Reverse Controversy? ‘Essence’ Fires White Fashion Director

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Ellianna PlacasEllianna Placas has been fired after a controversial two year run as fashion director for Essence magazine, reports the New York Post.

When Placas was hired in July 2010, the backlash was instant and fierce.

Former “Essence” fashion editor and image activist Michaela angela Davis unapologetically tweeted her reaction to the hiring at the time:

“It is with a heavy heavy heart I have learned that Essence magazine has engaged a white fashion director, this hurts, literally, spiritually.”I am so so hurt and confused and frankly angry by this news. I feel like a girlfriend has died.”

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“Essence” defended the hiring with the following statement:

“I understand that this issue has struck an emotional chord with our audience,” said former editor-in-chief Angela 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.”

 

While the rumble is that she was fired for the same reason many people believe she was hired — because she’s White — sources claim that race is not a factor. Allegedly, Placas and Editor-in-Chief Constance White, do not see eye-to-eye.“They had different visions for fashion coverage,” said one source to the Post.

Oddly enough, as I sat in a waiting room this afternoon, I read the foreword for the July 2012 issue of ‘Essence’ with the shiny cover of President Barack Obama, written by White. Her perspective was very strong and heartfelt, and in essence (no pun intended) stated that darker-skinned Black women have to overcome seeing those with lighter complexions and “swinging” hair coveted in the media. Also, and more specific to this development, is her assertion that Black women in general are forced to contemplate the benefits vs. consequences of being Black each and every time a Black man selects a White woman over us.

To further suggest that race played a huge factor in this, she consistently refers to Pecola Breedlove in Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” and speaks to the pressure that society places on us not to be too Black. White also speaks powerfully of how this book resonated with her in her youth.

I don’t know about you, but, to me, White does not seem like the kind of editor-in-chief who would want a White woman influencing the fashion trends of Black women. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

Whatever the case may be, under White’s firm direction, it looks like “our girlfriend” is coming back.

And among many Black women around the nation, there is a collective sigh of relief and a whispered: “Welcome Home.”
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