Staff Departures at Essence

Editorial staff head out at the black women's magazine, followed by others.

Constance White (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)
Constance White (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

Ex-N.Y. Times Writer Showcased Black Women’s Diversity

Constance C.R. White, who returned Essence magazine to a showcase for black women of diverse skin tones and hairstyles, is leaving the magazine, as are Corynne L. Corbett, the beauty editor, and Greg Monfries, the creative director, spokeswoman Dana Baxter confirmed for Journal-isms Friday night and Saturday.

Vanessa Bush, the executive editor, “will step into Constance’s role in the interim as managing editor,” Baxter said by email. She declined to elaborate.

The Jamaica-born White, a veteran journalist, was style director, brand consultant and spokeswoman for eBay, the online company, when she was named to lead Essence, the nation’s leading magazine for black women, in 2011. The Time Inc. property ranks second in circulation to Ebony among magazines targeting African Americans.

“White was previously the founding Fashion Editor for Talk magazine, a celebrated Style Reporter for The New York Times and the Executive Fashion Editor for Elle magazine. She also served as Associate Editor at Women’s Wear Daily and W magazine and began her career at Ms. magazine, as assistant to co-Founder Gloria Steinem,” an announcement said when she was named.

This column noted at the time that the March 2011 issue of Essence magazine, delivered during Black History Month,”might as well have been renamed ‘Wigs and Weaves.’ “

It seemed like that kind of advertorial. Subsequent issues weren’t much different,” the summary of the year in media diversity continued.

“However, issues for the rest of the year represented a return to acknowledging the diversity among black women. Under Constance C.R. White, named editor-in-chief in March, Essence is showing women of varying skin tones and hair styles and tackling more subjects that bolster the self-esteem of its impressionable audience. The December issue included a piece by Denene Miller on colorism, defined as ‘the practice of extending or withholding favor based on a person’s skin tone.’ ‘ColorStruck’ was accompanied by a quiz by Ylonda Gault Caviness to determine whether you are.”

At the National Association of Black Journalists convention last year in New Orleans, White remarked that the magazine was looking for models among everyday women because editors were not satisfied with the look of the professional models available. “Street Style” became a regular feature, spotlighting “What We’re Wearing In . . . “