You Act Like You’ve Never Seen a White Person Before, Essence Readers

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In hindsight, maybe they could have broken everybody in with a Fergie cover. Ellianna Placas in September will become the Little Rock Nine of Essence Magazine when she begins her stint as Fashion Director for the prestige “black” magazine. Some black women are sweating through their Fashion Fair make up, fuming at the decision to hire Ellianna. Clutch Magazine released a statement saying

As the publication unofficially deemed “Essence’s little sister”–a growing young urban women’s online brand for news, critical commentary, lifestyle, fashion and beauty–it felt like our Mom walked us hand in hand to the center of the biggest shopping mall in the state, turned around, and left us. But we are no longer the little girls eyeballing the glossy giant who taught us how to love ourselves.

Really? Are people still so obsessed with race that they feel a white woman isn’t competent or “black” enough to add insight to fashion editorials for a women’s interest magazine? Who would they rather have, “tacky” Tina Knowles as fashion director? Would it be fine with the black consensus if Kimora Lee stamped her Baby Phat kitten emblem alongside the Essence name? These are the same readers that flipped their lace fronts when Essence featured Reggie Bush on the cover of their February Valentine/Love issue because he was dating Kim Kardashian at the time. These black women show their insecurity, hypocrisy, and jealousy by harboring on old stereotypes and actually becoming stereotypes by their disapproval of interracial dating and social integration. How can these women in good conscience reject a white fashion director when our fellow (and mostly white) Americans have elected a black president?

Exclusively associating with people of your own race is not only detrimental to your development in a multi cultural world, it truly excludes you from wonderful experiences and friendships. I personally share a Cher and Dionne-esque vibe with my best friend, a white chick from Memphis, TN who is my soul sister. We have many more similarities than we do differences, yet the differences we share have never negatively affected our relationship. If not anything it gives us a soundboard to air our cultural differences and questions about the opposite race. Racial exclusion is cosigning the ideas of extremists who practiced and promoted Jim Crow laws and advocates of separate but equal establishments for blacks and whites. Funny how these prejudiced blacks forget about the white people who had dogs sicked on them by police, marched with blacks on Washington and in Selma, and pushed for legislation to change the laws in this country. Are these black women so angry because they are not attracted to white men at black men for dating white women that they have adopted unjust racial bias against the fellowship of sisterhood?

I am sure that Ellianna Placas, a former O Magazine staffer, is more than capable of handling her new job. I hope that she is welcomed by the staff and readers as a contributing member of a team and brand that has taught women of all colors beauty, class, and elegance. Clutch Magazine should be taken to task for race baiting unnecessarily in these times volatile racial climates. Their feelings of being threatened by the choice of Essence Magazine to hire a white fashion director seems like attention whoreism more than a legitimate racial gripe.

Say black versus white, we off that
Please tell Bill O’Reilly to fall back
Tell Rush Limbaugh to get off my balls
This 2010 not 1864
Yeah we come so far
So I drive around town hard top and its off
And my Tribeca loft with my high brow and my high yellow broad
And my dark skin sis and my best white mate say whats up to Chris
Hows that for a mix
Got a black president, got green presidents
Blue prints in my white iPod
Black diamonds in my Jesus piece, my God
We ain’t tripping off that
This is a Benetton ad, (we) been up off that

Off That- Jay Z

Benneton

Jolynne and I, the 2010 Cher and Dionne

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7 responses »

  1. I agree that Clutch made some comments that were a little harsh, and readers are being a little sensitive about this issue. But I do think Essence has a responsibility to highlight black talent because let’s face it, white magazines are not hiring black editors and stylists…are rarely models who aren’t celebrities. Essence is supposed to be a lifestyle magazine from a black woman’s point of view, and as an avid mag reader and journalist I find myself scouring the Web looking for black stylists and designers and fashion from a black point of view. I could pick up any other magazine in the world to see white stylists…so yeah, I kinda expect Essence to at least keep their editorial staff black, considering their mission…there are surely plenty of African American stylists who could have filled those shoes…my job is a black owned company that has white people on the staff…yet the senior staff, the decision makers…are black…because our mission is for black people…making any sense?

