I knew I wanted to write as early as middle school. Ms. Knowles and the school paper are some of my fondest memories of an otherwise dismal period of time. I lost track of that dream somewhere along the way, looking for my calling in all of the wrong places but now that I’m back I see a most disturbing trend. I see the push the silencing of ME a woman of color a woman with so much to say about the world of mainly injustices around me.
I see that when it comes to MY freedom of speech there is a need to stifle because I may offend the wrong person. There is a need to edit and fret over every piece and manuscript because my language may not be acceptable to the masses. I may offend someone with my everyday existence and speech. The sassiness in my words is just too much to bare. I’m told to stay humble but I have to wonder when my turn will come. Why is it that a man (not one of color though) can write and say whatever he wants and be protected by the very Constitution that tells me that all of our voices are equal?
As little Black girls with dreams of writing, why wouldn’t Essence, Jet, and Ebony be the publications that they aspired of write for? Those publications sat grandly on the coffee table filling us with pride of self. They told us that POC of color mattered and that we were important. Then I started to notice something. I was not really being represented in any of these “Black” publications. There was a subtle white washing taking place.
Sure there were plenty of brown faces to admire but I began to feel as if Ebony and Essence was telling me that MY Black wasn’t good enough.
What if I wasn’t skinny?
What if my hair wasn’t straight or filled with weave?
What if my skin wasn’t high yellow or strikingly black?
What if I didn’t graduate from a HBCU?
What if my parents didn’t have faux old Black money?
What if I was just a poor struggling single mother from a town that wasn’t on the glamour radar?
Where was MY representation?
I’ll assume that the white washing was an attempt at conformity, an attempt to appease the White publishers Johnson sold out to. Ebony lost my attention and support years ago because fakeness makes my skin crawl. Their treatment of Jamilah Lemieux affirmed my discontent with them.
Jamilah said what she had to say to a member of the GOP because this is America and there is that thing called Freedom of Speech and chaos ensued. I ignored all of this at first but Ebony made their move and the move wasn’t in support of Jamilah’s voice. I never thought that I would see the day that a historically Black publication would support the GOP in any way shape or form. It is laughable that Ebony’s apology on Jamilah’s behalf was done in the name of diversity. This apology was a slap in the face for WOC, feminism, journalism, AND diversity.
Ebony, is there any concern that your example will fuel a movement to silence Black women that speak their mind no matter their opinion? Is your magazine no longer representation of Black voices? Should we not celebrate Jamilah’s viragos spirit and encourage this sprit in other WOC? Aren’t we as Black people oppressed enough without a major publication telling us that we do not matter? Who will apologize to Jamilah for your betrayal, Ebony?