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It was recently announced that Essence magazine, a lifestyle and fashion publication for black women has hired a new fashion director. Okay, nothing earth shattering here until readers learned that the new woman in charge of dictating style to black women, Ellianna Placas, is white. "Oh no they didn't!" They sure did, and people aren't taking it well.

Media professional and former fashion editor for Essence, Michaela Angela Davis, expressed her disappointment with the choice on Facebook stating, "It's with a heavy heart I've learned that Essence magazine has engaged a white fashion director... It's a dark day for me." Wow. She went on to justify her position stating, "The fashion industry has historically been so hostile to black people -- especially women." Other black women have chimed in with their distaste with the decision as well.

I get it. I totally get it, but this perceived gaffe in hiring by Essence made me wonder if this opposition is in fact racist. Well, kinda. I remember being taught in my high school leadership class that people of color could not be racist because racism entails having the power to discriminate. I never really bought into that. One can discriminate without actually exercising any power.

If the situation were reversed and white readers of a mainstream publication were outraged that a black fashion director was hired many in the black community would likely be serving up the race card quick, fast and in a hurry. But since black people have had to integrate themselves into a mainstream, i.e. white culture, one could argue that a black fashion director at a white magazine could in fact make creative decisions that reflect mainstream tastes. And conversely, one could justify opposing a white fashion director being hired for a black magazine because that position would presumably involve having a more intrinsic knowledge of black culture, style and overall proclivity that typically comes with having lived the experience. So I can see the nuance of the offense from people who think this decision from Essence is a mistake, but it still has a racist tone. But the undertone, I believe comes from a feeling of betrayal. And this feeling of disloyalty from Essence isn't the first.

Remember when the magazine featured Reggie Bush on the February cover and poised him as the black woman's fantasy? I and other readers found that interesting because at the time Bush wasn't publicly proclaiming a black woman as his ideal. (Kim Kardashian might have a big backside, but that don't make her a black girl.) So with that and other items, Essence has a history of making questionable decisions.

I have noticed an overall decline in the interest in Essence magazine. Maybe that's because there's been a noticeable shift in delivery and tone in the publication ever since former Editor-in-Chief Susan L. Taylor moved on, taking her refined sophistication with her. I myself no longer instinctively reach for the mag on the newsstand. And that's sad because once upon a time, good or adequate, Essence magazine was the premiere publication for sophisticated black women, even if the title was won by default.

Considering that black publications are fighting against the ever growing digital world even more than their mainstream counterparts, one would think the powers that be at Essence, (um, current Editor-in-Chief Angela Burt-Murray), would think long and hard about making any (additional) controversial decisions that might (further) alienate readers. Burt-Murray stands by her hiring decision giving, in my opinion, a weak defense stating in part:

The things I think should most upset people and inspire boycotts and Facebook protests, often seem to go relatively unnoticed. Like when Essence conducted a three-part education series this year on the plight of black children falling through the cracks in under-performing schools.

Um, no. If you're going to try and tell people what they can and can't be mad about, try harder and come up with something better than an "apples and oranges" philosophy.

There's that indignant and emotional response from some of us that says black businesses should hire black people. But from a practical standpoint a business has an obligation to the bottom line, and you hire whoever can deliver results. The twist comes in how a black business will define a white candidate's qualifications for a position that involves an aspect of unquantifiable experience. In other words, can one relate to black consumers without being black?

Hopefully this controversial decision by Essence will help revitalize a mainstay in black media that's lost a little shine. With that said, if Ms. Placas can "turn it out" and provide relevant concepts that inspire black readers to be and remain fashionably fly in a way that is consistent with, and possibly improves the brand, then like it or not, Essence has done its job.

 

Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.  


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

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Well i suppose it was bound to happen after the Mag was taken over by Time-Warner...I'm curious about how an ethnic majority american female will attempt to convey messages about black fashion? beauty?  body image?  colors and cuts that look good on us, but not necessarily them?


Was Editor in chief angela burt-murray forced to make this stupid decision by time-warner?


