Essence Editor Constance White Was Fired For Clashing With Management

Jamaica-born Constance CR White, the recently dismissed editor-in-chief of Essence Magazine, has elaborated on her termination.

White says her termination was the result of several clashes with Time Inc. Editor-in-Chief Martha Nelson about how black women should be represented in the monthly.

Essence, the US's leading magazine for black women, was founded by  famed African American photographer Gordon Parks who was its editorial director from 1970 to 1973. 

The Magazine which was originally black-owned has not fared well under the ownership of Time Inc., and many current and former readers think it is because the magazine has lost its focus on black women.

As evidence that the problem lies with Time Inc. management, White points out that the Magazine has had five editors, including two acting editors, all black women, since longtime editor Susan L. Taylor, was pushed out in 2000.

White said that Nelson vetoed such pieces as a look at African American art and culture, and "I was not able to make the creative hires that needed to be made."

She repeatedly clashed with both Martha Nelson and Michelle Ebanks, the president of Essence Communications Inc.

She said, "I had a certain point of view about black women being central to this magazine. The boss didn't agree with me, and the president didn't agree with me...It became an untenable situation." 

White said that the final "tug of war" came in January when Nelson called. "My boss said, 'you know what? It's time to go.' I was asked to leave my position. I asked, 'Was it something we can discuss, or has the decision been made?' She said, 'The decision has been made.'"

White said, "Essence is the last place where black women should be demeaned and diminished.”

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