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Stepping Into The Shadow Of Racism

The March 2012 cover of FHM Philippines showed a very Caucasian looking, Filipino actress and model Bela Padilla appearing to emerge from a group of very dark, very African looking black models accompanied with the caption, Stepping Out of the Shadows.  The cover photo was immediately met with a backlash from readers and social media who argued, rightly so, that it was racially insensitive.  The social outrage was so strong that it prompted the local publisher to issue an apology and scrap the edition with a promise to print a new cover featuring Ms. Padilla.  A statement from the publisher said that in their pursuit to come up with edgier covers they will strive to be more sensitive.

An online petition on calling for the publisher to apologize for the cover saying that people of African descent have been unjustly stigmatized as embodying darkness ever since the era of global institutionalized slavery.  The petition went on to say that the cover was a modern rendition of a regressive form of racial discrimination and should be brought to the utmost scrutiny in a day and age wherein racial equality should be universal.

The controversial cover sparked a series of questions like, why pit one woman’s white body against five women’s black bodies?  Why highlight one at the expense of the others?  It was said that the shoot is an analogy about Ms. Padilla emerging from her inhibitions.  But that begs the question who thought it was a good idea to symbolize a very fair skinned girl’s inhibitions as a group of black girls and who approved this analogy concept for publishing?

In typical modern fashion, black skinned people represent a negative while a white skinned woman is used to represent a positive.  Ms. Padilla is said to be emerging from shadows.  By definition, a shadow is an area where light cannot reach due to being obstructed by another object.  A shadow occupies all of the space behind an object in front of it.  If we apply this to the Ms. Padilla centric cover analogy, the black people in the shoot that represent the shadows cannot be seen because they are being obstructed by the focus on the very bright Ms. Padilla who stands front and center.

However, it should be noted that the whole concept of using black people as the background to white people’s foreground is rooted in our social reality.  As a general practice, people have never seen black people as anything but white people’s shadow.  Black people were once white people’s property.  Here in the United States our Constitution was written by white people with the understanding that black people were not fully human and a black person was only worth, at most, three-fifths a white person.  When President Abraham Lincoln ended the institution of slavery, he did so with the conviction that the black person would never be the equal of a white person.  In this respect, Mr. Lincoln was an incredibly accurate prophet.

In psychology, the shadow aspect refers to the part of the unconscious mind consisting of repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts.  Right about the dawn of the twentieth century, Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung developed the theory that this shadow represented our more primitive and animalistic instincts and the less impact it has on our conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.  And it might just be a coincidence, but what race of human is most often described as primitive and animalistic than the people of African descent?  It is something that many people take for granted.  This imagery oozes from the very center of our social culture core and permeates each and every facet of our lives.  In every social measure in the comparison between the lives of white people and the lives of black people, without exception, black people exist in white people’s shadow.  So does it come as any real surprise that a group of black models are being depicted as the shadow of a single white model?

Was FHM Philippines being racially insensitive?  The answer is without a doubt a resounding yes.  But they are hardly an exception.  It should be noted that this publication is no more insensitive than the vast majority of the institutions, associations, corporations, organizations, and affiliations that our population participates in as part of our civilization.  Quite frankly I’m surprised that this instance of racial insensitivity even made the news.  It’s not like it’s an exception to behavior we tolerate day in and day out.

Racial equality will forever remain a pipe dream.  Like Mr. Lincoln, the world will never believe that the black person is truly the equal of a white person.  Racial disparity is something that is very primitive and animalistic in our social makeup.  For many of us, racism is a fundamental component of who we are.  And what is truly funny about it, generally speaking the lighter the skin the better the chance that people will surrender themselves to their dark shadowy impulse to practice racism.

Thursday, March 1, 2012 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, Thoughts


  1. This is proof that there are idiots in the world. I w onder what went through the minds of the African women posing with her.

    Comment by dianne | Monday, March 5, 2012 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback dianne,

      From what I understand those are not women of African descent but Filipinos made up to look like they are of African descent. If that is the case, they were probably thinking how lucky they were not to be black.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, March 6, 2012 | Reply

  2. I want to say so much , but I can’t get it out. This is “breathtaking” in a negative way.

    Comment by dianne | Monday, March 5, 2012 | Reply

    • Welcome to my world. I usually have so much to say about a lot of subjects. But it takes so long just to get one item written and I have a family, a job, and a business that I’m trying to run. And I’m not the most disciplined person in the world.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, March 6, 2012 | Reply

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