The Ebony Magazine Drama And Why Black Women Need to Quit Attacking Each Other’s Character

July 23, 2012  |  

In retrospect, it probably – no it definitely – wasn’t the best editorial decision Ebony magazine has ever made. Put aside, if you can, the muddling of certain facts in the case and the decision to use the word, “glorious” in the headline to describe a convicted sexual offender, the story itself has long been polarizing within the community, mostly drawing lines between those who felt that the punishment was just, and others who sympathized with the plight of black men on the receiving end of harsh sentencing laws. As such, it would have probably been best to let Wilson fade quietly into his future without the assistance of Ebony.

With that said, some of the online response has been a little heavy handed, more specifically branding Kierna Mayo, Jamilah-Asali I. Lemieux, and Geneva S. Thomas, the editorial board of Ebony online, and Genese Cage, their production manager, as the “Ebony 4.” Those sorts of titles are usually reserved for criminal networks guilty of predatory acts, not the editorial board of an online magazine, which made one questionable decision in otherwise stellar careers in journalism, more specifically writing for the progress of women.

Listen, I am not so hollow to the point that I believe folks are going to agree with everything every writer decides to put out into the blogosphere for public consumption. The comment section on the columns I write make me very much aware of this point every single day.  And if the content, which has been written, is so offensive, it might spawn not only critique and analysis, but also a boycott.  Readers have that right to question what is put forth as ideology and denounce it if it fails to contribute to the conscious raising of the online community. However, one thing I grow weary of seeing is the character assassination and ostracism that comes with the airing out of grievances on the online community, especially when it is done among women, who should be allies.

This is not to say that the mostly woman-led editorial board at Ebony is above reproach. I think that McCauley, among others have every right to speak on a poor decision. While Ebony’s editorial board might have wanted to highlight the ways in which the criminal justice system routinely delves out harsh punishment for black men, they forgot that the alleged victims in this case were black women and too should be offered a sort of protectionism by the community.

However, there has to be a better way to address and confront sexism, and racism for that matter, without needlessly polarizing these women in the process as conspirators in the promotion of rape culture. A title, which they more than likely do not earn nor deserve.

Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding the Ebony article does not appear to be over quite yet. Over the weekend, there was an exchange between McCauley and Michel Martin of NPR over a request for an interview on Martin’s show, Tell Me More, to discuss the article. From what I have been able to gather, McCauley refused the request with a simple “No.” In a blog post, McCauley explained her reasons for rejecting the request (including being harassed by the show’s producers) saying, “I am not refusing to go on Michel Martin’s show because she will feature people I don’t agree with. I’m not going on her show because I don’t trust Michel Martin. She routinely hands over her platform to Black-woman-haters.”

Being made privy to the post, Martin retorted back in a comment made on Facebook, “For a person who claims to be about defending and lifting up black women, you have a very bizarre way of showing it….”

And where is Wilson in all of this? Probably at home, with his feet up, eating a sandwich. Which is why we have to stop looking for enemies within and return to keeping vigilance to the real threat around us.

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