Black Women No Longer Have Their Essence

May 26, 2011


Raynard Jackson


Essence Magazine used to be the preeminent magazine for Black women in the U.S.  They, like many Black publications, have lost their relevance; and in the process become an embarrassment to the very group they claim to target.


Essence was founded in 1968 by Ed Lewis, Clarence Smith, Cecil Hollingworth, Jonathan Blount, and Denise Clark.  Their initial circulation began at around 50,000 per month and now is estimated to be over 1 million per month.  It is a monthly publication focusing on Black women between the ages of 18 and 49.  Essence was bought out by Time Inc. in 2005, thus no longer being a Black owned publication (similar to B.E.T.).


The impetus behind the founding of Essence was to show a side of Black women that was never portrayed in the mainstream media.  Images of Black women were controlled by white media outlets that had little to no knowledge of the Black community.  Most of these images were very stereotypical and lacking substance.


There were unique issues relevant to Black women that other publications were totally ignorant of.  Black women could not wear the same makeup that white women could---there are differences in skin type.  Black women have unique issues when it comes to styling their hair—there were no mainstream publications that dealt with these differences.


So, initially, Essence met a very real need and provided a venue for Black women to share common experiences with each other (remember, this was pre-internet days when you didn’t have all the instant communication we have today).


Essence portrayed Black women in the most positive of lights.  They made Black women feel proud to be Black and female!  That was then, this is now.


Now, Essence is just another Hollywood rag (focused on Black women), sprinkled with a few substantive, positive stories; but, that is no longer their focus!


I looked at the cover picture for the past year and each cover featured an entertainer.  Isn’t this the same stereotyping that we have accused white media of—showing Blacks as only entertainers?  There is nothing wrong with having entertainers on the cover, but is that all there is to offer Black women?


I can guarantee that most Black women have never heard of Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, Alicia Jillian Hardy, or Katie Washington.


When I went on Essence Music Festival’s website and looked at the speakers listed under “Empowerment”I was stunned and quite embarrassed!


The Essence Music Festival is the nation’s largest annual gathering of Black musical talent in the U.S.  It is a 3 day event filled with cultural celebrations, empowerment panels, and nightly entertainment by some of the biggest names in music.  It is held in New Orleans, LA every July.  The event attracts more than 200,000 people.


One of the speakers listed under “Empowerment” is “NeNe” Leakes.  She is one of the main characters of the reality TV show, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.  The show is about the private lives of women who are dating or is married to successful men in the Atlanta area.


Leakes is a foul mouth, angry, nasty person on the show and from media accounts in real life also.  She is also the founder of Twisted Hearts Foundation (which focuses on domestic violence against women).  They were forced to close down last year after being suspected of money laundering.  Leakes is also a former stripper.


One of the other speakers listed under “Empowerment” is Shaunie O’Neal, former wife of N.B.A. great Shaquille O’Neal.  She is the executive producer of “Basketball Wives.”  The women’s only claim to fame is that they either dated or were married to a pro basketball player.  They have nor had no identity outside the athletes they were involved with.


Both shows portray women in the worst light imaginable—using high profile men to get fame and fortune.  These women then try to exploit their former relationships to get their own TV show.  They are paid to tell the most intimate details of their former relationships.


Essence, could you please tell me how these two women fit into your mission of uplifting the Black woman?  What can they teach women about “empowerment?”  Is this really the image of Black women Essence wants to promote?  There are many women who could fit into your mission statement. 


By the way, Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander was the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in America (1921).  Alicia Jillian Hardy is the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D from M.I.T. in mechanical engineering (2007).  Katie Washington, a 21 year old, became the first Black female valedictorian in the history of  Notre Dame University (2010).  She gave a wonderful speech (


One would think that Ms. Hardy and Washington deserved to be on the cover for their achievements; and most assuredly know a little something about empowerment!  Oh, I forgot, they are not entertainers, so they don’t qualify. 


In times past, Black women used to look forward to reading Essence Magazine for upliftment.  That was then, this is now.  Black women no longer have the Essence of their mother and grandmother.


In Essence, there is no essence!


Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm.  He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine ( & U.S. Africa Magazine ( 

Votes: 0
E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of TheBlackList Pub to add comments!

Join TheBlackList Pub


  • Chicago-Midwest
    Black America when will you learn to always consider the source first and the motivation second?



    The higher you go the more pressure you find until you break through the gravitational pull of the Planet Earth however it is your competitor’s job to not let that happen.

    As far as the black woman’s competitors are concerned Michelle Obama has gone way to far in excelling, promoting and presenting to the world the black woman’s capabilities, natural history, beauty, splendor and the heavenly possibilities bestowed upon your royal existence..

    The black woman must be stopped, brought back down to earth and put in her place as she gets closer and closer to claiming her rightful place upon the throne as God’s original woman.

    It is your competitors job to break your will, lower your self-esteem and overwhelm your mind with feelings of worthlessness and defeat but since black women can read and write they cannot attack your intelligence with a frontal assault so they attack and seek to undermine and destroy your self-esteem through your vanity.

    Your competition knows that there is nothing new under the sun that has not been written about nor sang about and in this case the temptations years ago coined these lyrics of their choice in a song:

    “Once a wise man said to me this advice I give you free, a woman lives by vanity so fan the flame. Always keep her hopes up high make her laugh don't make her cry, make her feel she's your all in all even if she is only 3 feet tall, fan the flame.” A woman needs love and affection so give her a little each day.

    Once your competition know what makes a black woman tick then by reason of logic and deduction doing the opposite breaks a woman down therefore to break her spirit, self-esteem and confidence simply promote the opposite about her.

    Women however are masters at considering the source and therefore if another woman, race or ethnic group attempts to try it the results upon the black woman spirit, self-esteem and confidence is less than stellar but this is not to say that they did not try it first before they figured that out.

    Before they figured out that the only person that could fatally affect the black woman physic to the breaking point is their black men they tried various spinoffs of the same strategic such as:

    Can We Really Accept The Female As The Breadwinner?
    42% of Black women are not married
    Is the black woman ugly?
    Study Shows 1 in 5 US Women Have Kids With Multiple Dads

    Just like AIDS and The American Idol once they perfect the equation they go for total race exclusion and maximum impact.

    They finally figured out that hearing negativity from the black woman's own black men that they sleep with and have children for will definitely do the devastating damage they seek to inflict upon the black woman’s career, self-esteem, confidence, moral and upward mobility.

    Just like clockwork the black women competitors put it out there to the envy and delight of the jealous black men and with the quickness they are more than willing to carry the planted, contaminated news of self-defeat to the ears, enclaves and conclaves of the black American stronghold.

    They called upon the baldhead and treacherous likes of Steve Harvey, Tyler Perry, Gary Johnson, Raynard Jackson, Tavis Smiley, Cornel West and the male homosexual black community.

    What will it take for the black man to stop being such a vagina and take responsibility for defending our right to exist because as of this writing black men are the real pussies?

    Within the last several months and overtime a new report comes out detailing the impoverished economic condition of black America and the liberal arts black men immediately began disseminating the dire predictions of the black woman’s gloom and doom.

    A lot of you gullible black men remind me of the myriad of retired black men that congregate at these McDonald fast food establishments, order the senior cup of coffee with free refills and spent the morning talking, talking and talking.

    Stop all the talking, pontificating, grandstanding and opinionating. Stop working against the black woman.

    Do the math black man by formulating a workable equation and let's get it on.

    We black men have an invested and undivided interest in seeing that the black woman is successful in establishing and reclaiming her rightful place upon the throne as God’s intended original Eve.

    The black woman is our greatest, largest, most important and most invaluable investment and asset.

    Rally around our united interest and stop being the town crier of intentional and deliberate planted and orchestrated bad news that seek to destroy the black woman.

    Take your place as male defenders by formulating into a mathematical driving force to penetrate and insert us as a people into the 21st century marketing equation that is resisting our presence, inclusion, contribution and participation.

    Sincerely, Enoch Mubarak
    President/CEO Mubarak Inter-Prizes
This reply was deleted.