Like countless other commenters have said, if i wanted to read about fashion from the perspective of people who believe britney spears, jessica simpson, blake lively etc are the epitome of beauty and fashion, i'd read cosmopolitan...


eventually they'll replace Angela Burt Murray with an ethnic majority female and Essence will be gone.

Time Warner owns 51% or more of Essence Magazine. …that’s it in a nutshell.

White owned, controlled and operated, therefore White rule with Black input for final consideration only ...The Black corporate executives of Essence were going bankrupt and had to sell in order to survive during this recession…. So along comes Time Warner with the much needed positive business position & cash infusion and Essence gave up their majority share when they sold which means that all final decisions & decision making rights (51& to 49%) when they sold their majority share of ownership to Time Warner…which makes Essence no longer a Black owned magazine only Black owned in name only.


You sell out, you lose your rights to your new bosses.

And this statement from the editor Angela Burt-Murray:

"I understand that this issue has struck an emotional chord with our audience," said Burt-Murray, "however I selected Ellianna, who has been contributing to the magazine on a freelance basis for the last six months, because of her creativity, vision, the positive reader response to her work and her enthusiasm and respect for the audience and our brand. We remain committed to celebrating the unique beauty and style of African-American women in Essence magazine and online at Essence.com."…just corporate window dressing to appease you.

And all you will see are the same Black faces that represent Essence but Whites (who you won't see in public but you slowly will see starting with the White editor) are behind the scenes in control pulling the strings of Essence editor-in-chief Angela Burt-Murray. She may have not wanted the White editor but instead a Black one but her decision was not the final one....she was probably in the minority vote and she (and her team) just has to roll her eyes, grind her teeth & just suck it up…and sell to you that it was her decision alone…. So goes the power of the 51% White ownership share.


Essence is first and Ebony, Jet and Black Enterprise will stubbornly soon follow. It's no longer about being "Black" but about being "green" and survival...the world wide web (Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, texting etc) has cause published print media to die a continuing slow death...getting your media info on line and the $$$ (not the post office, mailman & the mailbox) is the reality...and the White Time Warner CEO knows that.

Kill a national & cultural African American brand in order to save itself...anger, piss off and alleniate it's Black customer base and go after that White dollar...fade to White...business as usual.

 

 

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and the White Time Warner CEO knows that.
  And they also know who bring in that "black" dollar[billions of black consumer dollars for that matter]. And if they continue to piss off black folks in regards to how they handle this touchy black image thang...it will no longer be about being in the green or survival.  They will see black folks do what they always do...create another dynamic black format designed for us and cease buying those magazines.  Cuz I'll tell you I stopped buying Jet and Ebony years ago....and only recently purchased Ebony simply cuz my President, his wife and the family were on separate issues.  Otherwise...I would continue to reluctantly read or scan through them in the dental/doctor's office....cuz I feel seriously that those folks have literally RAPED what it means to be black by ignoring and disrespecting our perspective and how we view ourselves...cuz for the most part this black image truly belongs to us and that's sumthing "money" can NEVER  buy....cuz why?  We are NOT for sell....but!  I'm just sayin.
Amazing how you fools still don't realize just how obsessed whites are with blacks.


You idiots should already know that just about all black media (99.9%) is consumed by whites, which is exactly the demographic companies who advertise are looking to reach. That magazine probably has a sizeable % of white women readers.


Which is why the publication slants heavily towards the sorry black woman narrative since that is what white women like to see/read/hear. Therefore the magazine provides that demographic with the content it craves. Which means companies are eager to pay for advertising.


Its pathetic that most blacks are so anti-intellectual they can't even recognize even the most basic of things.
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It was recently announced that Essence magazine, a lifestyle and fashion publication for black women has hired a new fashion director. Okay, nothing earth shattering here until readers learned that the new woman in charge of dictating style to black women, Ellianna Placas, is white.

Yawn......So what? Whites have used similar arguments to denigrate the appointment of blacks to positions of authority, supervision, decision making and power. Other than having white skin, what else do we accurately know that disqualifies this woman? And how do the haters and harpies know her tenure will be catastrophic for so-called black women’s fashions? What proof or irrefutable facts can anyone provide (other than skin color) to prove this woman is not qualified for the job? Just asking a question….. 

