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Dr. Boyce Watkins: “ESSENCE Magazine Has Lost It’s ‘Essence'”

Dr. Boyce Watkins: “ESSENCE Magazine Has Lost It’s ‘Essence'”

Dr. Boyce Watkins speaks out on Essence Magazine and what the magazine might really be trying to say to America. Dr. Watkin is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.


Addressing that the revelations by former Essence Magazine editor Constance White had both intrigued and concerned him, Dr. Watkins wrote an article titled, Let’s Face It, Essence Magazine Has Lost It’s “Essence”. In case you weren’t aware, the revelations Constance White Constance White revealed that she was fired from the magazine after battling the magazine’s prime overseer, Time Warner, Inc. According to White, the overseers wanted Essence to focus more on fashion and beauty tips than on more serious issues of the day, which White felt was designed to dumb down the black woman in America.

Watkins continues on in the article speaking on the Essence Magazine he once knew:

Not to say that I was surprised, but I admittedly long for the days when my friend Susan Taylor stood at the helm of the magazine, and Essence represented something black, extraordinary and authentic.  There was a time when we fully understood that the power of media wasn’t just for making money, it was also for shaping minds.  In fact, Adolph Hitler once said that if you want to control a group of people, all you have to do is control what they read, watch and hear.

For much of my life, when I thought about Essence Magazine, I thought about black women.   Now, when I think about Essence, I think about what white people want black women to become.  The mind can be under occupation in the same way that one colonizes a foreign country, and in the space of African American media, it’s difficult to argue that we’re not a conquered and imperialized group of people.

The pressure to assimilate is overwhelming when I look at how most of the radio stations our kids listen to are owned by big corporations like Clear Channel, who don’t care that commercialized hip-hop music is teaching young boys how to grow up and become murderers and r*pists.  Television Networks like BET seem to believe that it should once again be illegal for black people to learn how to read.  Even TV One, the “good version” of BET (a network that most of us respect), is 49% owned by NBC Universal, implying that they remain officially black-owned by a mere technicality.

I’m appreciative towards Dr. Watkins for addressing such an overlooked issue. I hope that people do recognize that slowly, but surely reading is becoming less and less prevalent in today’s generation of people. There is nothing wrong with beauty and fashion or making sure that you’re always 100% with yours, but magazines that focus on the current issues and real situations are also very much so needed on the shelves.

I’m hoping things turn out better than what’s expected.



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