National Geographic: for decades, our coverage was racist

Historian says past editions reinforced notion that non-white people were exotic and savage

National Geographic has acknowledged that its coverage of black and minority ethnic people in America and the wider world has been historically racist, frequently promoting caricatures of the “noble savage” and barely featuring the US’s minority ethnic population.

An internal investigation last year showed that until the 1970s, National Geographic in effect ignored minority ethnic Americans who were not labourers or domestic workers, and portrayed non-white people around the world as “exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages – every type of cliche.”

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