ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief Speaks on White Fashion Director Controversy
As we reported on Monday, ESSENCE Magazine has been under fire as of late for hiring a white Fashion Director, Ellianna Placas. Powerful media figures like Michaela Angela Davis, former Fashion Editor at ESSENCE Magazine, and Nawja Moses, media personality, have both spoken out about the issue. The one voice we hadn’t heard from? ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief Angela Burt-Murray.
After reaching out to the ESSENCE PR department and not receiving a response, we stumbled across a quote Burt-Murray shared with Media Ink:
“I understand that this issue has struck an emotional chord with our audience. However, I selected [Placas], who has been contributing to the magazine on a freelance basis for the last six months, because of her creativity, vision, the positive reader response to her work and her enthusiasm and respect for the audience and our brand. We remain committed to celebrating the unique beauty and style of African-American women in ESSENCE Magazine and online at ESSENCE.com.”
I applaud Angela Burt-Murray for standing by and defending her decision. What do you think of her statement?
Also, last night Bryan Boy from the popular blog of the same name, tweeted:
How racist is this Michaela Angela Davis woman? http://bit.ly/9M3PGG So what if a white woman is capable of handling a black magazine?
It seems several people are crying reverse racism in response to the uproar about ESSENCE’s white director. I feel they are missing the point. No one is saying Placas is not capable.
The overarching concern of women who have voiced disapproval is that the fashion industry, as a whole, is still very one-sided with white people occupying the majority of the top positions at major magazines.
If the industry was more diverse as a whole, then a white Fashion Director at an African-American magazine would feel different I believe. But the reality is there aren’t nearly as many opportunities as there should be for fashion editors of color in this business. And the hiring of Ellianna Placas means there is one less opportunity for African-Americans in the fashion industry, at a magazine that, as Burt-Murray said, “celebrates…African-American women.”
One of our readers captured the sentiment best:
“What sticks out vividly in my head is come fashion week the chair that says “Essence Mag Fashion Director” will have a white woman sitting there amongst her peers whom are all white. Not a black face in site. Its truly disheartening.”
Do you agree with Bryan Boy that the backlash surrounding Ellianna Placas is “racist?” Discuss.
And see some of Placas’ work on Ciara below via Necole Bitchie: