Come On, Essence Magazine! Come On!!

So I just saw this cover of the handsome men of Think Like a Man Too on Essence Magazine’s Instagram profile, along with another cover featuring the beautiful ladies cast in the film, which I cannot wait to see! While I think both covers are absolutely gorgeous, I am a bit disappointed that this cover of Essence didn’t feature two other stars of the film – Gary Owen and Jerry Ferrara – who are not Black. I’m not the only one who feels this way. Many of the comments on the glossy’s Instagram reflected a similar sentiment. I understand that Essence is known as the magazine “Where Black Women Come First”; it has done an excellent job of meeting that standard over the decades. People have been pointing out in the Instagram comments that Black faces portrayed in a classy light are virtually absent on newsstands save for Essence’s gorgeous covers every month. I think that that is absolutely true, but to leave out two principle actors in a movie doesn’t make any sense to me. Including Owen and Ferrara would not have diminished Essence’s goal or priority. (Also, Essence magazines have ads that feature white women – Julie Roberts’ is gorgeous and beaming on the back cover of the May 2014 issue, so it’s not like Essence readers have never seen a White face in the periodical) In fact, I think it would’ve positioned Essence even more as a leader. I’ve always looked at Essence as a unifying, open, and progressive publication. With the exclusion of Owen and Ferrara, my perception has changed somewhat.

Other people have pointed out that if it were the other way around, say if People Magazine had left a couple of Black principle cast members out of a cover shoot, people would be up in arms. In fact, I think something like that would land in Essence’s own “10 Things We’re Talking About” column in the Issues section. It would be terrible. So why is it that it’s OK for Essence to do? It’s NOT! Racism and self-segregation in this country will never end if things like this keep happening. I think it is absolutely important and necessary for magazines like Essence and Ebony to exist in our country because Black and Brown people still see ourselves being under- or misrepresented in mainstream media, but doing to White people what we complain is being done to us is not helpful. It only perpetuates the situation.

Now I haven’t received the July issue of Essence yet, so I’m not sure if Gary Owen and Jerry Ferrara are included in a feature inside the magazine or if they are included in a larger photo inside. Who knows, maybe the two actors declined to be a part of the shoot. If that is the case, although I highly doubt it, then that is a totally different story and probably a totally different post. I’m not sure if it’s something that Essence even addresses within its pages, but I really hope things like this stop happening in future issues of ALL publications. I hope this is something that will just stop across the board.

We keep saying that racism and inequality will always be around but I think it’s up to ALL of us to change. We have to deliver what we also demand.

I’m looking forward to getting my Essence Magazine in the mail, but I will admit that my feelings toward the mag have changed a bit; I’m hoping that there is a way for them to to shift back. I’m also looking forward to checking out Think Like A Man Too and seeing EVERY cast member.




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