Like many of you, I grew up reading Ebony and Jet magazines LITERALLY cover to cover, and always felt a huge sense of pride seeing stories told of prominent business women and men that looked like me. Growing up, seeing those positive, rich images of Black culture in Ebony and Jet is something that has influenced me over the years, and has inspired me in more ways than I can count.
As Boyce Watkins, a finance professor at Syracuse University once said in regards to Ebony and Jet, “[They] formed powerful prototypes for success in Black media’’ and “set the standard for Black business in America.’’
Quite simply, Ebony and Jet showed the world that Black is beautiful too.
Ebony and Jet was one of the first few publications that gave Black people a voice; it was one of the few platforms that gave us an opportunity when other publications wouldn’t look our way (or would instead display us in a negative light). At a time when Black people almost never made it into the pages, let alone on the front covers of other “mainstream’’—or white—publications, John. H. Johnson, the founder of Ebony and Jet, made our accomplishments visible to the whole world.
As Julieanna L. Richardson, an African-American archivist, once put it, “Ebony was a positive machine. It gave you a sense of self-worth.’’
In yesterday’s and even in today’s media, it’s not uncommon to see a lack of positive representation of Black people in the media. For this reason and many more is one of the reasons why Mogul Millennial was created, and why I’ve always been inspired by Ebony and Jet magazine.
Ebony and Jet magazine have always undeniably been a beacon of Black culture, and despite how you may feel about them now, you can’t help but to respect their legacy and impact.
Recently, there have been several public low blows to Ebony – what I consider one of the greatest of all time, Black-owned media brands. Sadly, many of these low blows have derived from guess what – Black media brands, even though publications like Ebony and Jet were one of the few media brands that paved the way and set the standard for some of your current Black media faves (digital and print).
Since its origin, Ebony and Jet have been a lifeline to the outside world, and a role model for the low and middle-class families that reflected that dreams do come true (even when sometimes our environments may have said otherwise). It has shaped our culture ever since, coming into its own as it reported from the front lines of major events in history, like the civil rights movement during the 1960s and the Black Power era.
The impact and influence that Ebony and Jet magazines have had on our culture is infinite and shouldn’t be ignored. While I do not agree with their recent doings, I’m finding it tremendously difficult to turn my back on a Black-owned media company that quite honestly played a major role into the woman that I am today.
There are several things that Ebony magazine can do (or really should be doing), that’ll help them retain the respect and love from our people. For starters, besides handling all of their financial issues (because that’s very important), focusing more on their digital brand and truly pivoting their editorial strategy to younger readers is a start.
However, like many things, pivoting in business (or making changes period) is definitely easier said than done.
While we may not agree or love what is going on over at Ebony, we shouldn’t be the ones to tear them down or drag them in the mud. Offering our help and sending positives vibes should be at the forefront to this legacy brand, that once again, paved the way for many of your current, favorite Black media brands, including Mogul Millennial.
While their issues have now become public, Ebony and Jet magazine will forever be iconic, and two of the many media brands that other publications will study and look at for inspiration for years to come.