Last month, Essence readers were shocked to find out editor-in-chief Constance C.R. White would be leaving the magazine. She released the news of her departure in a statement without much explanation, but in a recent interview with Journal-isms, she finally revealed why.
The former editor-in-chief said she was “involuntary” asked to leave the magazine after repeated disagreements with Time Inc. editor-in-chief Martha Nelson.
“I had a certain point of view about black women being central to this magazine. The boss didn’t agree with me and the president didn’t agree with me,” she wrote.
When she was hired in 2011, White said she “went in there with passion and excitement and high expectations.” But, she revealed, “it wasn’t what I expected at all.”
Essence is known as the nation’s leading magazine for black women, but White accused Time Inc. of putting too many limits on the brand. “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.’ she said. “When was the last time you saw Essence in the community advocating for or talking with Black women?”
White said conflicts between the magazine and Time Inc. have been happening since the publishing company purchased Essence Communications, 49 percent in 2000 and the remaining 51 percent in 2005. “How is it that from 2000, when Susan [L. Taylor, longtime editor] left — she was pushed out — we have had about five editors, including two acting editors, yet Essence continues to decline? So where’s the problem? And the editors are the black women. ‘They are disposable. Let’s keep changing them,’” she said. “The point is, it didn’t start with me.”
White said the final straw came in January. “My boss said, ‘you know what? It’s time to go.’ I was asked to leave my position. I asked, ‘Was it something we can discuss, or has the decision been made?’ She said, ‘The decision has been made.’”
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