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(BVONSTYLE) Blogs are abuzz with the news that African American women’s magazine, Essence, recently hired a non-black fashion director.

Essence editor-in-chief Angela Burt-Murray told Black Voices in a written statement that Ellianna Placas, a former fashion editor at O: Home and Us Weekly, is just part of Essence’s growing fashion team.

I understand that this issue has struck an emotional chord with our audience,” said Burt-Murray, “however I selected Ellianna, who has been contributing to the magazine on a freelance basis for the last six months, because of her creativity, vision, the positive reader response to her work and her enthusiasm and respect for the audience and our brand. We remain committed to celebrating the unique beauty and style of African-American women in Essence magazine and online at”Michaela revealed on her Facebook wall, “It’s with a heavy heart I’ve learned Essence Magazine has engaged a white Fashion Director. I love Essence and I love fashion. I hate this news and this feeling. It hurts, literally. The fashion industry has historically been so hostile to black people — especially women. The 1 seat reserved for black women once held by Susan Taylor, Ionia Dunn-Lee, Harriette Cole(+ me) is now-I can’t. It’s a dark day for me. “
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In an opinion piece that appeared on the Grio, Burt-Murray expressed disappointment that hiring a white editor creates such controversy while the magazine’s stories about serious issues in the community go unnoticed.

‘When we run pieces on how unemployment is devastating black men? Nada,” she wrote. “When we run story after story on how HIV is the leading cause of death for black women age 18-34? Zilch. The things that really are the end of our world apparently aren’t.”

Nevertheless, Essence’s mission is to “inspire black women to lead bold, fulfilling lives,” and several readers and former employees, including former fashion editor Michaela Angela Davis, seem to feel that Essence’s newest staffing choice goes against that mission.

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