THE BLOG

Do All Black Athletes Look Alike?

For the past three months, I've been documenting an odd American media phenomenon: Misidentified Black People.

That's when you see a picture of a well-known black person, but the caption says it's some other black person. As if photo editors aren't able to tell Negroes apart.

It happens to rappers. Like in March, when New York magazine posted a photograph of Fabolous on its website, but the caption said it was Juelz Santana.

Happens to elected officials, too. Like last month, when the New York Times ran a picture of law professor Anita Hill (yes, that Anita Hill), but the caption said it was New York state legislator Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Mostly it happens to athletes. Male athletes and female athletes. College athletes, pro athletes and retired athletes.

Some of the nation's top papers -- Chicago Tribune, Washington Post -- have a hard time telling one black jock from another. Here are the photographic misidentifications of black athletes I've cataloged since February:

The caption said it was Louisiana State University defensive back LaRon Landry. Actually, it was his teammate Dwayne Bowe. (Chicago Tribune, April 24)

The caption said it was former tennis pro Zina Garrison. Actually, it was former tennis pro Lori McNeil. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 23)

The caption said it was LSU quarterback LaMarcus Russell. Actually, it was his teammate Craig Davis. (Washington Post, April 20)

The caption said it was ex-NFL star Willie Brown. Actually, it was ex-NFL star James Harris. (Associated Press, April 12)

The caption said it was ex-NBA player Latrell Sprewell. Actually, it was ex-NBA player Rick Brunson. (Hartford Courant, April 1)

The caption said it was University of Arkansas basketball player Sonny Weems. Actually, it was his teammate Patrick Beverley. (Associated Press, March 9)

The caption said it was ex-NBA player Terry Catledge. Actually, it was NBA player Keyon Dooling. (Daytona Beach News-Journal, February 27)

The caption said it was DePaul University basketball player Marcus Heard. Actually, it was his teammate Wilson Chandler. (Chicago Tribune, February 20)

The caption said it was ex-NBA player Kevin Gamble. Actually, it was his ex-teammate Dee Brown. (Chicago Tribune, February 10)

Why does this keep happening? I have not figured that out yet.

But if you wish to contribute to my ever-expanding database of Misidentified Black People -- be they ballers or book authors, singers or statesmen -- please reach out to me at my blog, Undercover Black Man:

http://undercoverblackman.blogspot.com