First Vanity Fair Cover Shot by Black Photographer & Global News

by Debra Brown

Vanity Fair Cover

Each Wednesday, we recap the most important headlines from our global community to keep you up to speed on world news.


Vanity Fair Cover Is By A Black Photographer For The First Time In Its 37-Year History

Vanity Fair has commissioned a Black photographer, Dario Calamese to shoot its cover for the first time in its 37-year history.

“To the best of our knowledge, it is the first Vanity Fair cover made by a Black photographer,” Radhika Jones wrote in her July-August editor’s letter. The subject of the cover is Viola Davis, who, in the same issue, told her interviewer, Sonia Saraiya, that Black women haven’t traditionally been photographed for the cover of Vanity Fair, either. 

The image was inspired by “The Scourged Back,” an 1863 photograph of Peter Gordon, a runaway Black enslaved man.

For Viola Davis, the image represented the strength it takes to tell your own story, she said. For Mr. Calmese, it is about rewriting an old story.

In 2018, after 126 years, Vogue’s cover was shot by a Black photographer for the first time. The cover star was Beyoncé, who was given complete control and pushed for a Black photographer, selecting Tyler Mitchell to photograph her for the cover.

Recently, Vogue released its newest cover, which features gymnast Simone Biles, shot by legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz. But observers quickly pointed out that the magazine could have commissioned a Black photographer instead.

Several critics on Twitter (including New York Times national picture editor Morrigan McCarthy) took shots at the dimly lit images of Biles inside and out by famous photog Annie Leibovitz and suggested that Vogue should have used a Black photographer (and hire more Black photographers in general), or at the very least find someone who better understands Black skin tones.

As protests against racism and police violence grew into a worldwide movement, company employees publicly complained about racism in the workplace and in Condé Nast content, publisher of Vanity Fair and Vogue.


Zindzi Mandela, Activist & Daughter Of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, Dies At 59

Zindzi Mandela, the youngest child of anti-apartheid icons Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela, died at the age of 59. Mandela was South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark and her death was confirmed by the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

At age 12 she wrote to the United Nations, urging it to intervene to protect her mother, herself an anti-apartheid activist, from the South African authorities.

She received a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Cape Town. Soon after graduating, she became her father’s emissary.

During her political career, she served as deputy president of the Soweto Youth Congress and was an underground operative for the African National Congress (ANC) party’s armed wing, uMkhonto we Sizwe, the foremost anti-apartheid movement, according to her official biography.

Zindzi rose to international prominence when she read out her father Mandela’s letter from prison at a rally in which Madiba rejected then apartheid government primer minister of then-president P.W. Botha’s offer of a conditional release from prison in 1985. 


Redskins to Drop Racist Name After Pressure From Sponsors and Activists 

The U.S. National Football League’s Washington franchise will change the Redskins name and logo, the team announced. The new name was not revealed.

The decision came 10 days after the franchise said it would review the 87-year-old team name under significant pressure from major corporate partners including FedEx, which had threatened to end its naming rights sponsorship of the team’s stadium. The name has long been denounced by Indigenous groups as an ethnic slur.

A June report published in the Race, Ethnicity, and Education Journal found that about 2,000 teams in the United States use Native American mascots and that the mascots contribute to low self-esteem, depression, and stress in Native students while reinforcing stereotypes among non-Native students. 


Bangladesh and China Face Worst Flooding in Decades

A third of Bangladesh is underwater after some of the heaviest rains in a decade, officials said. Almost four million people have also been hit by monsoon floods in South Asia.

The monsoon – which usually falls from June to September – is crucial to the economy of the Indian sub-continent, but also causes widespread death and destruction across the region every year.

With a 10-day forecast pointing to rising waters, Bangladesh’s Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre chief Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan said if more rivers burst their banks, some 40 percent of the nation could be flooded “in a worst-case scenario”.

The floods started late last month, and after briefly easing continued to worsen, destroying crops and driving people from their homes in several impoverished regions.

In China, over 2 million people have been displaced, and at least 141 are dead or missing, as weeks of torrential rains have caused some of the worst floodings the country has seen in over two decades. Hundreds of rivers nationwide have risen above warning levels. As many as 33 rivers have risen to their highest levels in history. Some of the worst-affected areas by the massive flooding include regions that were the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.


Covid-19 Updates from Around the World 

More than 13 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, 7.3 million have recovered, and more than 573,000 have died, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University. The US, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Italy have recorded the most deaths.

Deaths from HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria could surge in poor and middle-income countries as already weak health systems grapple with severe disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a predictive study.

South Africa is now recording the fourth-largest daily increase in new infections worldwide, while its official coronavirus-related death toll stands at 4,172.

Hong Kong is set to impose its toughest curbs yet to control the coronavirus after authorities warned the risk of a large-scale outbreak was extremely high.

India has reported 28,498 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, taking its total number of infections to 906,752. Cases have jumped by 100,000 in four days.

In the U.S., Florida, one of the current epicenters in the nation’s coronavirus crisis, has recorded more than 290,000 cases and more than 4,400 deaths.

California is largely shutting down again as the state has announced a sweeping plan to halt a recent surge in coronavirus cases.


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