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Friday, July 18, 2014

This Guy Says Essence Magazine Has No, Well… Essence — It’s Kind of Harsh, But Is He Right?

Raynard Jackson

Raynard Jackson

Nationwide — NNPA columnist Raynard Jackson recently wrote a column entitled Nothing Essential About Essence where he attacks Essence Communications (the producers of Essence Magazine and Essence Music Festival) for not being Black-owned and for being “irrelevant”.

In the column, he specifically attacks this past 20th anniversary Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. Here’s what he had to say:

About Them Not Using a Black-Owned Production Design Company

According to media accounts, “…In 2008, for the first time since its 1995 inception, the festival was not produced by the original producer team. Instead, Essence Communications, owner of the festival and the Essence magazine, contracted Rehage Entertainment Inc. A new main stage facelift was designed by production designer Stefan Beese.” Essence Communications and Essence Magazine are no longer Black-owned, they are owned by Time Inc.

Maybe this would explain why EMF contracted with Rehage Entertainment Inc. and Stefan Beese to produce the event and to build a new stage. They couldn’t find a Black firm capable of taking on these contracts? If they need some referrals, I would be glad to send them a list of Black people who could do the job, if they are truly interested in the “empowerment” of the Black community as they claim.

About the Lack of Diversity on the Panels

There was also no diversity in the programming. Of their 86 “empowerment” speakers during their various daytime panels, all were media personalities, journalist, or liberal politicians. There were maybe three people who one could argue were businessmen, but that’s a stretch. As far as I can tell, there were no Republicans invited to participate, as though Essence has no Black female Republican readers?

About the Shallow Panel Discussions

One panel was about the hair texture of Jay Z and Beyoncé’s baby. Yes, you heard me right; Essence had a whole panel to discuss a child’s nappy hair.

There were no empowerment panels on the women who work in the White House for Obama being paid less than their male counterparts; there were no empowerment panels on why Obama never interviewed a Black female lawyer for the two Supreme Court nominations he made to the Court; there were no empowerment panels on the number of Black kids languishing in the foster care system while Obama wants to throw billions of dollars to support children coming to this country illegally.

In conclusion, Jackson says, “You have such accomplished women – Democrats and Republicans – yet Essence is talking about the texture of a child’s hair.”

Some would say that his criticism about Essence is very harsh, but is he right? What do you think?

To read the full column, visit: www.blackpressusa.com/2014/07/nothing-essential-about-essence