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LEYENDECKER COVERS AND THE AFRO-AMERICAN MALE

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Magazines249 of 376LEYENDECKER COVERS AND AFROAMERICAN FEMALES EASTER COVERS AND J.C. LYENDECKER
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Posted 2 years ago

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Alfredo
(506 items)

It is practically impossible to study the total output of Leyendecker's semiotic (the study of signs) universe. Much of it has simply been lost: paper is quite a fragile commodity. I have made it a point to look at images of blacks on his covers. Black males are always portrayed in subservient positions--porters, butlers, gardeners-- with regard to their white "masters". However, in his portrayals of young boys, he does show how childhood camaraderie trumps any racism.

Pic. 1: Oct. 20, 1935. A black hobo as a seasonal sign, thumbing his way towards warmer (Southern) climates, a big smile on his face. The ducks reinforce the theme of migration.

Pic. 2: July 3rd., 1937. Two boys clinging to a lamppost in order to see the town's parade. Notice the contrast in attitude between the two boys, which is quite stereotypical. However, it may be that the black boy has quite good reasons for being scared, fooling around with a white boy on the 4th of July!

Pic. 3. November 6, 1937. A black gardener rakes and burns leaves while a small white boy gravely watches. An image from everyday life, it brings home one small fact: whites and blacks do not live in distinct and separate worlds. They share one country.

Pic. 4. Dec. 18, 1937. An implicit condemnation of the kind of racism that enables a small white boy to be solicitously serviced by a black porter (menial railroad jobs usually went to blacks) for a tip. The porter, ironically, towers over the boy. Remember what working black males were called at the time?

The four images above satisfy cultural perception of blacks in the 30's, while at the same time providing a counterdiscourse, a reminder that Afro Americans are an integral part of this country. All are from my personal collection.

Comments

  1. ho2cultcha ho2cultcha, 2 years ago
    i think pic 2 is the most interesting. the black youth has a very tenuous grip - at best - and the white kid has a very firm grasp and safe seat in america. so obviously, one is celebrating and the other is trying to hold on.
  2. Woman34 Woman34, 2 years ago
    Wow- thanks for these images Alfredo. I also want to point out that in pictures during this time, whites were also usually positioned either behind or far away from whites in images. The Dick and Jane readers for example, when they started adding black children, they were usually drawn off in the distance so that they could be made to look smaller than the white children. Notice, too, how the white boy in the second image is posted higher up than the black child as well.
  3. ho2cultcha ho2cultcha, 2 years ago
    i think leyendecker is overtly showing an ugly truth, rather than reaffirming a societal order. it's too blatant and the eyes of the black child are appealing for a change in the order - or at least he brings consciousness to something most elites would have preferred to not think about.
  4. ho2cultcha ho2cultcha, 2 years ago
    images 3 and 4 are interesting too. they both show young white boys standing idle and watching much larger and older black men labor. in both cases, the central figure is the black man - maybe a tribute to him and his labors? and the little white boys - innocent observers becoming participants in an unjust system?
  5. Alfredo Alfredo, 2 years ago
    WOW, ARE YOU THINKING HARD! THE SCARED LOOK OF THE BOY IN PIC. 2 IS A STANDARD VAUDEVILLE DESCRIPTION OF BLACKS AS COWARDLY AND MENTALLY "SOFT'. AS TO THE OTHERS, I THINK THEY POINT TO THE INEVITABILY OF COEXISTENCE, AND ITS POSIBILITIES FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF BOTH RACES
  6. ho2cultcha ho2cultcha, 2 years ago
    ...or just an observation of our roles and destinies in society.

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