Don’t forget, the day after Obama's presidential victory, a major television journalist in Austria, publicly stated (on camera) that he “wouldn't want the Western world to be directed by a black man." A prominent lawmaker stood up in the Polish Parliament called Obama’s ascendance to the White House, "the end of the white man's civilization." These types of racist comments were based on race and not performance or professional history of the suspect individual. Same goes for this white woman. I would at least give her a chance to see if she can do the job rather than judging her potential based on race as those European (and American) racists judged Obama (for being black).

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Yawn......So what? Whites have used similar arguments to denigrate the appointment of blacks to positions of authority, supervision, decision making and power. Other than having white skin, what else do we accurately know that disqualifies this woman? And how do the haters and harpies know her tenure will be catastrophic for so-called black women’s fashions? What proof or irrefutable facts can anyone provide (other than skin color) to prove this woman is not qualified for the job? Just asking a question….. Don’t forget, the day after Obama's presidential victory, a major television journalist in Austria, publicly stated (on camera) that he “wouldn't want the Western world to be directed by a black man." A prominent lawmaker stood up in the Polish Parliament called Obama’s ascendance to the White House, "the end of the white man's civilization." These types of racist comments were based on race and not performance or professional history of the suspect individual. Same goes for this white woman. I would at least give her a chance to see if she can do the job rather than judging her potential based on race as those European (and American) racists judged Obama (for being black).
Yawn!



Your coonery is getting tiresome, Ward. You have an uncouth discourse on matters of race and reality it's predictable; whenever someone speaks of Black emancipation from a white dominated society, you scream reverse racism. Either you're screwing white women or white men are screwing you. Pick your poison ... which is it?


For far too long the culture and imagery of Black women and men in publishing and entertainment has largely been at the mercy of White male and White female editors. You deny this? When I read laughable comments such as yours defending Essence’s new hire as being colorblind and “hiring the best person for the job regardless of race” is a fallacy because it falsely implies two things: 1. Being Black is little more that a superficial construct and not a culture 2. ethnic heritage shouldn't’ play a part in hiring people for a magazine which celebrates the look, identity and culture of a very SPECIFIC community.


How is it the overwhelming majority of the leading editorial positions in most magazines are held by whites? Essence was one of the few mags where Blacks actually had their own voice and genuine input in shaping what hits the pages targeting them. So now this one isolated mag that caters to Blacks which appointes someone non black is an example of diversity? This suggest 99.9% of the editorial decisions on beauty and fashion are being made by non black people with .01% being a meaningless statistic. That is not an example of diversity. When Blacks make up more than 13% of the country. Get over yourself!


If Blackness is little more than skin color, then Essence probably shouldn't have any Black staffers or models or vendors. But nobody buys your BS because we all know being Black is a culture, an ethnicity, and a heritage of which skin-color is an integral part. Having establishments that celebrates the Black perspective and identity is not racist, It is freedom and diversity. Not unless you believe living in a fake white washed world of yours with no Black voice is the ideal vision of reality.
Last edited by Dissident
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Your coonery is getting tiresome, Ward. You have an uncouth discourse on matters of race and reality it's predictable; whenever someone speaks of Black emancipation from a white dominated society, you scream reverse racism. Either you're screwing white women or white men are screwing you. Pick your poison ... which is it?

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! This is funny. I can see your simple minded black cracker mentality is identical to those who were responsible for embracing and implementing racial segregation, Jim Crow laws, discrimination and other forms of racist demagoguery. I simply stated the woman should be given a chance to see if she can do the job. Nowhere did I mention ignoring or dismissal of black culture or history of past/present discrimination against blacks for positions of power and authority. What do you know about her skill set or professional abilities? Do you have any personal information about her that disqualifies her other than race? Probably not. But your rabid reactionary Negrology will not allow the possibility of her performing because she is white. Your vitriolic rant reminds me of the whites who reacted to Jackie Robinson to the totally white major baseball league. When Branch Ricky sent Robinson to the Montreal Royals in 1946, Clay Hopper (Royals manager) begged Ricky not to do so. He reasoned that Robinson’s intrusion was an insult to white people and white culture.  He asked Ricky, “ Do you really think a nigger is a human being?” He recoiled (like you) at the thought of a black man invading an all white sport. How does your race baiting doltish vomit differ? Answer: It doesn’t! Thank God there are people who are willing to give people the opportunity to perform regardless of their genetic heritage.

