We’ve heard from many of you about our cover text for the March issue, and if we had the chance to do it again, we’d go in a different direction. In retrospect, it was ill-chosen and we apologize to those who are offended by it, and to MyNameIsJohnMichael, the band that appeared on the cover and who we meant to honor, not demean. We didn’t realize the phrase “strange fruit” has the same power in 2010 that it did when lynching was a more contemporary threat. Still, we recognize that for many it’s not a distant memory, and as events in Jena, Louisiana in 2006 demonstrated, the noose remains a potent image.
We profoundly regret our thoughtlessness and insensitivity, but we believe our history of coverage demonstrates our concern for race-related issues and we are saddened by those who would extrapolate this to speak to our character. The context of the cover text next to an indie rock band suggests that we’re not using the phrase in a threatening way, and we believe our mission covering music borne out of slavery suggests that we don’t take the issues connected with it—including hate crimes—lightly. We believed that in 2010, the phrase “strange fruit” could be used without automatically evoking the Billie Holiday song and its subject matter. This was an error in judgment for which we apologize.