Acknowledging a deluge of pressure from offended readers, Publishers Weekly magazine has apologized for the cover of its special edition on African-American literature, depicting a photo of a Black woman with Afro picks sprouting from her head.
"My apologies to anyone who was offended by our cover – that certainly wasn't our intent," said the publication’s editorial director, Brian Kenney. The cover shot was taken by photographer Lauren Kelley and comes from Deborah Willis's book, Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to Present.
The photo introduced the cover story on African-American book publishing, penned by Felicia Pride.
Calvin Reid, the magazine’s senior news editor, said that the response to the cover photo was immediate. "It didn't take long before complaints began to circulate on Twitter about the image used on the cover of this week's Publishers Weekly to illustrate the annual feature on African-American book publishing," he said on the magazine’s Web site.
The complaints included such comments as: "We don't get the 'Afro Picks!' cover. It's not hip, cute, or appealing." Another critic called it "a big mistake," while another described it as "ridiculous." One commenter even asked Publishers Weekly "what were you thinking?" And those are just the complaints that the magazine revealed in its apology about the cover.
"The image was reminiscent of the 1970s and appealed to me, someone who grew up in the middle of the 1970s-era wave of Black pride, Black power and big afros with big afro picks stuck right in the back,” Reid said. “To me it is a sweet, tongue-in-cheek funny and striking image of quirky Black hair power.
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