Yes, you read that right.

From Fishbowl NY:

The door continues revolving atEssence: now, the magazine has named Ellianna Placas as its new fashion director and Tasha Turner as its new senior beauty editor.

Placas will make her debut with the magazine’s 40th anniversary September issue and will oversee the conception and packaging of Essence‘s fashion coverage, feature stories and multi-platform packages. She began her career in publishing styling cover shoots for 0: The Oprah Magazine. Placas has also worked forUs WeeklyReal SimpleNew York,More and Life & Style.

Former Fashion Editor Michaela Angela Davis had some choice words to say about Essence’s recent decision on her Facebook Wall:

“It’s with a heavy heart I’ve learned Essence Magazine has engaged a white Fashion Director. I love Essence and I love fashion. I hate this news and this feeling. It hurts, literally. The fashion industry has historically been so hostile to black people–especially women. The 1 seat reserved for black women once held by Susan Taylor, Ionia Dunn-Lee, Harriette Cole(+ me) is now-I can’t. It’s a dark day for me. How do you feel?”

….

There is one precious seat at the fashion shows that says Essence the magazine for black women. When asked, “What is your unique perspective for black women?” How is that answered? Even if they got Anna Wintour herself (which editors inside Essence assure me she is NOT) it still would hurt. From a brand perspective there should be a unique lens through which information is filtered…at Essence it is believed that filter is black, female..connected through shared history and soul…I believe we’ve not come far enough for this move.

There’s already been a lot said about this story, so I’ll try to make my comments on this brief. Aside from the most obvious argument–that having a white fashion director at a black women’s magazine raises a few eyebrows–I have to make the point that not hiring Ms. Placas based solely on her race would have been discrimination. But furthermore, Essence has been white-owned for quite some time now, so how surprised can we really be?

I do worry about how having a white fashion editor at a magazine that is supposed to be devoted to the life and style of Black women will effect the magazine’s brand, as Clutch brings up in their write-up on the news.  What does it mean when a magazine for Black women sees fit to have a white fashion editor when there were so many other (black) candidates to choose from? What about her experiences positioned her to become the editor at a Black women’s magazine? And what will she do differently that a black editor wouldn’t have done?

On the other hand, maybe we can’t judge too harshly until we see what Placas does. I’ve heard this argument several times this week, but it’s hard when as a girl I looked to Essence to see images of black beauty and style and I remember wanting to be as regal and as beautiful as the women in the magazine. Essence fashion spreads made me embrace everything that black beauty was and could be.

What does it mean when a new fashion editor of the most popular black women’s magazine didn’t grow up with that experience?

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