“Black Lives Matter!” Do they? To whom? Thousands of people took to the streets in cities across the United States and thousands more are marching worldwide. But, tomorrow, who among our so-called allies will care? Today they chant “Black Lives Matter!” Yesterday, it was “Me, too!” Will tomorrow be any different? Will I be able to walk side by side with my white friends as an equal? Or will the divide that has plagued our communities for too long continue just the same as a new chant takes precedence in the news?
This is not just about George Floyd. This is about the racial segregation that has been going on for centuries condoned, today, by all those self-righteous voices that make statements void of any commitment.
How many white-presided companies have hired Black women? How many of their executives live in mixed neighborhoods? How many have Black friends? And, instead, how many discourage their audience from purchasing from our Black brands?
This cause—the uprisings in Floyd’s name, in part fueled by the state-sanctioned killing of Breonna Taylor and two racist men hunting and, ultimately, killing, Ahmaud Arbery—is not the newest trend. As an Afro-Carribean woman, I know that this violence happens across the diaspora. I am committed to improving the condition of Black women worldwide because I am a woman, because I am Black, but, most importantly, because I genuinely care. Our people have survived slavery; together, we will survive this pandemic, we will survive hate and we will thrive.
Black lives matter.
For over 50 years, ESSENCE has been the pioneering and leading Black woman magazine sharing with you the successes of our Black entrepreneurs, championing Black causes, showcasing Black talents, celebrating Black art, supporting Black businesses and caring for Black lives. ESSENCE will continue being on the front lines today, tomorrow and in the future to ensure that these devastating issues are addressed with the fullness that our readers deserve.
Eventually, the streets will go silent. The crushing grief and anger over the past week will take root and some people’s activism will fade. Still, I will continue doing my daily job, fighting for Black women in a society where nobody wants to hear it.
I will continue calling upon YOU to support Black communities through access to education, through the hiring of Black staff, through the empowerment of Black women on boards, and through empowering Black women via media outlets and providing them with a platform to express their opinions.
I am committed to improving the condition of Black women worldwide because I am a woman, because I am Black, but, most importantly, because I genuinely care.
To that end, ESSENCE, a Black owned media company, with a largely Black staff, is spearheading an anti-racism initiative, entitled “Raise Your Voice” that will give $1 million worth of print and digital advertising access to nonprofit organizations combating racial injustice and inequities. We are putting our money where our mouth is and following our voice with action. On Saturday, June 6th, The Movement for Black Lives will be our first collaboration. They will use this safe and dedicated space on our website to share with our ESSENCE audiences –and beyond – a variety of multimedia content to raise awareness and encourage real actions that we can do together to foster a global change for Black people.
Black Lives Do Matter! So, go and protest! But for your chants to be heard beyond the streets of today, speak louder! Black women vote…do you? ESSENCE hires Black employees to change the balance…do you? ESSENCE promotes education for you and those around you on the reality of unconscious racism…do you? And let me hope that those brands in the streets claiming that “Black Lives Matter” will remember their involvement and further commit to supporting our Black brands and our Black customers.
Black Lives Do Matter! They matter to ESSENCE; they matter to our partners, whom we thank for their unwavering support; they matter to me and they matter to YOU! So, together let’s speak up and change the world.
Chief Content and Creative Officer, ESSENCE.
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