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Essence Magazine's White Girl

I'm listening to some of the best intellectuals we have in Black culture make their cases for why Essence magazine has done a bad thing.  I'm reading women and men screaming out about this injustice of our beloved magazine hiring a white woman as the Fashion Director.  Normally, you would see me ready to go to battle over any injustice, any issue where I can see that one group will be held down, held back from being able to actively participate equal at the table.

I'm not ready for battle. 

Black's only?

 Is the issue simply around her being white  or do we know more about her qualifications for being a fashion editor? I understand the disappointment and anger about this but I'm concerned that we've solely wrapped this commentary around her whiteness and not included any discussion about work history and qualifications. Admittedly, I haven't stayed up on this particular issue with Essence other than the immediate responses given once the word got out about the hire. So I researched and she's worked with Oprah, Us Weekly, and was an freelance writer for Essence prior to her hire. Mmmm'kay.

So what is really issue?

Michaela Angela Davis and others are concerned with the lack of professional opportunities for Blacks in the fashion industry and that Essence, an institution, should be a place to empower, promote, and encourage the professional development of those in the industry. 

Ok. I get it.

But I like these questions asked by Nathaniel Payne, news writer for JustMeans,

"Has Essence ignored its proud history by hiring a non African American fashion director? Is the magazine justified in its hiring decision? Finally, as a society and global community, should we be doing more to ensure that under-represented groups in all industries receive priority treatment during hiring competitions?"
This isn't an easy issue. From my point of view, Elliana Placas, the White woman in question, is qualified for the job. Can Essence responsibly provide priority treatment in hiring in this post-racial America? How does Essence speak and advocate for equality in employment for Black women without the discussion becoming mired in the issues  of affirmative action and racial quotas? 


To go even further, Essence has moved away from its original mission of being the magazine for Black women. I don't care what they still say.  Its changed to be a magazine that if a white woman picked it up, she would still feel a part of the storyline, commentary, and point of view.  Time Warner needs for Essence to make money and needs to mainstream its look and advertising.  We see that in the change of the cover and the types of ads inside the magazine.  Where was the outcry for these subtle changes? Advertising is the bloodline of a magazine.  Time Warner is a business and Essence is a product.  How do you sell a Black women's magazine to the masses?  Questions, questions, and more questions....


As an advocate for equality for women, I see this as a minor issue that needs some attention but not the ammunition thrown at it. Don't think we need some international outcry when there are major hurdles and battles to be fought by women and especially Black women.  This isn't to say that I don't understand the heartfelt statements given by Michaela and others but.....[shrug].  I'm saving my protest for another fight, another battle.  Essence decided to change years ago and its just continuing its journey to mainstream [success] and believes this hire is the best to take them down that rode.

As the world turns.......

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