One more thing. I have issues of Essence (along with Jet, Sepia and Ebony) magazines in my magazine archives that date back to its original black and white format (1970). I have studied the magazine so I am very familiar with its schema, metamorphosis and format changes over the years. So there is nothing you can possibly tell me about the origin, purpose and intent of the publication. Your whiny racist blubbering, historical convolutions and unwarranted incongruous personal attacks carry no weight…...
Dissident Reference:
If Blackness is little more than skin color, then Essence probably shouldn't have any Black staffers or models or vendors. But nobody buys your BS because we all know being Black is a culture, an ethnicity, and a heritage of which skin-color is an integral part. Having establishments that celebrates the Black perspective and identity is not racist, It is freedom and diversity. Not unless you believe living in a fake white washed world of yours with no Black voice is the ideal vision of reality.
Yeah that!  On a different website there were a lot of sistas casting the reactions to the situation as reverse racism which is surprising to me given the history of black imagery in western societies.  Many felt the need to defend the newly hired european-american fashion director...


BUT...the person herself is really not the issue IMHO.  It's not about HER personally.  Essence Magazine has had staff members of all persuasions for a long time.  For me it is about THE CHOICE that a Black Magazine catering to Black women has made to have a nonblack person directing, editing, and conveying information to black women regarding fashion, which is an aspect of imagery.  Either Angela Burt-Murray doesn't recognize the need for blacks to determine black imagery (which is disheartening) or Time-Warner forced her to make this choice (which is still disheartening)  Would we find an Asian Fashion Director at a publication directed toward Hispanic women?  Would we find a Hindu Director of a publication aimed at Christians?


I think JWC once wrote something like: We bend over backwards  to prove we are fair and go out of our way to make ourselves look unbiased until we hurt ourselves





I think it's true in this case.
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Yeah that! On a different website there were a lot of sistas casting the reactions to the situation as reverse racism which is surprising to me given the history of black imagery in western societies. Many felt the need to defend the newly hired european-american fashion director... BUT...the person herself is really not the issue IMHO. It's not about HER personally. Essence Magazine has had staff members of all persuasions for a long time. For me it is about THE CHOICE that a Black Magazine catering to Black women has made to have a nonblack person directing, editing, and conveying information to black women regarding fashion, which is an aspect of imagery. Either Angela Burt-Murray doesn't recognize the need for blacks to determine black imagery (which is disheartening) or Time-Warner forced her to make this choice (which is still disheartening) Would we find an Asian Fashion Director at a publication directed toward Hispanic women? Would we find a Hindu Director of a publication aimed at Christians? I think JWC once wrote something like: We bend over backwards to prove we are fair and go out of our way to make ourselves look unbiased until we hurt ourselves I think it's true in this case.
I understand, sister Nspirit. The problem with people like Xeon and those you mentioned on another forum is that they suffer from a severe case of low self-esteem due to their beat down by white supremacy. These self-hating losers have a desperate need to prove blacks are not racist (others try to prove blacks are just as racist as whites) to gain white approval and acceptance. I pity these people. These lost souls understand all to well that just because their white colleagues and companions may befriend them today they can be their worst enemy tomorrow if they do something to displease them which is why they exacerbate their self-hatred and loathing of Black emancipation. In fact these sick apologist believe those who are on the receiving end of institutionalized racism should shoulder the responsibility of fixing race relations. Chronic fools they are. These loathsome degenerates dare not be critical thinkers or challenge white hegemony. Xeon’s frequent and derogatory use of the word Negro and attack on Black consciousness makes it clear he’s in awe of whites.



