It seems that Essence Magazine is no longer about empowering and inspiring Black women. Constance C.R. White is the former Editor of Essence magazine and she has let the cat out of the bag. She shares that she did not leave the top Black women’s magazine of her own accord but was actually let go because she disagreed with the direction the magazine was going.
According to White, when Time Inc took over the magazine, which was previously Black owned, they increasingly made an effort to “limit the way black women were portrayed.” White says that she disagreed with this new direction and constantly had disagreements with her bosses and they eventually told her that they were letting her go.
“I went in there with passion and excitement and high expectations,” White told Journal-isms, referring to her 2011 hiring. “It wasn’t what I expected at all.
What needs to happen is the reader is getting lost and the reader has to be at the center. To make their world smaller is unacceptable,” White said by telephone. “A lot of the readers have sensed” what is happening, she said.
Essence, the nation’s leading magazine for black women, was originally black-owned but has not fared well under Time Inc. ownership, White maintained. Nelson [Martha Nelson, the editor-in-chief of Time Inc.] vetoed such pieces as a look at African American art and culture, and “I was not able to make the creative hires that needed to be made,” White said.
White’s story adds additional doubt to the notion that Essence can be considered a legitimate advocate for black women when black women are not being allowed to make key decisions for the magazine. This was the concern for millions of readers when the magazine was purchased by Time Inc. Since the merger took place, the content became lighter and less-controversial in tone, focusing on a steady staple of relationship advice, beauty tips, and more advertising than ever before.
She elaborated by email, “When was the last time you saw Essence in the community advocating for or talking with Black women?
“No more T-shirts with a male employee’s face on it being distributed at the [Essence] Festival.”
Essence announced White’s departure in a terse statement on Feb. 8. No explanation was given.