The hunt for racism has become the new national sport in sectors of the “new media” media where BuzzFeed, Gawker, Slate and HuffPo contributors are expected to dig up at least two examples of horrible white privilege a week or their meth allowance gets cut back. And the Great Racism Hunt usually leads to lots of Racefails from the professional racefailers.
Businessweek’s cover about housing had all the expected ingredients. It was a cover. It featured minorities. And it was cartoonishly drawn.
At Slate, Matthew Yglesias jumped into action demanding an apology from Businessweek for their incredibly racist cover, which according to him expressed the idea that, “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.”
Businessweek pointed out that the cover was not the result of a confab between the KKK and Hitler’s ghost, but was the work of a Peruvian illustrator.
Andres Guzman, the illustrator, wrote, “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.”
Caught in his very own racefail, Yglesias argued that such a cover might be fine for Peru, but was wrong for Politically Correct America.
“That’s understandable enough as far as it goes. Obviously, though, as Businessweek well knows someone else on the staff should have been able to see how this was going to look in the U.S. context.”
The problem is that Guzman, according to his Bio, grew up in Colorado… which is well within the U.S. context. With that Yglesias was forced to default to claiming that the Businessweek cover was racist because it seemed racist in his mind.
It’s pretty clear if you read the story that there’s genuinely no effort here to impugn minority homebuyers, but that’s certainly how I read the image, and I think it’s a very natural reading of it.
So Yglesias expected Businessweek to apologize because his reading of a minority illustrator’s cover was racist? Is there a better illustration of a living racefail?
But the Racefail doesn’t end there.
Hugo Balta, the president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, said the cover “continues to speak to the insensitivity of how minorities, and in this case Latinos, are being portrayed in media.”
The problem is that the “media” in this case was a Latino illustrator.
Gregory Lee Jr., the president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said in a statement, “The image that was published by Bloomberg Businessweek is just a microcosm of a bigger problem in the magazine industry — the lack of diversity.”
But the Businessweek cover was the result of diversity, giving Gregory Lee Jr his very own racefail.