Black Guy Photoshopped In

AMES, IA–In the spirit of celebrating diversity at Iowa State University, a black guy was digitally added to the cover of the school's 2001 spring-semester course catalog, school officials announced Monday.

Illustration for article titled Black Guy Photoshopped In

"Here at Iowa State, we have a remarkably diverse student body, with literally dozens of non-whites," Iowa State director of student affairs Andrea Driessen said. "We thought a picture with at least one non-white happily interacting with whites would be a great way to show off this fact. Unfortunately, we didn't have any pictures of whites and non-whites actually interacting, so we had to make one up."

Said chancellor Dr. Michael Arbus: "An unaltered, or 'real,' cover photo would not have adequately captured the glorious rainbow of multiculturalism that is ISU. We thought it best to take a more illusory, 'less-actual' approach in depicting this school's racial demographic."


The black guy, added using Adobe Photoshop, has been identified as Marcus Jamison. A Shreveport, LA, native, Jamison attended Iowa State for one semester in 1996 before transferring to Grambling University. His face was lifted from a photo of him attending a racial-sensitivity seminar during his freshman orientation and digitally added to the course-catalog cover by graphic designer Brian Tompkins.

"Believe me, this was not an easy task. We combed through hundreds of school-newspaper and yearbook file photos before we found a picture of a black guy," Tompkins said. "Even then, we had to keep searching, because we felt it was important that the black guy be smiling."


Added Tompkins: "If you think it's hard to find a picture of a black guy, try finding a smiling black guy!"

In addition to the black guy on its cover, the course catalog features several inside photos of black guys, though only in single-person shots. University authorities stressed that all of those images are actual photos of actual minorities printed on actual paper.


"Each black guy you see in this catalog was, in fact, photographed at one point," Arbus said. "This booklet is our way of letting people know the importance of including black guys in official school publications. That's the Iowa State promise."

Arbus noted that the school's football team also includes "a whole lot" of black guys not pictured.


"We have nothing against black guys at this school, as evidenced by our dedication to adding them to images of campus life," Arbus said. "That shows just how serious we are about our commitment to diversity."

Spokespersons for Iowa State, which added Jamison to the course-catalog cover with neither his knowledge or permission, expressed confidence that he would be pleased.


"I'm sure Mr. Jamison, wherever he is, would be thrilled to see his image used in the service of uplifting the black community and promoting friendship between the races," Iowa State director of communications Bryce Jennings said. "In fact, I bet if he knew about this, he'd even thank us. You're welcome, Marcus!"

Iowa State's use of Photoshop has proven so successful, it is quickly becoming a model for other universities across the nation seeking to improve their schools' veneer of diversity.


"Photoshop opens up an exciting new realm of possibilities for America's institutions of higher learning," University of Montana president Karl Watson said. "Here at Montana, for example, we plan to Photoshop up to 10 percent more Latinos into orientation brochures. If we can get funding, we may also Photoshop handicap-accessible ramps onto exterior shots of campus buildings."

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