Ebony magazine takes on Africa

by guest contributor Harry Allen, Hip-Hop Activist & Media Assassin

This is almost too easy, but if you’ve not yet picked up or flipped through December 2007’s self-proclaimed “special collector’s edition” of EBONY, get a gander at:

– Michael Jackson on the cover…and way too much inside (“25 Years After Thriller“), glowing, translucently; with an almost inner light.

– “The Africa You Don’t Know”: An ehh-not-the-worst-given-it’s-EBONY section on the continent. (Even if you don’t buy the issue, check p. 115 for Nigerian journalist Gbemisola Olujobi’s pull-quote about “disaster pornography”; probably the sharpest 42 words you’ll read about the continent this winter.)

– An interview with Bill Clinton about Africa, continuing mainstream Black media’s despicable tradition of speaking to important government leaders through mouths full of puffery. ESSENCE interviews Condoleezza Rice, but doesn’t ask her why she was buying BDSM boots while New Orleansers were floating face down in rancid water, or EBONY talking to Clinton about the continent, but not a single question about Darfur, not to mention Rwanda. (They did get in two questions about “the American Dream,” however. What????)

In fact, Clinton raises the genocide in Rwanda. He doesn’t discuss it, though, or his role in it. He just says, “Take Rwanda, devastated by the 1994 genocide,” the lets fly a paragraph’s worth of “but now”-type banter, plus violas: “Now look at what they’re doing. They’re growing rapidly; they have all kinds of partners, including [Microsoft’s] Bill Gates and me. They’ve opened themselves to the world. They’ve even developed a film industry, for goodness sakes.” Yes; that’s what they needed 13 years ago to stop crudely stamped, Chinese-made machetes: software partnerships and film.

– A story of interracial love as only EBONY can tell it: Janet Langhart and Bill Cohen (Clinton’s defense secretary), with an opening, “our love is alive” photo portrait (p. 158) so fake it’ll make you swear off interracial romance.

Wow. I guess EBONY is still good for something.

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

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