Recently, Essence Magazine announced the hiring of Ellianna Placas as its new Fashion Director. A whirlwind quickly ensued. Why you ask? Because Ms. Placas is a white woman and Essence Magazine caters to the woman of color. The dust has yet to settle from this announcement that set the internet ablaze. Well known cultural critic Michaela Angela Davis remarked on her twitter page “I feel like a girlfriend has died.” Ouch. The reactions were so strong that Angela Burt-Murray, the Editor-in-Chief at Essence Magazine issued a statement. In it she said, “Forty years ago Essence was founded to empower, celebrate, and inspire black women to climb higher, go further and break down barriers. Our commitment to black women remains unchanged as we continue to stay laser-focused on those principles–no matter who works with us.”
My question is this: What is the plan to maintain readership when the people you cater to are upset and disgruntled? How do you regain their trust? Is it even possible? Clutch Magazine published an article about the issue here and quickly gained over 200 comments. Whether you agree with Ms. Burt-Murray’s decision or not, it will be interesting to see how people respond to Ms. Placas, and if the magazine’s sales are affected. Will they revamp the entire magazine or will they work diligently to prove that they are still the place where black women come first? I can’t wait to find out!
In the meantime, what is your advice for Essence Magazine? What do you think they should do?