A few days ago, Bloomberg Businessweek came out with a controversial cover featuring African American and Latino caricatures inside of a cartoon home greedily grabbing wads of cash in a story about the housing market recovery.
As it’s been widely reported in recent years, the Latino and African American communities were disproportionately affected by the housing market’s collapse. Median household wealth in the Latino community dropped by 66% from 2005 to 2009. During the same period, median household wealth in black households dropped 53%. Latinos and blacks were also more likely to be targeted for subprime loans.
Hugo Balta, the President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, hit back on the cover saying, “Propaganda like the Bloomberg Businessweek cover leads to feelings of resentment that can act to incite violence and hatred against Latinos, which is what has been happening when it comes to issues of immigration in this country.”
The President of the National Association of Black Journalists, Gregory Lee, Jr., said, “The image that was published by Bloomberg BusinessWeek is just a microcosm of a bigger problem in the magazine industry—the lack of diversity. The last presidential election demonstrated that our nation’s demographics are changing rapidly and it is essential that media companies should make the appropriate changes to welcome diversity in their newsrooms, specifically in managerial positions.”
And that’s the key point. Magazines like Bloomberg Businessweek have editorial teams and meetings about cover art and cover photographs. To think that this particular one made the cut may give people a moment to pause and think how the employees of this magazine perceive African Americans and Latinos. Ironically enough, the cover art was drawn by a Peruvian artist, but that doesn’t take away from the perception problem this cover art created.