By Nicole Rufus ‘16Contributing Writer
Dear Bloomberg Businessweek,
By now, I know you have come under an enormous amount of heat for the cover your publication ran the week of Feb. 25, but the issue doesn’t end with your half-hearted apology. You may “regret” the cover, but the harm is already done, and the idea that Blacks and Latinos in this country are money hungry savages has already been placed, whether consciously or subconsciously, into minds of some of your readers.
I would be remiss if I didn’t begin with your terribly offensive caricatures. Your depiction of bulge-eyed, big-lipped, greedy Blacks and Latinos sitting around in their house full of cash is almost comical. You’re quick to call it a mistake, something you would do differently, but the truth is that’s how you see Black and Latino people. It wasn’t some oversight. It was a reflection of your perspective. To you at Businessweek, Blacks and Latinos are the problem. We are people whose eyes bulge in delight at the thought of loans that we can’t afford, and who sit in our houses and fan ourselves with money that we didn’t really earn. In a weird way, I’m happy this happened. For once, you cannot hide behind subtle racism, the things written in a between the lines. This is clear as day, and I’m glad about that. Make no mistake, Businessweek, you sent a message loud and clear with that cover and your half-assed apology doesn’t somehow erase that.
Knowing what you at Businessweek truly think about the subprime crash gives me an opportunity to discuss how completely irresponsible that line of thought is. Your cover (which had nothing to do with the actual article) implies that Blacks and Latinos are somehow responsible for the subprime crash. This comes at a time when Blacks are denied home loans at almost twice the rate of whites in this country, a time when Blacks and Latinos—because they make up the majority of the impoverished in this country—are often victims of predatory loaning schemes. Your cover isn’t only inaccurate, it’s embarrassing to your work as “journalists” because journalism is supposed to help create an informed population, not manipulate them through inaccurate, offensive images. If you’re looking for someone to blame for the crash, blame Wall Street. Blame the banks that practice predatory loaning in order to trap people.
Just as I think you should hold Wall Street accountable for their bad practices, I’m going to hold you accountable, Businessweek. You have a responsibility to be responsible informers, and you failed at that job with that cover. You let preconceived, racist notions—that are false—inform your decision-making and that is inexcusable. Your “regret” means nothing to me. Here’s an idea: hire some Black and Latino people. Have people who are actually a part of the groups that your cover targeted involved in the decision making process. Crazy idea, right? Just promise you’ll think about it.