Tag Archives: magazines

How Can Essence Move Forward?

by Guest Contributor Chris Rabb

Essence CoverToday I learned that Michael Bullerdick, the latest managing editor of Essence Magazine–a highly influential publication whose first issue published in 1970–inadvertently outted himself on social media recently by expressing extreme right-wing beliefs that counter the history and long-standing values of the organization where he was hired last summer.

What’s notable about this story is that Mr. Bullerdick is a white man. While he is not the first white employee to make headlines–as Ellianna Placas did when she became the first white fashion director–he is the first white person and first man to be the managing editor of this publication geared to Black female readers.

According to Richard Prince at Journalisms, Bullerdick was asked to leave after his posting habits on Facebook came to light:

In one screen shot, an April 10 posting is headlined, “No Voter Fraud, Mr. Attorney General?” touting a video by James O’Keefe, the conservative activist who worked with right-wing trickster Andrew Breitbart. The same day, Bullerdick shared a photo illustration of Al Sharpton headlined, “MSNBC Race Pimp.” Bullerdick also recommends material from the conservative magazine Human Events and the right-wing website townhall.com, from which Bullerdick posted “the Frequent Bomber Program,” an article about 1960s radical Bill Ayers. Bullerdick wrote, “Obama’s mentor and friend.”

The mismatch in values not surprising to me–even though I know very little about Bullerdick, personally. What I do know, however, is that Essence was acquired in 2005 by Time, Inc.–the largest magazine publisher in the U.S.–a corporate conglomerate that well understood the cumulative spending power of Black women.

In 2000, the Black owners of Essence sold 49% of this iconic company to Time. Why just 49%, you ask? Because by retaining 51% ownership of the company, they could technically say that Essence was still Black-owned (insert air quotes here).

The owners no doubt predicted that many Black readers and non-readers alike would condemn this choice as nothing less than “selling out” at the expense of an institution that, in the field of media and journalism, has provided an important outlet for Black women to express themselves in ways that corporate media was loathe to do both before 1970–and arguably even today–in many mainstream circles, despite a few notable exceptions. Continue reading

Un-ringing The Bell: Elle France And Obama Style

By Fashion Correspondent Joseph Lamour

Thanks to the Obamas are in order, fellow African Americans! Black people–like me!–can look in a closet and not immediately reach for the saggy jeans and other “street wear codes.”

At least, according to Elle France.

For the first time, the chic has become a plausible option for a community so far pegged [only] to its street wear codes…

-Nathalie Dolivo, in French Elle
Tendance [Trend] – Black Fashion Power

Nathalie Dolivo, a writer for the magazine’s blog, seems to think that since the Obamas are so fashion-forward, they serve as a public forum to inspire African Americans to dress more fashionably in 2012. First of all, lady, this is the fourth year of Barack’s term. You’re a little late with this intensely racist idea, aren’t you?

That’s not even the worst of it. Dolivo goes so far as to coin the term, and this hurts me to type it, “black-geoisie”.  Now, we really should institute a “Sh-t Fashion Magazines Say” to add to the hundreds of others on YouTube. We have a wealth of material to work from. First we had Slave Earrings. Then we had the whole Rihanna, N*ggabitch debacle. To which Rihanna herself replied with a heartfelt “F*CK YOU”. And now this. It seems like American magazines are on their best behavior! Good work.

Dolivo uses a picture of Janelle Monae in the post to show how far we’ve come from over-sized pants, but Monae is a musician who’s particular style existed since her music was first released in 2003, well before this “black fashion renaissance” (Dolivo’s words, not mine) was to have taken place. And of course, much before public consumption as well.

The post has since been removed from Elle France’s website. Without an apology, I believe the magazine is hoping they can deny the post was published–or published in error, at least , if caught (too late for that!). Elle, you can’t un-ring a bell.

Should black folks save Ebony and Jet magazine?

By Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

This weekend, I received the following breathless entreaty through a listserv that I subscribe to:

Ebony/Jet Magazine on The Verge of Financial Collaspse (J P)
Date: Thu, 12 Mar 2009 07:45:31 -0400

One of the most notable permanent fixtures in every black household (back in the days), was the Ebony and Jet magazine. If you wanted to learn about your history, the plight of Black America, current issues facing Black Americans, how the political process of America affects you, how politics works, who the hottest actors were, what time a particular black television show aired, who got married recently, who were the most eligible bachelors and bachelorettes in your town, what cities had black mayors, police chiefs, school superintendents, how to register to Vote, what cars offer the best value for the buck, who employed black Americans, how to apply for college scholarships, etc., more than likely, Ebony or Jet magazine could help you find answers to those questions.

We have recently been informed that the Johnson Publishing Company is currently going through a financial crisis. The company is attempting a reorganization in order to survive. Many people have already lost their jobs with a company that has employed thousands of black Americans during the course of its existence.

