The Internet is blazing with scathing comments from Black women who are extremely upset at “Essence” magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Angela Burt-Murray. Why? Because according to media reports, Essence has added Ellianna Placas, a white woman, to their staff. Placas will serve as the magazine’s fashion editor.
For some, this may seem like not a big deal. For many Black women in the industry it is a slap in the face. They argue that the fashion industry is white washed, making it hard for Black women to get and keep prominent positions in the industry. The fashion director position at “Essence” was seen as a given. It was the position that Black women knew would be there for them.
One of the loudest critics of the decision has been “Essence” former fashion editor Michaela Angela Davis. Davis tweeted: “It is with a heavy heavy heart I have learned that Essence magazine has engaged a white fashion director, this hurts, literally, spiritually.”
Davis’ tweet spurred a host of retweets and Facebook comments. It has also spawned a lot of conversation on the web.
Urban pop culturalist and writer for HuffingtonPost.com Cocoa Popps argues that Davis’ statements and thoughts are racist in nature:
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 what does the hiring of Placas mean for the millions of Black women that read the magazine each month?
Let us know what you think. Will the decision to hire Placas make you end your subscription to “Essence?” Will it keep you from picking it up off the news stands? Or is it, as Cocoa Popps suggests, a continuation of the betryal and disloyalty that has become common for “Essence” in recent years?
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