All Articles Tagged "constance white"
There are always three sides to a story: his, hers and the truth. Former Essence editor-in-chief Constance White has decided to put her truth out first.
In a recent phone conversation with Journal-isms, White says she was fired from her position as EIC and that the job was never what she expected when she was hired in 2011.
“I went in there with passion and excitement and high expectations. It wasn’t what I expected at all. What needs to happen is the reader is getting lost and the reader has to be at the center. To make their world smaller is unacceptable.”
White added that readers have sensed what’s been going on behind the scenes for quite some time.
She also said that a lot of her issues came from her disagreements with Time, Inc editor-in-chief Martha Nelson. White said Nelson actively worked to limit the voice of black women:
“When was the last time you saw Essence in the community advocating for or talking with Black women?”
Welp. If you listen to the conversations of black women about Essence, there is almost always a discussion about the portrayal in the magazine and how “desperate” they make women seem.
White also says she was never able to make the creative hires she desired to better the publication. In January, White says she and Nelson had a “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment and she was told to leave her position. When she asked if this was something they could discuss, White says Nelson told her the final decision had already been made.
Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications Inc., released the following statement on Friday:
“We truly wish Constance well. Essence exists to affirm and inspire Black women. We always have and we always will.”
Finally, White says although she is concerned with how Essence will continue to maintain its position in the publication world, she wishes it all the best.
Wow. What do you think about all this? Have you noticed changes in Essence over the last few years? Have they been positive or negative?
It was just two years ago, almost to the date, that Essence announced it had hired Ellianna Placas as it’s new fashion director. Coming from experience in fashion publishing that spanned 0: The Oprah Magazine, Us Weekly, Real Simple, New York, More and Life & Style, Placas certainly had the general professional credentials for the job, but there was just one thing the magazine’s readers and fans felt she was missing: African American heritage.
The hire was highly controversial for the magazine that later hired yet another white editor last year, leaving an even more bitter taste in reader’s mouths. And now after the white managing editor chapter has been closed with Michael Bullerdick getting the boot over his right-wing Facebook posts, Essence has also let Placas go. According to Page Six the reasoning has to do with her inability to see eye-to-eye with Editor-in-Chief Constance White. A source told the NY Post:
“They had different visions for fashion coverage.”
An Essence spokesperson confirmed the news with the post and didn’t comment any further except to say that the search for her replacement is ongoing. Placas wasn’t available for comment either.
Since Angela Burt-Murray was the editor who brought Placas on—and strongly defended her competency in fulfilling the duties of the position—it’s possible that with a new editor now in place, Placas’ vision no longer meshes with the overall brand. White could also be seeking to revamp Essence’s image which has taken a bit of a turn for the worse, not solely because of these white hires, but because many readers already felt the magazine was out of touch with what they wanted in a publication, and for some, these hires only drove that point home further.
Eyes will definitely be on the mag to see who they ultimately pick to replace Placas. All I can say is they better choose wisely.
What do you think about Placas’ firing? Was it based on just a clash of opinion or something more?
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When you read a headline that says “Survey paints portrait of black women in America,” you automatically get squeamish. On one hand, you think, finally, someone is asking us about us, but on the other you wonder why, and hope it’s not another story about single, black women.
The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation recently conducted a nationwide survey to develop an image of black women in America. The survey included interviews with more than 800 black women in the U.S., making it the most extensive attempt to understand the lives of African American women in several decades, and the poll touches on everything from religion and romance to careers and finances.
According to Washington Post writer Krissah Thompson, in a nutshell:
“Religion is essential to most black women’s lives; being in a romantic relationship is not… Nearly three-quarters of African American women say now is a good time to be a black woman in America, and yet a similar proportion worry about having enough money to pay their bills. Half of black women surveyed call racism a “big problem” in the country; nearly half worry about being discriminated against. Eighty-five percent say they are satisfied with their own lives, but one-fifth say they are often treated with less respect than other people.”
I’d say that’s a pretty accurate reflection and what I find remarkable about the summation is that even with the barriers we’re facing, the majority of black women are still satisfied with their own lives and believe it is a good time to be a black woman in America. This finding reminds me of the recent study that showed overweight black women have a higher quality of life than overweight white women. Both speak to the spirit of black women—we’re not necessarily strong and hard, we’re resilient and optimistic, and we take control of our circumstances.
As Beverly Bond, founder of Black Girls Rock! told The Post: “We have depth. We have pain. We have bad. We have good. We have complexity. We need to see the well-roundedness of who we are. We need to see everyone.”
The poll attempted to do that by approaching the subject from the perspective of black women rather than drawing conclusions from their outside perceptions. A few of the results showed:
- Forty percent of black women say getting married is very important, compared with 55 percent of white women.
- More than a fifth of black women say being wealthy is very important, compared with one in 20 white women.
- Sixty-seven percent of black women describe themselves as having high self-esteem, compared with 43 percent of white women.
- Forty percent of black women say they experience frequent stress, compared with 51 percent of white women.
- Nearly half of black women fear being a victim of violent crime, compared with about a third of white women.
After hiring a white female fashion director last year caused a great deal of disappointment in the black community, Essence magazine has recently chosen to hire a white man to serve as managing editor. Rumors have been circulating for days concerning this decision, which was first reported by writer Christelyn Karazin. Essence editor-in-chief Constance White (who is relatively new to her role) confirmed that Michael Bullderdick will in fact step into this executive position at Essence, “to manage production and workflow,” according to the black media blog Journal-isms. White stresses that Bullderdick will have no editorial decision making power at the magazine that promotes itself as the brand “where black women come first.”
