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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Fall of Essence Magazine

Whoever controls the image of Black people controls how Black people see themselves.
Moreover, whoever owns the print media controls how Black people think about themselves. That’s why every effort has to be made to protect and preserve Black-owned publishing institutions and prevent them from falling into White Corporate hands.

Unfortunately, the original owners of Essence Magazine didn’t understand why they needed to protect and preserve their publication. Nor did they teach brothers and sisters why their magazine was valuable to the Black community. Like other Black newspaper and magazine and radio station owners over the past decade, the second generation of owners sold their business off in the face of declining profits to the big six corporate oligarchy instead of hunkering down and learning how to adapt to a changing publishing world so they could protect and preserve our Black media institutions for the next generation.

I was deeply saddened to read about the decline of quality in Essence Magazine. When it was independently owned and published back in the day it was forum where Black women could discuss the issues distinct to their struggles and social issues. A place where Black women could see themselves in a positive light. Where Sistas could be inspired to see other women like themselves and aspire to be like them.

Now Essence magazine is owned by Time Warner. Under their White Supremacist corporate leadership, the once great pro black-Pro Black female empowerment magazine has become a pale shadow of its former self.

Basically Essence Magazine today has become a chocolate covered version of Cosmopolitan. Blonde weave-wearing celebrities have replaced the dignified Black female leaders and Black entrepreneurs on the front cover. Articles about health, home ownership, career advancement, and business ownership have been replaced with articles about celebrities plugging their movies, celebrities plugging their products, fashion ads, hair care ads and Sex, sex, and more sex. The bestseller list for African-American fiction is alleged to be bought and paid for by Street Lit publishers who have enough cash to get the notice of editors under the table. Instead of an institution promoting Black womanhood it’s become a forum for niggerdom and whoredom.

Over the past decade, the magazine has clearly strayed away from its original mission. And that’s par for the course with most Black businesses. No one stayed behind to teach the next generation of publishing professionals the mission of Essence Magazine.

Time Warner’s White corporate executives clearly have no understanding that the issues of Black women are completely different than those of White Women. And that The Black woman’s world is not the same as a White woman’s.

But they try to shove the square peg into the round hole in the hopes of making profits.

Not understanding how their business decisions will impact how a generation of Black women see themselves and their roles in the Black community.

Presenting images of Black women like those in Today’s Essence is dangerous because they influence how little Black girls and young Black women today see themselves. When little Black girls see images of celebrities on the cover of a magazine like Essence, it makes them think that all they can be is an entertainer. When all they see are Black people promoting consumer products, all it makes them think about is buying things instead of finding new ways to produce them. And when all they read about is sex, it makes them think that all a woman can aspire to be is a sex object.

The Black woman is the transmitter of culture to the Black community. When she reads corrupt media like the compromised Essence, she teaches her children to focus on silly superficial things like celebrity worship and sex. With 70 percent of the Black community run by single parent female headed homes, that means the culture of the community isn’t focused on more important things like home ownership, business ownership, wealth building, nutrition, fitness, arts, culture and health, they’re focused on trivial matters like getting a man, getting the latest clothes, and getting laid. Things that aren’t at the essence of a strong community, but one that’s falling deeper into the abyss.

It’s been clear to me for years that the media Black people imbibing are one of the main reasons why the Black community is regressing instead of progressing. Brothers and sisters feed themselves mental junk food in these magazines, TV shows and movies and that’s why their minds aren’t right. It’s one of the reasons why our communities are dysfunctional and falling apart.

It saddens me to see that storied Black publishers can’t adapt to a changing Publishing world like I have. 15 years ago I saw the direction of American media changing headed when Bill Clinton signed the telecommunications bill of 1996 into law. That law allowed corporations to own more than one newspaper or TV stations. It led to the rise of the conglomerated media oligarchy of the Big Six (Time Warner, Disney, Sony, NewsCorp, Comcast, and Viacom) And as this power base rose American media became a world of bland, stale programming, with no life and more importantly, no color or culture. Outside of a few token negroes portraying racist stereotypes Black people have been ERASED from American media over the last 15 years.

With the Fall of Essence, can another entrepreneur rise to create a publication that will be a clear objective voice that talks about the issues of Black women? I believe so. In this digital age it costs next to nothing to start up a blog or have a You Tube account like I have. It costs nothing to produce an e-zine. In this digital age, black people have the power to take control over their own image like I’ve been doing over the past decade with SJS DIRECT. When a people control their own image they define the lines what the world sees and how they see it. They transmit the culture that shapes the lives of young Black boys and young Black girls. More brothers and sisters have to start taking control of the horizontal and vertical and carving out their own niche in this new digital age. 

1 comment:

  1. I agree complete... beautifully written and I chose to stop buying Essence in 2000. Susan was no longer EIC and I didn't like the change. It's over as far as I'm concerned...I will not pay for their perception of us or what they want us to BELIEVE we are.