Last week, Black Twitter went absolutely berserk over Vanity Fair’s recent cover story on LeBron James and his family. Social media users were not only in awe of the breathtaking photos in the feature but also of the representation of Black excellence that is not as common in mainstream media as some would hope. Photographer Gillian Laub nailed a literal picture-perfect spread that was an extreme departure from the hyper-sexed, violent, and overly aggressive mediated images of Blackness that are commonplace throughout mainstream media, social media, film, and television.
Love him or hate him, Lebron James is not playing any games. He is entering his 20th season in the NBA while firmly securing his place as a billionaire. On top of all this, his sons Bryce and Bronny are making names for themselves in the basketball world. With Bronny going to college and Bryce going into his second year at Sierra Canyon. Last but certainly not least, Savannah James is not playing the role of a complacent WAG — eating off the fruit of her superstar NBA hubby’s labor. A businesswoman and philanthropist in her own right, Savannah founded the I PROMise Makeover — an annual event providing underprivileged teens with prom dresses in 2018. The LeBron James Family Foundation has also donated $41 million of scholarship money to University of Akron students.
Needless to say, the James family is making major moves and building a legacy, which is why Vanity Fairr chose to cover the family for their upcoming October/November issue. And the images released were nothing short of pure opulence. One of the pictures included Bronny, Bryce, Zhuri, Lebron, and Savannah — posed in front of art from the Nino Mier Gallery in their dining room. In the stunning photo, LeBron, Savannah, Bronny, Bryce, and Zhuri are wearing Gucci, styled by Matthew Henson.
In another photo standing in front of a Porsche 918 Spyder, Savannah is giving sexy, sophisticated realness — wearing a black lace gown with a plunging neckline by Chanel, Gianvito Rossi shoes, and a necklace by Bulgari; complimented by LeBron wearing a sleek all-black Tom Ford number. LeBron’s mother, Gloria, also joined the family for the photo shoot, and Zhuri stole the show in each picture she graced.
But what stood out more than the exquisite pictures themselves was what the spread represented. Many are all too familiar with the stereotypical tropes that flood mainstream media depicting Blackness. Narratives typically span from the hyper-masculine, overly sexual, Black man to the neck-rolling, eye-bucking images of Black women. Both usually scream poverty-stricken, downtrodden — reducing Blackness and Black culture to trauma, struggle, and victimization — reaffirming played-out stereotypes of Blacks as non-trustworthy, dangerous — lacking decorum and the ability to self-regulate. So, while the pictures of the James’ family were a true optical delight, the representation of Black excellence and making a statement that Blackness and the Black experience are diverse, complex, brilliant, beautiful, robust, and far from a monolith was by far the true treat.