The pressure to assimilate is overwhelming when I look at how most of the radio stations our kids listen to are owned by big corporations like Clear Channel, who don’t care that commercialized hip-hop music is teaching young boys how to grow up and become murderers and r*pists. Television Networks like BET seem to believe that it should once again be illegal for black people to learn how to read. Even TV One, the “good version” of BET (a network that most of us respect), is 49% owned by NBC Universal, implying that they remain officially black-owned by a mere technicality.
Essence is one of the latest victims of the perpetual paper chase that turns us into the kinds of economic addicts that are produced by a racially-oppressive capitalist society. As black kids, we grow up believing that our goal in life is to sell our soul to the highest bidder, and that it’s OK to be an asset on someone else’s plantation, as long as our overseers allow us to live in the big house. This opens the door to a life of fancy cars, big houses and expensive meals at the finest restaurants, where we charge it to the game without realizing that there is a massive debt to be repaid.
Then, one day, you look in the mirror and the person you see no longer has a soul. Like the hooker on the corner who gave her baby away for another vile of crack cocaine, you realize that your worth in this world has been reduced to the size of your paycheck (which can be taken away as soon as they are finished with you). The community you love languishes and dies, while you sit in the warmth of your corporate office with a boss telling you that the plight of “those people” has nothing to do with you.
I understand this well, because I know capitalism. I’ve been teaching Finance at the college level for the last 20 years, and one thing I know for sure is that the powerful temptation of money can lead us to become something that we’re not, and it can literally reshape the structure of our psycho-sociological DNA, turning a righteous mission into an abandoned one. I believe this is what happened to Essence magazine, and quite frankly, it disgusts me.
I wasn’t surprised in the least to hear former Essence editor White say that the corporate captains who own Essence were pulling the strings and dressing the magazine up in black face. I could hear the voices of thousands of black women on our blogs who, through women’s intuition, could tell that something was wrong. I’ll keep things simple: If you want to understand why most corporations or politicians do anything that doesn’t make sense, just follow the money. Its much more profitable to sell beauty tips and relationship advice than it is to discuss controversial topics like racism, poverty or the prison industrial complex. Purely capitalist organizations are not designed to incur these kinds of risks.
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