Oh Town and Country Magazine – you have the Art and Society World all a-chatter over the January 2012 cover story about “It Girl” (their words) Shala Monroque. The story chronicles her ascension from St. Lucia to front row status at the top fashion shows internationally and is very well written.
Talk about making a statement for 2012! I wish I were a fly on the wall of that editorial meeting…
Anyhoo, Shala Monroque (who has been featured on this blog) is uniquely individual which I why I *heart* her style. And there’s another really neat and important statement about this cover – she’s probably the first non-celebrity Black person to be singularly featured on Town and Country’s cover.
If you haven’t seen the January 2012 Town and Country, I encourage you to grab a copy from your local newsstand , read the story, and then dramatically drop it (accidentally on purpose of course) near your office’s water cooler/lounge area/break room so that others can see it. I’m sure it will be a conversation starter.
Oh and buy some copies to give to some young girls too..
Now we all know that Black people are still overwhelmingly absence from the “mainstream” media unless we are singing, acting, shimmy dancing, throwing/catching a ball, hitting a ball, or a politico.
This is not “all in my head racism,” it’s a fact – recently substantiated by a Pew Research Center Project for Excellence in Journalism study.
So it is really nice to see a full spread, positive story on an everyday Black woman.
There are a few other things to love about this too. The Daily Beast’s Allison Samuels thought Shala’s historical cover was worthy enough to pitch a story to her editorial team and wrote about it this week. Yours truly is quoted and I think you’ll enjoy Allison’s piece.
The new EIC of Town and Country Magazine Jay Fielden had this to say about choosing Shala as the cover’s subject:
“…She’s interesting, and that’s how we base our decisions for our covers. She has a story people will find fascinating, fresh, and new. We don’t want to fall victim to putting the same Hollywood starlets on the cover or shying away from people of color for fear of low sales.’’
Now a deep breath because here comes my rant…
Some of you will recall that I lamented the departure of former Town and County EIC Pamela Fiori because she was a true diversity advocate. I am pleased that the newEIC has taken up the gauntlet and is willing to be this risky in his editorial decision. Here’s an email if you want to send him a note of thanks for putting Shala on the cover.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch where the river of denial runs deeply, an editor of a nameless “Black lifestyle magazine” spoke in anonymity in the same Daily Beast article and gave this excuse for Shala not being covered in the Black press:
“…She’s pretty much put herself in white arenas and in the white world. She’s not living in the black world, from what I can tell. Until that happens, as great as it is that she’s getting attention—I’m just not sure if she’ll have an impact in the black community at all.’’
I know your jaw just dropped…
Ok, apparently I missed the memo that defines the “Black world” and subsequently who is in or out of said world – and therefore warrants Black lifestyle media coverage.
This is why I do what I do on this blog good people.
Unfortunately, so many Black people are still wrestling with a highly myopic view of “Blackness.” So, if someone doesn’t fit some narrow and often undefined viewpoint how a Black people should live/act/speak/socialize, then they are dismissively casted aside as “not living in the Black world.” Until this stupidness stops, we’ll always be inundated with the same ole, same ole by the publications who claim us as their target audience.
There is value in the story of success of the everyday person. This is what makes America exceptional. Only in this country could a Shala Monroque ascend from humble beginnings to being the talk of the proverbial town – and land a Town and Country cover. As one Super Socialite said last night to me “She typifies the American Dream. How in the world is that NOT worthy of coverage in a Black magazine?!”
There was a time when the Black media made stars and socialites from everyday people. Had it not been for the Black press, many business people, models, philanthropists, and community advocates would not be the powerhouse entities they are today.
But, if the anonymous editor of the nameless Black lifestyle magazine is indicative of a pervasive mentality plaguing decisions made by some of today’s Black targeted publications, then we all need to enter into deep prayer for a breakthrough in 2012.
And to those in the nameless Black lifestyle media who only cover people in the “Black world,” I have a bit of news to share with you. Please lean closer to the screen so I can discreetly whisper this because we don’t want everyone to hear…
I believe that Town and Country is positioning themselves to snatch your core and rising demographic(Black women age 30-65) right from underneath your noses. You have been officially put on notice for 2012. So while you are spending time covering only those in so-called “Black world,” they put a lanky young Black woman with a fabulous wardrobe and a lifestyle to die for in a $1000 Miu Miu fuchsia mini dress and Prada heels on their cover to kick off the New Year.
PS: I sure hope that those who pick up this story will give credit to where credit is due. I know you don't read Town & Country or The Daily Beast - because you would have scooped this by now...