Editor-in-chief of Essence magazine, Angela Burt-Murray has come forward to defend her choice of hiring Ellianna Placas as the mag's new fashion director.
"I understand that this issue has struck an emotional chord with our audience, 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."
In addition to the above statement, Burt-Murray also wrote an opinion piece of The Grio, where she further defended her new hire:
As Editor-in-Chief of Essence magazine I sometimes find myself in the unenviable position of ticking people off when it comes to matters of race…most recently my hiring of Ellianna Placas, who happens to be a white woman, to head our fashion department has stirred the passions of a small but vocal group in the blogosphere ("I feel like a girlfriend has died," stated one devastated African-American writer who not long ago wrote about coming to terms with her daughter pledging a white sorority for the magazine). Really?
I first got to know and came to respect Ellianna when she came to work with us nearly six months ago. We were conducting a search for a new director when she was hired to run the department on a freelance basis. I got to see firsthand her creativity, her vision, the positive reader response to her work, and her enthusiasm and respect for the audience and our brand. As such, I thought she'd make an excellent addition to our team. And I still do. This decision in no way diminishes my commitment to black women, our issues, our fights. I am listening and I do take the concerns to heart.
But interestingly enough, the things I think should most upset people and inspire boycotts and Facebook protests, often seem to go relatively unnoticed…When we run story after story on how HIV is the leading cause of death for black women age 18-34? Zilch. The things that really are the end of our world apparently aren't.
While the response to these important stories may not always be as strong as we would like or lead to immediate change, Essence remains committed to telling these stories. Forty years ago Essence was founded to empower, celebrate, and inspire black women to climb higher, go further and break down barriers. Our commitment to black women remains unchanged as we continue to stay laser-focused on those principles–no matter who works with us.
And there you have it.
[Image via Getty Images.]