Regarding the original topic of discussion, many Black owned businesses tend to be multi-cultured from the top positions on down to the bottom, where as white businesses IF multi-cultured are multi-cultured on lower tier positions and the top jobs tend to remain firmly white. If the elite positions in a white company just happen to be multi-cultred, it's often not diversed with any Black employees but some other so-called minority. Another hegemony I am sure self-hating cowards like Xeon conveniently overlook.



Have a great weekend, sis NSpirit.
  The point of these magazine....was BECAUSE OF SKIN COLOR  To have our own voice in matters that define US!!! That's why these magazines were so important and vital to the black community.  It doesn't take a genius to understand that.  Cuz it is ABOUT skin color.  Our diverse skin color....from tan to blue black signifies the unity that kept us together as we fought against massa and his white skin racism.  Cuz it was this mindset that tried to signify why we were inferior.  And now that the tables are turned, if you will, massa is shocked that skin color is an issue in regards to who is identifying us in all  areas of people activity...especially in the fashion world.  Cuz it is the same backwards ass attempt to look to a white whore to define our beauty and she DOES NOT qualify or even close to even KNOW.  Today, Tomorrow and in the far far future she will NEVER qualify as long as massa's gay boy in the fashion world says to this white whore, who has NO fashion sense herself of what beauty is, that  women are supposed to look like that is: starving/pale as hell females wearing the dress size of a 10 year old boy.  This fashion stigma is something most MEN do not UNDERSTAND....whatever color.  So.  Please don't try to minimize what is happening to what WE CREATED for us by us simply cuz you obviously don't have a clue how this will effect black women.  Just.  Sit. your azz down and shut the fock up!  It's not YOUR fight.  Cuz no white whore is gonna try ME what black beauy is.  Nope!  Cuz why? I will repeat for clarification:   The whore doesn't and will never qualify to know ....but!  I'm just sayin
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I understand, sister Nspirit. The problem with people like Xeon and those you mentioned on another forum is that they suffer from a severe case of low self-esteem due to their beat down by white supremacy. These self-hating losers have a desperate need to prove blacks are not racist (others try to prove blacks are just as racist as whites) to gain white approval and acceptance. I pity these people. These lost souls understand all to well that just because their white colleagues and companions may befriend them today they can be their worst enemy tomorrow if they do something to displease them which is why they exacerbate their self-hatred and loathing of Black emancipation. In fact these sick apologist believe those who are on the receiving end of institutionalized racism should shoulder the responsibility of fixing race relations. Chronic fools they are. These loathsome degenerates.....blah...blah...blah......

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Oh Lord! This is so funny I had to read it twice. I shouldn’t respond to this mindless drivel but I’m having such a good day, I’ll try to be brief with my response. First of all, even though I don’t have a fraction of posts as others on this forum, anyone who has read all of my commentaries (and have enough brain cells to remember) will clearly see that I do not mince my worlds when addressing white racism or unjust treatment of blacks (or anyone else).  You have chosen to cherry pick comments and references to posts where I was critical of poor and inexcusable black behavior. This has absolutely nothing to do with “self-hating, low self-esteem or seeking white approval”. Such cheap transparent accusations are standard and predictable faux pas tools that are overused by overly sensitive race paranoiac Negroes. They are completely intolerant of anyone (especially another black person) who disagrees with their astringent Tar Baby politics.

I have harshly addressed white race baiters and racist occurrences without fail in this forum. But as I said before, you have chosen to cherry pick my criticism of black irresponsibility and personal failure as my steadfast mantra. Unlike you, I have standards that address poor and bad behavior regardless of race, gender or ethnicity. Bottom line: I do not give free passes for contentious inexcusable behavior to black people or anyone else.

Secondly, your tired rancorous personal attack against me says more about you than the very issues you are complaining about (with me). You have attempted to give credibility to your acerbic comments about me because of your tissue thin skin sensitivity of any criticism of black people that I may point out (which is justified and accurate). And attempting to justify your indignation by spewing weak litigious nationalistic Negro rhetoric and erroneous accusations of race betrayal and self-hate, is laughable. Please point out one post I made that unfairly or inaccurately excoriated black people. You can’t! End of subject…….

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