Boycott Vanity Fair

A perfect opportunity to stem the tide of racism

By David Roman
Published on LatinoLA: February 25, 2003

Boycott Vanity Fair

Ms. Guadalupe Aguilar sounds a call to arms (Forget Dame Edna at, one that encourages Latinos from all walks of lives to take up the gauntlet and to champion ?important issues? for our community. Ms. Aguilar articulates a frustration that's rampant in the Latino community. This frustration appears to stem from an inability to defend ourselves from the excesses of insecure non-Latinos who wish to strip us from our cultural individuality.

While I share some of Ms. Aguilar?s frustrations, I believe that a boycott against Vanity Fair is a reasonable and just action for Latinos to undertake.

The comments made in Dame Edna?s now infamous February 2003 Vanity Fair column are, by Ms. Aguilar?s own admission, ?offensive and insulting.? I have no qualms with her over this characterization. I will not, however, attempt to explain away these remarks as a dry British ?stab? at an ignorant reader.

It is precisely because of the offensive and insulting -- and to add my own words here -- disparaging and racist nature of these comments that a boycott is not only rational but also necessary. Dame Edna?s comments should not be so easily dismissed, especially when spewing racially insensitive and offensive characterizations of minorities appears to be part of an emerging pattern at Conde Nast publications.

In the December 2002 issue of GQ , Dr. Cornell West, an eminent African American scholar and formerly professor of Afro-American studies at Harvard University, was referred to as a ?punk ass bitch,? on GQ?s The 2002 Overrated List.

Both GQ and Vanity Fair are published by Conde Nast Publications.

Ms. Aguilar may not have been aware of the problem that appears to be surfacing at Conde Nast. It is important that Latinos flex those political and economic muscles that she alludes to, and precisely in the face of blatant injustice. We may not turn the tide of Proposition 187 or improve the learning conditions for Latino or African American youth by boycotting Conde Nast publications.

We may, however, get their attention.

GQ and Vanity Fair are magazines aimed at an elite sector of the American populace. Boycotting these publications, and creating a dialogue that forces Conde Nast to come to grips with its own insensitivity is a necessary precursor for change may afford us the opporunity to bring this issue to the same people who thought little of the disparaging and racist comments in their magazines.

Through its own insensitivity, Conde Nast has made itself a legitimate target for a boycott. I hope that Ms. Aguilar and others who share her position will reconsider and join us in a boycott of all Conde Nast publications until the publisher acknowledges its mistake and makes a concerted effort to include positive Latino voices.

If Ms. Aguilar wants an opportunity to gain the attention of the powers that be, I?d say that this is both a good reason and a perfect opportunity.

About David Roman:
David Roman is a student at California State University, Los Angeles majoring in Latin American Studies.

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