In order to support this effort to save our magazine, my friends and myself have pledged to get a subscription to both Ebony and Jet magazine, starting with one year. We are urging every other club member who comes across this plea to do the same. Please post, repost, and post again, to any blog that you may own or support.

Please email this to every person that you know, regardless of their background. Let them know that Ebony and Jet magazines have been part of the black American culture for three quarters of a century, and that there is a lot that they can learn about black American culture from reading them.

We are currently discussing the idea of throwing an Ebony/Jet Party, where people can eat, drink, and sign up for their subscription on the spot. Please spread this idea around to all that you know. Your Sororities, Fraternities, Lodges, VFW Posts, Churches, Civic Groups, Block Clubs, Caps Meetings, Book Clubs, etc.

It would be a crying shame, to lose our historic magazine, during the same year of such an historic event as the election of our first black President of the United States.

Now, like a lot of other black people, I grew up with Ebony and Jet magazines on the family coffee table. I remember fondly sitting in the brown recliner in my grandparents’ back room reading a then-oversized Ebony with Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones and Richard Pryor on it. (Don’t know why I specifically recall that issue of the magazine, but for some reason it is one that remains etched in my mind.) I say this to illustrate that these magazines are part of my cultural history. Nevertheless, when I read the missive above, my first thought (after wondering if the message-writer understands that subscriptions generally account for far less of a publication’s revenue than advertising does) was…”Meh.” I’m not so sure that Ebony and Jet, as they stand today, are institutions worth going to the mat for. Continue reading

ALO Again: New Lifestyle Magazine More of the Same Old Orientalism

By Special Correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie. An expanded version of this piece can be found at Muslimah Media Watch.

Last summer saw the launch of ALO Hayati, “America’s Top Middle Eastern Lifestyle Magazine.” Thanks to a gracious donor, I finally got my hands on a copy of the July 2008 issue.

All lifestyle magazines have an aspirational feel to them, and this one was no different. Chock full of advertisements for Dubai hotels and Swiss watches, ALO wasn’t particularly different than any other lifestyle magazine. Considering the economic situation of magazines, it doesn’t seem like an incredibly auspicious time to launch one aimed at a materialistic lifestyle. I wasn’t able to find any updates about the magazine’s publication on the website, and as far as I’m aware, this is the only edition, though in the magazine they refer to an earlier issue in some places.

As someone who enjoys a good glossy every now and then, I delighted over advertisements with Kim Kardashian, and interview with exclusive designer Bijan, and a fluffy piece on intercultural relationships (though I did not care for the cover teaser: “Shocking Intercultural Stories”).

The magazine featured an interview with Leila Ahmed, which was a great one, likening the current western media representation of Muslim women to the same patronizing Orientalism that played out in the first wave of colonialism in Middle East. Her interview shed lots of light on the history and future of the headscarf. Despite the educational qualities of her interview, I kept thinking, “Who is this educating?”

While not every Middle Eastern person is going to be familiar with the history behind the headscarf, it seems sort of odd to have an educational feature about hijab in a magazine aimed at a demographic that has a fairly lengthy history with headscarves, even if many of them aren’t Muslim. Something about this piece tugged at me. It almost felt as if it was aimed at people who were not Middle Eastern. Continue reading

Diversity and the “Cultural Elite” of New York

by Guest Contributor Joanna Eng

The September 25 issue of Time Out New York (TONY) featured a list of their favorite 40 New Yorkers who have made an impact on the city in the past 13 years. I was appalled to see that out of the 40 cultural leaders that they highlighted, only three were people of color (Jay-Z, Derek Jeter, and Junot Diaz), two weren’t even human (Spider-Man and the MetroCard), and the other 35 were white.

Right after reading the issue, I and probably hundreds of other readers wrote letters to TONY to call them out on their list’s glaring lack of diversity as it tried to represent one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. In my letter I said, “Rather than reminding us that white people are still in power, you could have been a little more creative with this list.” And I proceeded to list several people I would have liked to see on the list: Rosario Dawson, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Jean Grae, David Paterson, Chang-Rae Lee, Rosie Perez, Majora Carter, Rosie Mendez, etc.

They must have gotten quite a number of these letters, because a week later they had posted a piece online called “Where are all the people of color?” In the article, a TONY editor basically continued to defend and justify the lack of diversity in the list, and sparked even more angry comments from readers. The response piece, in some ways, was even more appalling than the original list because it showed no sign of regret and stated even more clearly (in case we didn’t get the point the first time) that they believed that New York’s “cultural elite” was made up of mostly white people.

Continue reading

Vibe Magazine Asks That You Barack the Vote

by Latoya Peterson

In this month’s issue of Vibe, Barack Obama receives a formal endorsement from the magazine. Danyel Smith’s Editor’s Letter is an impassioned plea to get involved and help push Barack all the way into the White House. She writes:

We value freedom and aspire to be better than we are, and to live in a country that will be better than it is. We must vote for Senator Obama and for Senator Joe Biden. We must make sure our friends get to the ballot box. We must reach deep for every bit of idealism we had at the beginning of rap music. We must not be cool. We must not again make manifest the “apathy” label that has been thrust upon us. This is not a moment to be reviewed or dissected, or gazed upon from an ironic distance. This moment in history is ours. Our country will not be okay if Obama loses.

