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Bigotry Exposes Itself Online: Shunning the Fashion Magazine, AGENDA, Because of the May 2012
AGENDA MAGAZINE releases its May 2012 Issue entitled "20 Years Since Rodney King," placing an African model on the cover. The response to the cover is an indication that America still has a long way to go in regards to racial intolerance.
“Initially, our May issue was going to be a fashion blowout. We had over 30 collections from top designers. However, I went to see the new play CAMP LOGAN, about racial intolerance in the military, only a few days prior to this issue’s launch. The theater production was so impactful that I decided to review it for AGENDA. With it being the anniversary of Rodney King, too, I really had no choice but to change the theme focusing on these events,” recalls Kaylene Peoples, AGENDA MAGAZINE Editor in Chief.
Picking a cover is always a political choice for an editor, but this issue, Kaylene Peoples decided to put an African model from Kenya, Lilian Maina, on the cover. Having been warned by her colleagues over the years that placing a dark-skinned Black model on the cover of a magazine, which does not focus on Black/urban issues, would be publishing suicide. Peoples had a little experience with that disappointing revelation back in 2007, when she ignored that advice and put a dark-skinned Black model on her cover anyway; the magazine dropped over one million in rank in fewer than 48 hours. It took more than a year to recover. Every time a Black model graced its cover, AGENDA’s traffic took a nose-dive. Peoples has been reluctant to do it again.
“Being a woman of color myself, it’s a shame that I had to think twice before putting my own race on the cover of the magazine I publish. But there is so much work involved in building one’s traffic and rank that I chose safer options over the years. Lilian Maina is the first “Face of the Month” model to be on the cover. Like all of my selections, she seemed the obvious choice. But I have to admit I was concerned about what had happened in the past.”
Calling the magazine “Agenda” was not by accident. The reason for the name was to garner an audience and eventually expose them to things they might not have had the opportunity to read about. It’s uncertain why unique traffic won’t click through past the home page when they see a woman of color on its cover. But as predicted, this issue has already dropped 40,000 in rank in just 2 days. It is expected to lose even more traction by the time the June issue is published. For a magazine whose rank goes up with each new issue, why then is it plummeting now? With the anniversary of the Rodney King riots in the news, as well as other searched items that are in this issue, there should be enough unique visitors to at least maintain AGENDA’s rank.
“I hate to admit it, but it’s pretty obvious to me what’s going on here; and it doesn’t feel good. I would be hard-pressed to deduce anything other than what I’d been warned about for eight years since running this magazine. Our audience is made up of approximately 90 percent Caucasian readers, and the remaining 10 percent is everybody else. When a non-Black sees it with a Black model on the cover, he/she seems to automatically assume it is a Black magazine and moves on, losing interest without even bothering to read what’s inside the issue. Somebody seeing the magazine for the first time the other day saw this issue’s cover and remarked, ‘Oh, it’s a Black magazine.’ I responded, ‘No. It’s a fashion and lifestyle magazine that is read by all races.’”
Kaylene Peoples has decided to broadcast this problem this issue by publishing her “20 Years Since Rodney King: A Letter from the Editor,” where she outlines the parallels of the Rodney King Riots and the ongoing events filled with racial undercurrents today.
“This unspoken rule that ‘Blacks on a magazine cover’ will cause you to lose your readers, well . . . maybe those readers don’t need to be a part of this magazine. I challenge each and every one of you to look past the outside of a person and look inside his or her soul. We are more than the melanin that divides us, and this country. Yes, it has been 20 years since Rodney King. Let’s not make it another 20 years before we stop judging people by the color of their skin.” (Quoted by Peoples from that article)
Page Updated Last on: May 08, 2012