Karazin notes the irony of the Essence tag line in her piece, given that the editorial message of the magazine expresses a lack of appreciation for black women. Of particular note is the way Essence sells out black women regarding love, in her opinion:
Personally, I care not about Mr. Bullerdick swinging his manhood all over the New York offices of Time Warner. It was inevitable. Essence has become completely irrelevant to a new segment of black women who actually feel like their smarts, looks and loyalty should be appreciated by ALL men, of all races, not just by the yearly dog-bone, “10 Black Men Who Want You!” piece geared to stroke the egos of men whose heads are bigger than a Dodger’s baseball bobblehead, and frankly don’t need it any more. They won. We lost.
Essence has taught us over the last few decades that black women should expect LESS not MORE from their partners. We should not expect to be married, because black men don’t want to. We shouldn’t expect help with raising a child, because 73% of black men don’t want to. We shouldn’t speak about how educated or well-travelled we are, because it makes black men feel inadequate.
She articulates well the feeling many African-American women have: Essence is out of touch. It has been slowly devolving into a company merely making a product that satisfies black women just enough to attract advertisers seeking to target that market. Choosing a white man to run a black woman’s magazine even at the business level is yet another public rejection of the mission Essence magazine claims to believe in. It’s certainly not black female centric.
Yes, Bullderdick is a magazine industry veteran, according to his profile on LinkedIn. And yes, Time Warner, the parent company of Essence, is a hard-nosed business before it is a servant of the African-American community. At the same time, Essence was founded to address the exclusion of black women’s perspectives from mainstream magazines. Because of this, it has a social responsibility to its audience to work towards publishing industry parity on all levels. Attempting to support this mission is one of the reasons black women read the magazine. By ignoring that central idea, yet again, Essence gives more African-American females cause to detach itself from the brand and seek affirming emotional nourishment elsewhere.
Michael Bullderdick might be a great executive, but part of the reason he is so seasoned is that, as a white male, he has more doors of opportunity open to him. This is what allowed him to garner the experience that makes him seem more valuable. But, hiring him to run a black woman’s magazine based on that criteria defeats the purpose of the publication. It re-inscribes the very system of preferences that prevent black women from attaining the same level of expertise at other magazines in the first place. Essence should be a training ground for black female magazine executives, not a place where — yet again– they are excluded from the top levels of leadership. Readers know this intuitively, and will respond to this rejection by rejecting the magazine in return.
Not a very sound business decision. No amount of experience Bullderdick has can counteract the effect of his presence creating a magazine black women don’t want to read.
Attempts at colorblind hiring are driven by noble and money-smart intentions. But in instances like these, it negates the healing power a brand like Essence symbolizes. Black women want an entity like Essence to represent us well and give us power — of all kinds — shining like a beacon that compensates for the inadequate treatment the rest of society presents. If the upper managers of Time Warner keep ruining the spiritual gift of the brand, they will soon find themselves without the audience they are taking for granted.
For now, it’s clear that Essence is a magazine where money comes first. The desires of black women? Second or third, if at all.
Essence Magazine is back in the news again because of another controversial decision they’ve made. It was only last summer when former editor, Angela Burt Murray announced her decision to hire Ellianna Placas, a white woman, to take over as the magazine’s fashion director.
Recently the magazine, which has been hailed as the black woman’s bible for decades, has decided to hire Michael Bullerdick as their managing editor. Yes Michael is a man’s name–because Michael is a man. He’s also white. As managing editor Michael will run the day to day operations of the magazine.
Editor-in-Chief, Constance C.R. White, defended her decision to hire Bullerdick.
“He has no involvement in editorial content of the black women’s publication.”
Still, the decision has left some people wondering. Were there no qualified black, female candidates who could fulfill the responsibilities of this position? Were there no women period?
In his take on the story, Boyce Watkins, professor and founder of “Your Black World Coalition” brings up a very salient point: “I’d love to see what lies in Bullerdick’s background that makes him a stronger voice for black women than black women themselves.”
One of Madame Noire‘s contributing writers, Christelyn Karazin, broke this story last week on her blog Beyond Black and White. She writes that she’s not surprised by this hire.
“Personally, I care not about Mr. Bullerdick swinging his manhood all over the New York offices of Time Warner. It was inevitable. Essence has become completely irrelevant to a new segment of black women…” You can read Christelyn’s entire story here.
So what do you think? Is Essence just hiring the best people for the job, regardless of race, or are they dishonoring or disenfranchising black women?
Let us know your opinion.
(PR Newswire) — Veteran journalist, editor and culture & style expert Constance C. R. White has been named Editor-in-Chief of ESSENCE, it was announced today by Time Inc. Editor-in-Chief John Huey. Her appointment is effective March 21, 2011. Prior to joining ESSENCE, White served as Style Director, Brand Consultant and Spokesperson for the leading online company eBay, where she developed content and strategies aimed at women. She is credited with conceiving and creating eBay’s first web-zine, as well as developing a comprehensive editorial environment. White was previously the founding Fashion Editor for Talk magazine, a celebrated Style Reporter for The New York Times and the Executive Fashion Editor for Elle magazine. She also served as Associate Editor at Women’s Wear Daily and W magazine and began her career at Ms. magazine, as assistant to co-Founder Gloria Steinem.