The magazine, Essence, which is geared towards the African American community, recently hired a woman to fulfill an open position as “Fashion Director”. Doesn’t seem as though it should make headline news right? Well here is the catch: the woman is white. Hmm I read this article a few hours ago and am still sort of scratching my head about it. I am not trying to be inconsiderate or ignorant, yet I am confused as to why this is such a catastrophe for so many African Americans in the writing/editing/publishing world. The magazine is aimed towards black women which is great. I understand that their are some issues that white women cannot relate to, however there are many topics and day to day activities that all women in general deal with – these are things that should unite us. The argument would be more valid if this company was run soley by white women but that is not the case; it is one qualified, experienced and capable woman who just happens to be white.

What do you all think? Am I way off? Very curious to see what everyone else thinks. Again, I don’t mean to come across as anything more than a slightly confused, interested young woman.

In other news I was forced to ask myself a very serious question the other day.

Am I nice or just stupid? I seriously considered this question for awhile, wondering which category I fell into. Until it dawned on me that I am both. I mean you can be sweet as honey and still not have a friggin clue, which seems to occasionally be my problem. The situation that forced me to ponder this happened so quickly that it almost seemed out of my control.

I was on the train, heading to watch the bf’s frisbee game (yes, he’s on a team, yes, they take it very seriously, and yes, I love watching him! and no, I have no desire to play (sorry hun)), when I found myself packed like a sardine between two men. There I sat, backpack, purse and pure annoyance in tow when I fished out my book, flipped thru the last few pages and threw it back into my bag, feeling a sense of accomplishment – “another book off the list, woopie”. The book I am referring to is “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, it was so good. In fact it was so good that my Dad and I squabbled as to who was going to get the chance to read it at the beach. I won that battle and promised to read it swiftly and then get it back to him.

Well, while I was sitting there enjoying the last few moments left with the characters I had grown to love, I overheard my neighbors phone conversation, “one order of General Tso’s chicken. Nope, just one order, thats all. Thank you”. Instinctively I looked to see if he had a wedding band. Nope. My heart sank. Dramatic? Yes. I can’t help it. He was probably in his mid fourties, not bad looking but definitely a little quirkly. I couldn’t help but feel kinda bad for the guy. I went on reading my book, as said earlier, tossed it in my bag and then just went into my usual daze thinking about pizza for dinner and which book to read next.

Quirky neighbor – “Um excuse me but how was that book? I have seen so many people with it, any good?”
Me – “Yes, it was so good! It wasn’t what I expected but I really enjoyed it, I definitely reccommend it!”
Quirky neighbor – “Oh good, I think I will have to go get a copy.”
Me – “Oh yea, I actually just finished it, great ending.”
(This is where stupidity enters)
Quirky neighbor – “Just finished it? Oh thats great!”
Me – “In fact, let me give it to you. I’m all done and no one else wants to read it” (sorry dad)
Quirky neighbor – “Noooo really?! Oh my gosh, wow! I have never had anyone give me anything on the train before. Now I will be certain to read it! Thank you so much.”

As I am pulling it out of my bag, the realization of what I am doing starts to kick in… wait what about my dad? Shit, what the hell am I doing? Ah darn it, too late now.

Me – “Oh good, hope you enjoy it.”


The book really was good though. If I had an extra copy I’d offer to LEND it to you… 🙂


8 thoughts on “Things.

  1. Hi!! I totally liked that book too, I have the next ones on my list. And I did the SAME thing with one of the Twilight books. My waitress at the airport said how much her son loved the books, but could never get the new one at the library. So I just gave it to her. Kind of regretted that once on the plane, but focused on the happy kid. 🙂

  2. Aubrey, that was actually really beautiful. I have the feeling that you did more for that guy than you know; like you said, his situation seems like it could have been lonely and your kindness may have made a big impact on him. Not stupid at all! I'm sure your dad will understand. 🙂

  3. That's a nice thing to do with the book.

    As far as Essence goes it is a ridiculous thing but not surprising. I think many even most black people feel insecure about their race (mostly subconsciously). There is this innate feeling of inferiority and it makes people defensive. I think the “uproar” is because a lot of people feel like “white people have everything why do they have to take what little black people do have”.

    It's crazy but true and something that the culture needs to work on but it's going to take a long time. Slavery and segregation still have a BIG impact on America today but most people don't even know it.

  4. Hey, just poped over from Jo's blog when I saw the picture of Dragon Tattoo on her Blog roll. I loved the book. The movie was well done (if you don't mind swedish subtitles). I would also recomend the other two books in the series. Great reads. I wouldn't say giving hte book away was stupid. I've caught myself doing something similar more than once.

    I have to respectfully disagree with your take on the question of the white fashion editor at a black magaizine. The truth is that in America the prodoment culture is white culture. Every major fashion magizine you pick up is going to have a prodomitely white staff and there for have a prodomitely white view on the fashion world. I'm not saying that is a BAD thing, its just true. Its why magizines like Essense exisit. I think its fair to wonder how a magizine will be able to offer an authentically Black take on the fashion world when its articals are being shaped by a person from a different culture. Now Essense might as well be Vanity Fair.

  5. Thanks for your honesty 🙂 I really am on the fence here and not quite sure what my opinion is yet. I don't know how accurate your description is that “Every major fashion magizine you pick up is going to have a prodomitely white staff” but nonetheless looking at the “big picture”, are we going to continue to keep divisions like this alive forever? There has to be a better way for both the black and the white communities to integrate, in terms of fashion. By staying purely “black” and continuing to hire just black people, that does not benefit the black or the white community in any way. On a more business like note, this could be just what Essence needs to get the attention from the fashion industry that they want and deserve. If what you say is correct and I don't doubt that it is, this “white” woman may be able to get access and pull strings that others in the magazine have yet to succeed in doing. This isn't a black or white issue, in fact its more grey than anything else. Nowadays its all about who you know and because Essence magazine has been so adamant about keeping itself TO itself and not looking outside its black community, that has probably contributed to the “lack of fashion week seats” (which was noted in the article). This newly hired woman may be able to secure a better position for the magazine simply because she has put herself out there and been open to all sorts of cultures – white or black.

    I do understand the other side of the argument; wanting to give the opportunity to a black woman but Essence has been in cycle for many years and seems to still have the same problems, maybe looking outside the box will help them excell and make more of a statement in the fashion world. No?

  6. Giving the stranger on the train the book was such a sweet, in-the-moment thing to do, even if you momentarily forgot about promising it to your dad. That said, I can't tell you how many times I've found myself in a similar situation (being too nice) and I understand how you feel. If I had a copy of this book, I would lend it to YOU for you dad. 🙂

  7. I think what you did on the train was very sweet. It sounds as if the fellow needed a few kindnesses towards him.

    As far as the white woman being hired as the fashion director for Essence magazine, my understanding is that she had worked as a free-lance editor for the magazine for several months, and that she was the best qualified person for the job of fashion director. That speaks well for Essence in that race did not play a part, but that her qualifications for the job were more important. One day, hopefully, race will not be an issue for anything.

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