The 40 year-old African-American Womens magazine, Essence recently hired Michael Bullerdick, a white male, as its new managing editor. As the magazine prides itself on being the voice of black women, its readership is outraged about the new hire.

This is not Essence Magazine’s first bout with controversy. Time Inc. bought out Essence in 2005 making it a non-black owned publication and outraging several readers in the process.

From that time until now, there has been one controversy after another including covers of Diddy and Kim Porter and Reggie Bush (who at the time was dating Kim Kardashian) and internally, the hiring of Elliana Placas, a white Fashion Director and the unceremonious departure of Susan Taylor, Mikki Taylor (no longer Beauty Director) and finally, Editor-in-Chief, Angela Burt-Murray.

Earlier this week the new Editor-in-Chief of Essence Constance White told journalists “[Bullerdick] has no involvement in the editorial content of the black women’s publication.” Do any of you really believe this?

For Bullerdick to be at the top of the decision-making team for Essence is bound to result in some degree of change. It’s hard to say that a white man who has the number two position in the company won’t be influential in terms of editorial content. And if the magazine should be the voice for black women, can a white man lead it? That’s the question many long-time Essence readers are asking.

Last year when Ellianna Placas, a white woman, was named the Fashion Director of Essence people were NOT happy about it. The hiring of Placas, who previously worked for O: The Oprah Magazine and US Weekly, sparked a slew of angry comments and even a protest.

Judging from the reaction to Michael Bullerdick’s hiring, his position will be just as controversial.

What do you think about Essence Magazine hiring a White Managing Editor? Should his race matter?

-Krystal Holmes


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