on the cover, perhaps the magazine would make a change?

  • bsbfankaren

    Oh, so the magazine cover is a celebration of white hotness? O.K. Perhaps someone should have informed those who posed for the portion of the “cover” that ended up on the inside of the magazine.

  • Thisjustin

    1. You mean people of color? You know, not just “black people.
    2.Your assumption is an ignorant generalization (kinda racisty aftertaste).
    3. You don’t know how many people of color read it, nor how many more would if there were an equitable dipiction/ reflection

    <3 ya anyhow!

  • Denise Johnson

    Got admit, they’re consistent…

  • C. Edwards

    Crying? Over VF? Please. I didn’t shed a tear. Nor do I think inclusion/representa- tion of a rainbow nation in a melting pot country is a hand-out. No worries though. Non-exclusion at some point will simply become bad business and VF will either capitulate to the new normal or fold. I couldn’t care less if it does, which is why I no longer subscribe. Trust me, I am much more interested in the macro vision.

    Also, as the content of VIBE is decidedly not age appropriate for “Q.”, I wouldn’t write its editor about putting her or any other CHILD on its cover, regardless of ethnicity. Have a point of view, Pie, but please don’t make specious comments to shore up an angle that holds no water.

  • Ricika

    The whole cover is actually a mess. The Ben Affleck, etc. part doesn’t look like it goes with the scrapbook part. I would have actually liked the scrapbook look if it was consistent across the whole cover. It’s really weird to have all the Black people (and that guy in the top hat) in those pictures that look like a pieced together afterthought, and behind the fold to boot. It’s like some weird Jim Crow cover.

  • Jenny

    I read VF also. However, at some point it becomes clear the mag has a particular agenda. And one may ask themselves how OK is that for them. I know VF is known for it’s great stories but the wanting to be included comes off like begging; as if they’re the only came in town. Give your money to an outlet that at least recognizes you? What an idea!

  • Jenny

    Yeah, that’s bear ‘s head. Gorilla faces have a different composition.

  • Jenny

    Ok, I see the gorilla head on the right. Lmao, people are funny!

  • Jenny

    I will say this: black people are so conditioned that when many see a gorilla, monkey, watermelon, banana, etc. they automatically assume that it’s a racist dig. Never mind the person’s intent, the fact that many blacks think that way is more damaging.

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  • WhitFerg

    While reading this, I maintained a somewhat hesitant demeanor; I try not to quickly get upset about issues when I do not have the facts. All the while, I gave Vanity Fair the benefit of the doubt. That was only up until the mentioning of the fact that in all nineteen issues, the only black people on the cover were on the part of the cover that folded into the magazine. That is outrageous to me. There is no way that is a coincidence. That is a conscious decision. And it speaks volumes about our society! It as if Vanity Fair is to say, ‘yes, African-American, you can be on our cover; we will put you right here on the inside where you can only be seen by those who pick up the magazine and open and unfold the cover.’ Something else that stood out to me in this article is the need to express appreciation for the fact that African-Americans are acknowledged at all and given any credit. The fact that this has to be pointed out, emphasized, and appreciated definitely says something. No one is going around like, ‘we do appreciate Vanity Fair’s efforts to include white actors in their Hollywood issue.’ On one hand, I agree, though; they at least include African-American actors in the issue at all. But on the other hand, that should not excuse what is going on with the covers of all nineteen issues.

  • handsomerandyblackladbrad1953

    We life-size Brad dolls,of whom I am one-from 1968-’72,Brad was Barbie’s then-boyfriend Brabie’s handsome black buddy,in the case of Yours Truly,a black Canadian lad who,five months short of 60,possesses boyish good looks,a muscular build-I’m 5’9″,200-205 lb.,18″ biceps-who’s said to resemble a handsome black cowboy in Wranglers jeans or Western garb-ALWAYS SUFFER DISCRIMINATION,ON THE BIG AND SMALL SCREEN,because we’re frankly FAR too handsome to be credibly cast in the entertainment industry’s top two black males roles,sidekick to the white star/stud and perverted or cognitively challenged pity and/or opprobrium object.

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