Reverse Racism?

Essence Magazine readers and supporters are all in a tizzy because the publication reportedly hired Ellianna Placas, formerly of O: The Oprah Magazine and US Weekly. Why? Because she’s white.

Wait, what?

I’ll admit, when I first heard of this I was surprised–pleasantly. I honestly never thought that Essence would hire a Caucasian woman, I thought it was one of those self-perpetuating magazines who catered to their demographic in every possible way…but apparently they’re not, and this makes me have some faith that someday this entire country will be “color blind” when it comes to skin color.

Well, I had that faith until the backlash started. Black writer Michaela Angel Davis tweeted: “It is with a heavy, heavy, heart I have learned that Essence magazine has engaged a white fashion director, this hurts, literally, spiritually.”

Racism, racial profiling, stereotyping and prejudice are never going to stop in this country until people learn to STFU (for lack of a better Internet abbreviation). I, and millions of other people, don’t care if you’re white, black, brown or purple. Be a kind individual and we’ll be friends. Be self-righteous like Davis and we’re not going to get along.

I know what many will say, “You’re a white girl, you don’t understand the plight of the black woman in this country…”

I get it. Your ancestors were enslaved. You and your family have probably had to deal with bigots. The fashion industry ignored you for years until magazines like Essence came along to level the playing field–but what makes you think that Placas can’t do the job she was hired to do? Because she’s white? That seems like a feeble claim to me and KIND of racist.

She wouldn’t have been hired if the higher-ups at Essence didn’t feel she could do the job–they’re not going to intentionally sabotage their own magazine. She must know SOMETHING about black culture and fashion or at least be willing to delegate to those who do know more than her.

Be fair. The only thing she’s done “wrong” so far is be born white. Give her a FAIR shot at the job and see what happens. Put this behind you…pretend she’s black if you must, but at least give her a chance to fail (or succeed) before you’re demanding a recall.

Claiming that someone can’t have a job because they’re white is just as bad as denying them one for being black. It’s the SAME THING. Yes, it’s a “black magazine” but it was started in opposition to Vogue and now Vogue has black models, editors, writers.

I’m not saying that Essence should change its premise, it’s always good for cultures to be pinned down and celebrated, just don’t hate on the white girl because she wants to partake in the festivities.

EDIT:

Look at THIS story. A black Florida teenager is accused of attacking a white man for listening to rap. This is my point…Why can’t we all share and get along? It’s disgusting.

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4 comments

  1. Ang · July 28, 2010

    This post is excellent.

    Slavery was probably the worst thing to happen in this country (and still is, where it still exists around the world), but at some point, we have to move on. Celebrating your culture (no matter what culture you are) and your ethnicity is great because you shouldn’t forget where you came from, but not when it gives you an excuse to act like everyone who isn’t your culture or ethnicity (or whatever, anything that makes us different) shouldn’t be allowed to share in it. There IS such a thing as reverse racism, and chances are, if you’re excusing your actions with something that starts with “My family/ancestors/people/etc. were shunned for years because we’re black/asian/women/etc., so that makes it OK for me to…”, you’re bordering on engaging in it.

    If you embrace people’s differences, you actually discover some pretty cool stuff.

    • Caitlin · July 28, 2010

      Thanks and I totally agree with both your comments! It’s ridiculous.

  2. Ang · July 28, 2010

    A comment on the whole thing that really got me, from a Huffington Post story:

    “Fashion media personality Najwa Moses told CLUTCH, ‘How could such a prestigious title who is deeply rooted in its target audience let someone who is not even apart of the African Diaspora detonate our image?’ She added, ‘How can a White woman dictate and decide what style and beauty is for the Black woman?'”

    Last time I checked, we let MEN decide styles for WOMEN. We let ADULTS dictate styles for CHILDREN. If Moses’s statement is true, how could we let those things happen? Men can’t know what style and beauty is for a woman. Adults couldn’t know style and beauty for a child.

    Really now? We’re all human…

  3. shelly · August 5, 2010

    “Racism, racial profiling, stereotyping and prejudice are never going to stop in this country until people learn to STFU (for lack of a better Internet abbreviation). I, and millions of other people, don’t care if you’re white, black, brown or purple. Be a kind individual and we’ll be friends. Be self-righteous like Davis and we’re not going to get along.”

    White girl journalist telling black woman journalist to STFU? Something isn’t right here. You sound like a regular Martin Luther King, Jr. to me.

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