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Magazines Celebrate Blackness. Is This The New Normal? A Mr. Magazine™ Musing

September 29, 2020

Change is taking place right before our very eyes, important changes in the world and in the world of magazines and magazine media.  From A to Z, magazines are celebrating blackness like they never have before.  Some are asking if this is the new normal, and some are lamenting about what took magazines so long to discover people of color in general and blacks in particular?  Blacks have appeared on covers of magazines in the past, but they were few and far between.  Yet, in the last few months I was able to buy more than  100 magazines with blacks and/or Black Lives Matter statements adorning their covers.  Change is taking place and change is good as the folks at GQ magazine stated in their global editorial (see below)…

I have decided that a picture is still worth a 1,000 words. So I assembled all the 106 magazines I bought or acquired in the poster below followed by excerpts from three magazine editorials.

 What follows are few excerpts from editors’ letters of three selected magazines ….

2020 IS NOT CANCELLED – IT’S GAME-CHANGING

By Toby Wiseman, editor in chief

UK Men’s Health magazine

              As I write this in late June, the past couple of weeks have proved fairly tumultuous for people working in the predominantly white UK magazine industry. In the wake of George Floyd’s killing in the US and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests around the world, there has been a lot of belated hand-wringing and understandable brow-beating, as well as some unhelpful, imprudent sabre-rattling.

Editors have rightly been examining their consciences, reflecting on unconscious attitudes towards diversity, as reflected through their brands in past years, and how best to address them in the immediate future and beyond. Some have realised that they have work to do and have pledged as much.  Others have been guilty of rather cack-handed, disingenuous responses.

IT’S BEEN A LOT

By Ben Cobb, editor in chief

UK LOVE magazine

            We’re little more than halfway through 2020 and it’s already hard to grasp the biblical change that have tossed us around and spat us out into this alternate reality.  I read something recently that made some sense to me.  It was a quote by Lenin.  He said, “There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades happen.” I don’t know about you, but the past four months feel like centuries have happened.

…Meanwhile we had a magazine to make… The industry shutters had come down, Lockdown was in full effect: there were no clothes to shoot, no talent to work with.  Think, think. Rethink. We had the freedom now to do something different. Nature had triggered its reset button and so should we. It was time for photographers to turn their cameras inwards and explore their immediate worlds. Time to produce heartfelt projects that reflected this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The brief was simple: let’s dream again.  As the pages began to fill with beautiful images, we felt buoyed.

Then came the three words that shattered any complacency: I Can’t Breathe. Eight minutes and 46 seconds of abject horror. Stop. WTF. The eyes of the world watched as George Floyd was murdered in broad daylight. There was nowhere else to look. This time there were no distractions; the pandemic had made sure of that. It was a perfect storm. Some day, we will look back and fully understand the inextricable link between these two moments – the Covid crisis and the BLM uprising that sprang from it – but right now, the future was suddenly there for the taking. Introspection flipped to action.  Outrage hotwired an ongoing process of re-education and accountability.  The gears had shifted and, with them, our focus at the magazine.

March to June.  Four months that saw humankind brought to its knees, the global economy eviscerated, sovereignties shaken, bronze gods toppled and 400 years of black oppression at the top of every agenda. So far, so fucking monumental. Maybe 2020 wasn’t so bad after all.

What We Mean When We Say “Change Is Good”

By Will Welch, editor in chief

US GQ magazine

            …Welcome to the special “Change Is Good” issue of GQ. It is a response to the wildly varied and overlapping forces of change – social, political, cultural, technological, economic—we are experiencing. The issue is intended as an instrument of inspiration and hope…

… As you’ll soon see, much of this issue found its purpose in the Black Lives Matter protests and larger racial-injustice reckoning that has followed.  When it comes to this moment of potential for true structural change, several of our profile subjects are setting an impeccable example of presenting ideas that are leading the way…

… So think of this issue as proof of concept—and each of these individuals’ stories as evidence. At GQ, we say change is good because change represents an opportunity—just add smart ideas, hard work, care for the community, and unflinching moral conviction , and suddenly you don’t have change, you have progress.

This notion has already gone global: “Change Is Good” is a rallying cry that is being projected out to some 50 million readers by all 21 worldwide editions of GQ simultaneously…

… GQ’s global unification around this idea is a first for us, and it represents a proud moment for our very worldwide brand…

 

Change is taking place.  Magazines are celebrating blackness. My only hope is that one day we don’t need to ask the question, is this the new normal, but just move on as if it is the normal thing to do rather than identifying it as new or anything else.  Change is good.  Agreed.

 

Until the next Mr. Magazine™ musing, all my best

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni

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