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Italian Vogue

Last updated on August 12, 2013

African-Americans have approximately 900 billion dollars in buying power and are more apt to spend it on fashion than their other cultural counterparts. With that said, here is a very interesting OpEd written by Paul Boakye in response to Italian Vogue Magazine’s all Black issue:
I recall three years ago when I was trying to raise £250,000 to keep Drum magazine afloat that there were no endless chain letters and text messages being sent out by my black brothers and sisters in support of keeping ‘their’ magazine alive. In fact, the first quarter of a million I managed to raise was largely due to the support and goodwill of white liberals who saw the need for an inspirational black lifestyle magazine like the famous Drum of 1950s South Africa.
Even the advertisers and brands blatantly warned us that British black people don’t want a magazine that caters to them because black people in Britain want to be mainstream. To me the two ideas; black magazine and mainstream, were not mutually exclusive as African-Americans have proved successfully but still the brands were dead set against advertising in what they saw as an “ethnic title” especially when black people are said to prefer Vogue or GQ. Furthermore, my insistence on using dark-skinned models in our editorials and fashion shoots was said to buck the general trend for “international beige” complexions and mixed-race relationships, which were again said to be another symbol of our desire to be “mainstream.”

The various black footballers we approached for investment support preferred to spend their piles of money on fast cars and even faster women instead of nurturing a new publication that could in turn promote their achievements to our young people specifically and the outside world in general. Now we sit around paying lip-service to the need for more black role models while our teenagers stab each other to death on our city streets and few of us seem particularly bothered.

I was amazed to see how quickly a bunch of young white teens organised a march (via Facebook no less) with hundreds of their friends campaigning for an end to this senseless violence. Yet, while 90% of youth death from knife crimes are black-on-black murders – what are we doing about it? Have you seen any marches organised via Facebook? I’m still waiting…but we can spend our valuable time, money, and energy promoting the sale of Vogue magazine in our thousands (in some vain hope that a Vogue exec somewhere will decide to have more black models promoting products in his magazine). Shame on you! Take it from me, that ain’t never gonna happen any time soon. There’s a much better chance of electing a black man the 44th president of America! Magazines make money not from their cover price but from the advertising revenue they generate based on the perceived economic spending power of their primary audience.

Are you with me so far? You’d be better off spending your money on something like Talawa Theatre or Pride Magazine in the UK, where your hard-earned dosh has some real chance of circulating back into our community. Better still, if we supported our own like other communities do, then the advertisers would feel they have a duty to target us (in order to access our spending power), and would therefore spend their money advertising in black publications where black models feature as standard. As things currently stand, the brands and advertisers know that you’ll buy whether they specifically target you or not, in which case, we’re virtually useless to the economic development of our own communities.

You go out and buy Italian Vogue if you want. I’d much rather donate my £4 to Barack Obama, or to charities working in Africa.

You can download back issues of Drum magazine (UK) here.  Still a thing of beauty after all these years!”

Commentary originally posted by Paul Boakye, Writer/Editor & Creative Project Worker.
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One Comment

  1. hasansito hasansito August 7, 2009

    I can really dig this article to the MAX, because it reflects our reality!!! But one thing I must say is that we need to stop airing our dirty laundry for the PUBLIC to see. For instance, look at the Asian Community, no doubt they have problems, but they speak of their problems behind closed doors and come to a agreeable solution, The most important thing is that they TAKE ACTION with an agreeable solution and focus their dollars on getting the job DONE…can you dig it!

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