Kenan Professor Explores the Ethics of Representation through Album Art

Wayne Norman
Wayne Norman climbs on his desk to show off his record collection in his office in the East Duke Building. Photo by Chris Hildreth for Duke Magazine.

In its 2023 Fall Edition, Duke Magazine interviews Wayne Norman, the Mike and Ruth Mackowski Professor of Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics, about his office display of records. Beyond their aesthetic value, Norman uses the album covers as a conversation starter about the music industry and race, pointing out the large number of albums by Black musicians in the ‘50s and ‘60s that have photographs of white women on the cover. He says has only found one example of the inverse: an album by a white musician with a Black woman on the cover.

What does this mean? He offers some theories.

“This category, it helps us tell a story about the mechanisms of systemic racism within a society. It’s a very vivid illustration of how an outrageous practice can hide in plain sight until it can’t.” – Wayne Norman

Read the full article by Corbie Hill on the Duke Magazine website, and watch the video interview with Dr. Norman below.