Essence editor-in-chief Angela Burt-Murray told Black Voices in a written statement that Ellianna Placas, a former fashion editor at O: Home and Us Weekly, is just part of Essence's growing fashion team.
"I understand that this issue has struck an emotional chord with our audience," said Burt-Murray, "however I selected Ellianna, 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."
Essence's mission is to "inspire black women to lead bold, fulfilling lives, " and several readers and former employees, most specifically former fashion editor Michaela Angela Davis, are outwardly upset with with Essence's newest staff choice.
Michaela revealed on her Facebook wall, "It's with a heavy heart I've learned Essence Magazine has engaged a white Fashion Director. I love Essence and I love fashion. I hate this news and this feeling. It hurts, literally. The fashion industry has historically been so hostile to black people–especially women. The 1 seat reserved for black women once held by Susan Taylor, Ionia Dunn-Lee, Harriette Cole(+ me) is now-I can't. It's a dark day for me. "