Ebony magazine has created controversy with the preview of its special September issue, which features bold cover photos related to the Trayvon Martin murder case.

As part of its attempt to keep alive the conversation of race and Stand Your Ground laws, which became national issues following the slaying of African-American teen Travyon Martin last year, the publication is rolling out a special issue with four separate covers bearing the headline “We Are Travyon” and featuring Black celebrities and their sons.

Appearing on the covers are the slain teenager’s own parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin with their son Jahvaris Fulton, as well as director Spike Lee and his son Jackson, actor Boris Kodjoe and his son Nicolas and NBA star Dwyane Wade with his sons Zaire and Zion, all wearing grey hoodies.

“As a mother of a young Black boy, the tragedy of Travyon Martin affected me deeply,” the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Amy Barnett, said in a press release, according to The Huffington Post. “We simply cannot allow the conversations on this issue to come to a standstill. As the leading source for an authoritative perspective on the African-American community, at Ebony we are committed to serving as a hub for Black America to explore solutions, and to giving readers the information and tools they need to help ensure a bright future for all of our children.”

In addition to an exclusive interview with Trayvon’s parents, the issue includes in-depth coverage on George Zimmerman’s trial and the aftermath, a discussion with Lee, Kodjoe and Wade about how they address the topic of racism with their sons, a prayer of healing by Bishop T.D. Jakes, an article on racial profiling by Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill, a poem for Travyon by singer Jill Scott, discussions on how to save Black youth from gun violence, and more.

The visually powerful covers and the issue’s content have been widely praised by many. Predictably, however, others have decried the covers as being racist and even evil.

“These covers are frankly racist,” Aaron Worthing wrote on Twitter. @Melvin_Udall_ deemed Ebony’s “stand” as “racist, race baiting, fraud. Pure evil.”

There was even a rumor that the Tea Party would boycott the magazine. Ebony responded to that rumor with several snarky replies.

“We have so many Tea Party readers and followers. To lose all zero of them due to our September cover would be devastating,” the magazine wrote on its Twitter account Aug. 7. “The racist trolls on our timeline objecting to our September covers need to have a seat at a Klan meeting and get out of our mentions.”

To its supporters the magazine said: “And thanks to all those who have expressed their appreciation for our September covers. We are honored to do this work. #JusticeForTrayvon.”


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO