Did a “Black Woman Chair” Disrespect MLK Day?

chair

Buro 24/7, a Russian online magazine, published an interview with a Russian magazine editor on Martin Luther King Day that featured photographs of the editor sitting on what appears to be a half-naked African American woman (see above). The “chair” was reportedly an attempt to recreate similar work done by British pop artist Allen Jones in 1969. That this photograph—published on MLK Day—was of a white woman sitting on a black woman, was not lost among a number of readers. According to the Huffington Post, one reader commented on Twitter, “extremely disappointed in Miroslava Duma [the blog’s editor] and Buro247 for posting this nonsense, especially on a day like today.” Aside from bad timing the other problem, some think, is that the fashion industry is given a pass when it comes to racism, all in the name of art. As one reader tweeted, “Even in the grim, tasteless world of fashion photography, this revolting racist image—pub’d on MLK Day!—stands out.”

While these criticisms seem to be right on target, it’s important to remember that MLK Day is an American holiday, and that our interest in racial equality may not be shared with other countries and other cultures. Was it wrong for a Russian blog to run this photograph on an American holiday? Or was it just wrong to run the picture at all?

Thanks to our friend and department alum Heidi Woodard for the tip!

Sources: Buro 24/7, HuffingtonPost.com

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