Apr 24, 2012

So news broke recently that Essence Magazine Editor-in-Chief, Constance C.R. White had fired Essence.com managing editor Michael Bullerdick.  The reason?? Well, a group which prides themselves on investigating journalists sent her a screen shot of posts that Bullerdick made on his private Facebook page. 

The posts which have been described as racist even by a conservative standard, are definitely contrary to the stance that Essence magazine has taken in the past.  Bullerdick refers to President Barack Obama as radical and even calls Al Sharpton a "race pimp".

Now, people are discussing whether or not one should be fired for their private Facebook postings etc and whether or not his personal views affected his ability to do his job.  Personally, I have a different take on the whole situation and I feel no sympathy for Essence magazine.

Here's why.

 You may recall last year's controversy when Bullerdick was named managing editor over there.  If you don't here's a quick recap.  Time, Inc. "urged" his hiring to run h magazine's website.  Many readers became upset and argued that a white man had no way to relate to the "Black woman" experience in this country.  I tended to agree especially since Bullerdick was never known for being fashion savvy or actively tackling issues that pertained to Black women.

The answer that loyal readers received from Essence magazine was a statement that Bullerdick would have no real "editorial role".  This completely perplexed me since his title was MANAGING EDITOR.  I have already expressed to you how much it displeases me when people try to pee on my head and then tell me it's rain. And that's exactly what Essence did when it came to the feelings of the very women who buy your magazine.

Quite frankly, I could see their defense of the man's hiring if he at least had experience working with issues that affected Black women or if he was Andre Leon Talley who is widely celebrated for his knowledge of fashion but Bullerdick was none of those things.

They ignored these facts and the concerns of the very women who buy their magazine and chose to hire him anyway.  I consider that thumbing your nose at your own customers.  What bothers me about this behavior is that some consumers, especially Black consumers, tend to still support a company that basically tells them, keep spending your money here BUT you don't tell us what to do.   

I have had a subscription (with a few minor lapses) for Essence magazine since I was in high school and my mother had subscriptions before that but last year, I canceled my subscription and I have not bought an Essence magazine or been to the website since then.  You don't care what I think? Great, I don't care if you ever sell another magazine.

I can't help but feel that the reason Essence was so quick to embrace him is because , Black people sometimes feel that if you get a white person on your side, you're somehow more legitimate.

Essence had been doing fine as a voice for Black women for decades but now this middle aged white man with no fashion background and  no history of working on issues which pertain to your readership, and now you're surprised and shocked when he acts a little out of pocket??? Get outta here!!!

My brother and I recently had a conversation that put things in perspective for me.  I was in shock and awe that Britney Spears will be making fifteen million dollars to be a host on one of those watch Americans sing shows.  My brother said, well why not she is popular.  No, I said she used to be popular and I added at the height of her popularity, she still wasn't a big cross over hit.  She had a few Black fans but come on Black people did not see her as an Adele.  With a straight face, he looks at me and says, "When you're seventy percent of the population, you don't need to cross over." I don't know why I keep forgetting that.  But I sure wish the twelve percent of the population, I belong to would learn to stick together.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your sentiments entirely. I think as a group of people outside of Africa, we are too easily manipulated and feel that we have to be liked by everyone. I don't know whether it happens in the USA also, but here in the UK, many beauty shops owned by Asians have a black woman fronting the wig and hair straightening section,but only the Asian man has control of the till. When we can control the money, then no one can tell us who to hire.