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Opinion: Death shouldn’t...

Opinion: Death shouldn’t be the only reason Black people star in magazines

George Floyd’s senseless murder was a rude awakening for America.

Not only did Americans begin to look at defunding police departments across the country, but it caused larger brands to truly take an introspective look at their practices when it comes to race and diversity, including the news industry.

In recent months, there’s been a change in content for most magazines, as many have chosen to highlight the issues of today: the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans dead at the hands of police.

HONORING GEORGE FLOYDNew George Floyd mural unveiled in Third Ward encourages Houstonians to vote

According to a new analysis by Poynter’s Samir Husni, Mark K. Dolan and Marquita Smith, since the death of George Floyd, “mainstream magazines celebrated Blackness on their covers about three times more than in the previous 90 years combined.”

While this is something worth recognizing, it’s hardly commendable. Modern magazines have been around for the better part of a century and it’s taken years for the industry to truly embrace Blackness.

Of course, there are Black-owned magazines like Ebony, Essence and JET, which choose to highlight and empower Black people. But let’s take a look at other popular magazines and their slow roll in showcasing Black subjects.

Megan Thee Stallion for TIME Magazine

Megan Thee Stallion for TIME Magazine

Dana Scruggs for TIME

In the past, there have either been very few Black people gracing the cover of popular magazines, or the images on the covers of those magazines are manipulated to show Black people in a negative light. A prime example is O.J. Simpson’s TIME Magazine cover in 1994.

It has taken a slew of horrifying deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police to reveal to the print media industry the humanity of Black people. You can tell the cultural shift in the magazine by the figures gracing glossy covers in 2020.

Reporters at Poynter found that “each and every one of the 126 covers published in 2020 that featured Black subjects showed them in a positive and uplifting light, whether they were ordinary Americans like the couples on the covers of Psychology Today and Southern Bride, or celebrities and politicians like those on the covers of The Week Junior, Time and BookPage.”

In 2020 Houston natives Lizzo and Megan Thee Tallion graced the covers of major magazines: Lizzo, for Vogue, and Megan Thee Stallion for TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.”

LIZZO COVERSLizzo is officially a Vogue cover girl: ‘I am the first big Black woman on the cover’

While the revolution continues to unfold, it’s important to note that Black people have always been innovative, brilliant and successful. Death shouldn’t be the cause of a deviation from the white status quo when it comes to a magazine cover. Give us our flowers today.