LeBron James is a basketball player who transcends his sport. James is even on the cover of this month’s Vogue magazine. That makes the Cleveland Cavaliers star just the third man in history (following Richard Gere and George Clooney) to appear on the fashion magazine’s cover.

But putting an African American man on their cover for the first time in its history has actually led to charges of racism against Vogue.

ABC news managed to dig up a history professor who says the image of a snarling black man with his arm around the waist of a beautiful white woman actually invokes images of racism. The professor says this is age-old symbolism that can be seen in white culture from King Kong movies all the way back to ancient pottery. Professor Jason Rosenfeld, who teaches art history at Marymount Manhattan College says,

“Here you have an image of a black male athlete in an exceptionally aggressive stance, wide footed, bending over, clutching her with his arm,” said Jason Rosenfeld, professor of art history at Marymount Manhattan College. “It’s one thing to have an athlete in that kind of pose and with that kind of expression on a court after he or she has done something miraculous. It’s another thing to couple it with someone who is of an entirely different ilk and gender. That turns it into a racially charged image.”

“When you’re for the first time putting a black man on the cover, and this is the way you’re depicting him, it means that you’re going nowhere,” Rosenfeld said. “Pose LeBron in the pose of a Greek God and pose her as a Venus — then you’re upping the conversation.”

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