The issue goes on to provide three key pieces of political commentary: Obama’s own letter to Vibe readers, Jeff Chang’s “The Tipping Point,” a piece that explores the shifting nature of our political landscape, and a compilation of 99 hip-hoppers positions on politics.

Obama’s letter cuts straight to the heart of the apathy Danyel Smith describes in her intro piece:

Now, I’ve heard people say, “My vote doesn’t matter,” “My vote won’t count,” or “I’m just one person, what possible difference can I make?” And I understand this cynicism. As a young man attempting to find my own way in the world, I faced many of the same choices and challenges facing many of you today. I sometimes doubted that my thoughts and actions really mattered in the larger scheme of things.

But I made a choice. I chose to check in, to get involved, and to try and make a difference in people’s lives. It’s what led me to my work as a community organizer in Chicago, where I worked with churches to rebuild struggling communities on the South Side. It’s what led me to teach and run for public office. And even today, I hear the skepticism. Too often, our leaders let us down, They don’t seem to do much to make our lives better. So I understand the temptation to sit elections out.

But this year, when the stakes are this high, and the outcome will be so close, I need you to choose to vote.

Continue reading

Glamour wants to know if you have friends of other races

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

The October issue of Glamour magazine, on newsstands now, has a feature story on race and friendship among women. Read the PDF here.

It’s the second in a series of conversations the magazine has been hosting about race, at least partially in response to the controversy last November surrounding a beauty editor’s alleged remarks about black hair styles being “political.” The first installment was about race and beauty, and we gave it a luke-warm review here on Racialicious.

This article is a rehash of a discussion panel I participated in back in May at the Conde Nast headquarters. The audience was made up of Glamour staff, as well as an ethnically diverse group of media, fashion, semi-socialitey types.

Sidenote: I have newfound respect for fashion models after doing the shoot for this article. See that photo where the three of us seem oh so relaxed and casual? Um… in reality we were each perched on a narrow wooden crate, and I was literally straddling Aisha Tyler. Seriously, my crotch was like, all up on her hip, my boob on her arm, and my face on her shoulder. Sooooo… awkward. Especially considering I had met her just an hour earlier.

Anyway, back to the article.

I walked away from the discussion panel in May pleasantly surprised. The discussion was really substantive, and people were not at all shy about exploring topics one wouldn’t ordinarily associate with Glamour magazine. I mean, we talked about white privilege and white supremacy (yes, in those words), about feeling like the token, about being asked to represent your entire race, about feeling used, about feelings of rejection, etc. Not only were the panelists refreshingly forthright, but some of the greatest nuggets actually came from the audience members.

Does the article reflect the depth of that conversation? Unfortunately, no. But I guess that’s what happens when you’re forced to boil down what would have been 20-30 pages worth of text into just a few.

Still, I’m impressed that Glamour is hosting these conversations on race, and doing it in an intelligent manner that does not talk down to the reader. Let’s not forget how mass this magazine is — they’re Cosmo’s no. 1 competitor, with a circulation of over 2 million. That’s a hell of a platform, and I hope it will spark some authentic conversations about race among their readers.

Interestingly enough, the question we kept coming back to during the panel was this: How do you define friendship? Who’s a friend and who’s just an acquaintance? I’m the type who only considers a handful of people in my life to be genuine friends, but other folks have much looser definitions of friendship.

What about you? Do you have friends (real, genuine friends) of other races? If you do, what are some of the challenges to interracial friendship? What are some of the rewards? If you don’t have friends of other races, why not?

The New Yorker and Hipster Racism

by Guest Contributor AJ Plaid, originally published at The Cruel Secretary

By now, you’ve seen the latest New Yorker cover, with the Obamas garbed in the gear of the latest fear-mongering Americans’ wet dream.

Of course, people at Michelle Obama Watch, Daily Kos, Politico, and other blogs have expressed rightful and righteous outrage over the cover.

The Washington Post’s and CNN’s Reliable Sources’ Howard Kurtz said: “I talked to the editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick, who tells me this is a satire, that they are making fun of all the rumors,” Kurtz added. (Source)

Bill Burton, The Obama campaign spokesperson, responded: “The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama’s right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree.” (Source)

My current live-in partner, who works at the New Yorker, just couldn’t believe that so many people responded so angrily at the cover at the Daily Kos and other sites. He “wanted to see [my] reaction.” When I emphatically told him that I didn’t find it funny, he said, “You’re so angry.”

“Of course I’m angry. What do you expect? This is my reaction is to your employer doing something so racist.”

“I’m trying to have some fun here.”

Humph, you gotta love hipster racism. Continue reading