Twitterversy Over Publishers Weekly ‘Afro Picks’ Cover
Is it offensive? Funny? Poorly executed?
If attention is what it wanted, Publishers Weekly succeeded.
For its December 14 issue cover, the Reed Business Information title used a photo entitled “Pickin’,” shot by photographer Lauren Kelly for a new book by Deborah Willis called, "Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present." Willis, an African-American, is the head of New York University’s photography and imaging department.
The cover [pictured] caused a firestorm on Twitter. Publishers Weekly senior editor Calvin Reid, who is African-American, chimed in over the magazine’s feed, claiming he and the magazine’s creative director chose the cover photo and wrote the cover line. Here are some of Reid’s tweets:
@PublishersWkly: I admit that I love afro picks! In the 1970s I had many just like them also stuck in my massive afro. . .
@PublishersWkly: . . and it’s a story about ‘picking’ books. I love dumb jokes.
@PublishersWkly: While I respect everyone who may be offended, I think the photo is a delightful and wry expression of historical Afro Americana.
Even Felicia Pride, the cover story’s author, admitted via Twitter that the cover was, well, a bit shocking:
@feliciapride: I too saw PW cover yesterday. Mouth dropped. Still, I hope you can read my article
What do you think? Is the cover offensive? Funny? Outdated? Ignorant? Poorly executed?
Here’s a select sampling of the comments that have flooded Twitter. Feel free to leave your comment directly to this post.
@yasminhamidi: Ya, I’m not feelin this Publishers Weekly ‘Afro Picks’ cover. Agree that it’s ‘artful but out of context’
@Gripemaster: Why are we suprised? This is the same mag and editors who couldn’t find 1 good novel from a female writer for Top 10 of 2009.
@ChristineTB: Calvin – I owned "Afro Picks" too. But your photo selection, given the current climate which marginalizes AA writers, was poor.
@charabbott: Beyond PW’s cover (which I found fresh & funny), what’s disturbing is the ARTICLE: e.g. less serious black fiction is being pubbed.
@StrachanLit: I find the PW cover to be a clever play on words, but I’m not African American. It seems vaguely wrong–but why?
@angel_atee: At first it’s like, what the hell? Then you look at all those little fists and you realize what it is-overkill. Art.