Bloomberg Businessweek Attacked for Cover Many See as Racist
Bloomberg Business week is under a firestorm of attack for a cartoon on the cover of last week’s issue that many are calling a racist and stereotypical depiction of blacks and Latinos. The cover shows people of color greedily grabbing handfuls of money and implies that the housing rebound has gotten out of hand because blacks and Latinos are getting loans again.
“Oh wow, oh wow, that is very offensive,” Aracely Panemeno, the director of Latino Affairs for the Center for Responsible Lending, toldNBC Latino when she first viewed the cover. “It is highly offensive and inaccurate, with an intent to promote and perpetuate the myth that communities of color were undeserving of the credit and housing they received and are to blame for the housing crisis, when in reality the opposite is true. They were targeted with predatory loans.”
The editor of Bloomberg Business week, Josh Tyrangiel, issued a statement intended to serve as an apology.
“Our cover illustration last week got strong reactions, which we regret,” said Tyrangiel. “Our intention was not to incite or offend. If we had to do it over again, we’d do it differently.”
Janis Bowdler, the director of economic policy at The National Council of La Raza, told NBC Latinothat a Pew research study found that plummeting house values were the principal cause of loss of wealth in African-American and Hispanic households from 2005 to 2009. During that time, Hispanic household wealth fell by 66 percent and African-American wealth fell by 52 percent.
These statistics make the Bloomberg Businessweek cover even more offensive, she said.
“I found the cover shocking and incredibly insulting,” Bowdler added. “Not only does the cover not relate to the article, it’s incredibly ironic given the changing demographics of this country and somehow insinuates that by trying to have a small slice of American dream, they’re money grabbers.”
“It’s hard to imagine how this one made it through the editorial process,” Ryan Chittum wrote on theColumbia Journalism Review.
Andres Guzman, a Peru-born, Minneapolis-based artist, who was commissioned by Bloomberg Businessweek for the illustration, explained on his Tumblr page what he was thinking.
“I was asked to make an excited family with large quantities of money,” Guzman wrote before the controversy erupted. “I slipped in my lovely cat, Boo, which was my favorite part. Too bad I wasn’t asked to draw large quantities of cats. Drawing dollars was a drag.”
“I simply drew the family like that because those are the kind of families I know,” Guzman said in a followup statement provided to Yahoo! News by Bloomberg Businessweek. “I am Latino and grew up around plenty of mixed families.”
The magazine has made a name for pushing the envelope with its provocative magazine covers. In fact, partly because of the covers, Tyrangiel was named Advertising Age’s 2012 Editor of the Year.