Why I’m Not Mad at Essence Hiring a White Woman

You see the pictures above and you wonder… Really?  Now people are mad?
Apparently, Essence (and if you had the Janet Jackson issue pictured above) has hired Elliana Placas as their Fashion Director.  Placas, a white woman, worked for O and US Weekly previously and according to Essence‘s editor Angela Burt-Murray, Placas has been working with the mag now for the past six months
You know what?  I honestly don’t give a damn, and I’ll illustrate a number of reasons why:
1) The magazine jumped the shark months ago.  It simply was not that interesting anymore.  Trust me, I know.  I had a subscription that I opted for during one of my son’s fundraisers.  I would say of the 12 issues I received, two or three were memorable.  It was the same damned bullcrap over and over again.  They didn’t really care…
2) The lack of Black culture.  For a magazine that was about black women, I certainly did not feel like it spoke to me.  It had a few good articles, mainly things you could find in blogs anyway though.  Granted, this isn’t a problem solely affecting Essence, but still… It felt like it was a mag that was a poor attempt by white folks to speak to me.  It was kind of close, but no cigar.
3) The emphasis on getting men.  God, that was depressing.  First, I already have a man, and I didn’t even have to set foot inside a strip club.  MIND YOU, one of our first dates was at a strip club (lol), but I used to be fond of going to strip clubs in my younger, Spice Girl, “suck my dick” days (that and it was the only place we could smoke cigarettes without getting caught by Drill Sergeants).  I really didn’t take issue with naming off the places one could find a man (because I saw it with my own two eyes) and having strip clubs be considered, but I don’t think the strip club should’ve made the list because those guys have a habit that’s hard to break anyway.  It’s not that they are all bad men.  My brother’s gone, my ex-husband has gone, my husband used to go and I’ve gone.  Then again we were all younger, less refined in our tastes and products of the good old Naughty Nineties where it was the thing to do and the place to be.  After a while… Anyway, I digress…
The emphasis on black women constantly needing men was and is disgusting.  Move on…  Essence turned into Cosmopolitan which oozes of pathetic wantonness. 

4) Reggie Bush, Sean Combs, et al.  I mean, any magazine that features dunderhead ass black men like those two needs a reality check. 
5) There are better alternatives.  I recently shelved out the money to order Pop Africana and Arise Magazine (via MyAsho.com).  I actually had a chance to preview Arise and it’s really that good.  It was refreshing.  I would like to see Essence get to that level of content.  In fact, I’d like to see more magazines geared towards black women of all sections of the diaspora.  Essence just doesn’t carry my voice as a Afro-Latina.  It wasn’t a big deal, but I think we need to do better when it comes to our publications.  Until then, I’ll be hitting the blogs for that.

6) They were mainly adhering to Eurocentric standards of beauty any damned way.  Essence lacks flavor, period.  One of the things that I find appealing about Pop Africana and Arise is the flavor that the they bring.  It is really about the beauty and the spice that black women bring to the table of life.  This is something that is inherently ours and should be celebrated.  I would turn the pages and see the same damned weaves, the same damned ideas about black beauty over and over again.  Just look at the covers above…  There was no diversity in “our” own magazine.  I can’t show this magazine to my kids proudly anymore.  It advocates a standard I can’t have them buying into.

7) I’m not down for making excuses for discrimination.  I get why hiring Placas is a problem for some folks.  I really, really do.  I’m not going to get into all of that, and no matter how much I understand, I don’t think arguing the placement of a white woman as Fashion Director for Essence is a priority.  The magazine wasn’t truly about “us” for a long time.  Also, because I try to be fair whenever possible, and in all fairness, I can’t be mad about this.  I would be PISSED if white readers became angry at Elle, Cosmo, Vogue, Marie Claire, et al for hiring a black woman as Director of anything.  It would be nothing short of racism, and quite frankly, the lack of women of color in those mags speaks to that more than anything.  But as witnessed by other magazines like Pop Africana, Canoe, etc. we can do more than just Jet, Ebony and Essence–which is arguably the only true black lifestyle magazine for women of color out there.  We can’t fall into some of the same bullshit we don’t want done unto us.  If Elliana can bring some flavor to the mag, help shed light on black designers and artisans, and really bring out black beauty in her position, then I’m all for it.  We cannot know that until we see her in action.  With that said, if she’s been with them actively for the last six months, then she’s not doing that great of a job.  However, the folks before her who were black weren’t either. 
Again I get why people are upset, and I understand all of the arguments.  I just don’t agree with discriminating against someone because of their color.  I wouldn’t want it done to me, so how can I scream about equality when that “equality” doesn’t apply to everyone?
In all reality, what this really comes down to is Essence’s lack of vision, which results in a lack of vibrancy and relevance.  Black women want more.  Until they get it, Essence will continue to lose, Elliana Placas involved or not.
Don’t get mad about it, do something about it.  I’m already mulling over some projects myself.  We already know that it is free to start a blog.  Go get some.  If anything, this is a great opportunity to be the change we want to see in how we are represented.