A few weeks after her departure from Essence magazine, islandista Constance White has spoken out very candidly about the problems she experienced there, saying that:
“I had a certain point of view about black women being central to this magazine. The boss didn’t agree with me, and the president didn’t agree with me.”
“The boss” was Martha Nelson, the white editor-in-chief of Time Inc, which has owned Essence since 2005. Constance said that despite going into the job with “passion, excitement and high expectations” she soon found that her vision for the magazine did not mesh with that of Nelson’s.
The Jamaica-born-and-bred White said that Nelson essentially limited the way black women were portrayed in the magazine by shooting down ideas she had such as a look at African American art and culture.
Truth be told, this comment is very telling because it’s been clear to anyone with eyes that Essence’s direction has changed in recent years and not for the better. The scope of the magazine became ever more limited with a lot of it focusing on haranguing black women about how to hold on to their man and reminding us that we weren’t doing a good enough job in doing so. I mean, Steve “Think Like A Man” Harvey as a columnist? Really? Steve “I’m going to give you self-satisfied relationship advice even though I’ve been married 3 times” Harvey? Is Essence here to uplift anymore?
In part I had blamed the editors for it, figuring they just had not gotten anyone as good as the original islandista Susan L Taylor (Kittitian-Trini if you please!) to helm the publication. But Constance hinted at something deeper, telling Richard Prince over at Journal-isms:
“How is it that from 2000, when Susan left — she was pushed out — we have had about five editors, including two acting editors, yet Essence continues to decline? So where’s the problem? And the editors are the black women. ‘They are disposable. Let’s keep changing them.”
Hmmmm… how indeed?
Talk de ting dem Constance!