    • I hear u + definitely appreciate your comments. There is indeed a disparity but Essence is obviously a trend setting magazine, + hopefully this hiring will inspire predominately white mags to look deeper at ethnic writers, staff, models, and execs for their magazine. The Sexy Mama Manifesto is a multi cultural women’s online mag that’s owned by white women who gave me my very first shot at journalism + have been awesome mentors to me and I’m sure the entire writing staff.
      Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

  2. But Essence’s mission is to be a lifestyle mag for the women in the diaspora…so I mean…its not heartbreaking…but I think they passed up black stylist to hire a white one…I doubt if white mags give any care to black writers and editors considering most of the recent (and current) layoffs in the publishing industry happened to black staff not white…black journalists are scrambling for any kind of work nowadays…so many talented, experienced, trendy, edgy whatever media professionals have been pushed out of the industry…it is virtually impossible to get your foot in the door at a mainstream pub…so yeah, black journalist are peeved because we look at pubs like Essence, Heart & Soul, Black Enterprise, ect as an oasis…a place to strive to get to…because the industry is uninviting…its kind of disheartening…you can see Fergie and them anywhere…

    • Touche!! Do u believe this hire damages the brand?? I think u should write a rebuttal 2 this article u have raised many indisputable points.. If it takes 1 white woman hired by essence to wake up the industry about diversity I think its a worthwhile thing.. Maybe they could have stolen Andre Leon Talley, Anna Wintour’s right hand @ Vogue…
      Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

  3. Newsrooms Continue to Cut Black Journalists From Their Ranks

    NEWS RELEASE LINKS

    More Diverse Nation Fails to Value Diversity in Print and Online Newsrooms

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – APRIL 13, 2010 — Newsrooms cut black journalists and supervisors at a higher rate than ever before in 2009 while the minority communities they cover grow larger. As more African-American journalists lose their jobs, diversity in newsrooms has taken a back seat according to a study released Sunday by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE).

    “It is a travesty that minority journalists would be targeted disproportionately in staff cuts,” said National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) President Kathy Y. Times. “Despite the economy we must keep our newsrooms and voices at least on parity with the communities we serve.”

    Newsroom jobs held by black journalists were slashed by an unprecedented 19.2 percent in 2009, nearly six percentage points higher than the previous year. Since 2001, African-Americans have a net loss of more than 30 percent of the positions they occupied in American newsrooms.

    The NABJ Board of Directors is scheduled to meet in the Washington, D.C.-area this weekend to discuss the recent ASNE findings and develop an action plan for improving newsroom hiring and retention of black journalists.

    “This is a key goal in NABJ’s mission and we will continue to search for new ways to highlight this gap until it is closed,” said Vice President-Print Deirdre M. Childress. “As the diversity of the American population increases, it is equally important for us to see that change reflected in American newsrooms so that stories can be told from all perspectives.”

    The number of newspapers with no minorities on their staff rose to 465 last year, an increase of seven over 2008. Another disturbing finding in this year’s study is the continued decline in black journalists in leadership positions.

    Black journalists in supervisory roles dropped by 20.3 percent to just 428 individuals helping decide what is considered news in print and online newspapers across the country.

    “It’s about accuracy,” ASNE Diversity Director Bobbi Bowman said of the objective of the census. “Can you accurately cover your community if you have a newsroom that doesn’t look like your community?”

    Bowman links the decline in newspaper circulation to the rise in the minority population over the last several years.

    “Readers are very smart and readers know whether or not their newspaper is covering news that is important and relevant to them,” she said.

    General population trends show that births to minorities are on pace to overcome majority births this year, and that the minority population will be greater than 50 percent of the total U.S. population within three decades. Despite these population trends, news as determined and as covered by the majority continues to increasingly dominate online and print newspapers.

    In 1999, ASNE defined as its goal to deliver parity in newsroom representation by 2025. NABJ stands ready to work with ASNE and media companies to reach this goal and promote diversity in the nation’s newsrooms.

    “Communities are not of one color and neither should newsroom decision makers,” said President Times. “We’ve made some tremendous gains over the years and NABJ is going to continue to be watchdogs while also seeking new opportunities for members to build their own brands through top-notch training and education.”

    • Do u believe this is journalism specific?? I’m willing to bet due to the recession that many industries have lost ethnic employees in disparaging numbers… I wonder how this cuts across social/class lines.. Thank u for the info!!
      Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

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