Sharaya Tindal Wiesendanger
In a month inundated with state-sanctioned violence against immigrants and refugees, police brutality against Black men’s bodies and intimate partner violence ending Black women’s lives, it might be hard to find inspiration among the suffering. Before this month of trauma draws to a close, we at Black Women’s Blueprint would like to celebrate the great work of Essence magazine and their November print issue. Here are just a few reasons we believe Essence is necessary reading for Black folks right now!
1. The entire issue – cover to cover – is dedicated to survivors
November is the survivors’ celebration issue.From the very beginning to the very end, Essence used its platform to support survivors and bring the to the fore the stories and skills of survivors of sexual assault and violence. In an era of bandwagon politics, Essence has taken a bold step in centering the conversation on the lives of survivors over attackers.
2. Tarana Burke is the guest editor for the November issue.
The mother of #Metoo, Tarana Burke had a notoriety among Black women survivors long before Alysa Milano sent out her “#Metoo” tweet. Ms. Burke is an inspired leader who has helped thousands of young women in New York City heal and deal with their trauma. She is the founder of Just be, Inc. which is "focused on the health, well-being and wholeness of brown girls”, and the Senior Director of Girls for Gender Equity, a Brooklyn-based organization working to teach communities how to make girls and young women’s lives significantly better. If anyone has the expertise to edit this month’s issue, it’s Tarana Burke.
3. Aliya S. King discusses the relationship between complicity and victimhood
Award-winning author and journalist, Aliya S. King has provided countless music-related articles for Essence over the years. Yet, her piece on R. Kelly explores the way women passively support sexual offenders and while disconnecting from their own pain from sexual abuse or assault. Her piece is thought-provoking and convicting. King’s article alone is worth the price of the periodical.
4. Gabrielle Union shares her story of healing 'at all costs'
Ever-strong, ever-outspoken, Gabrielle Union shares with the world her experiences as a survivor of sexual assault and a healing woman empowered by her own courage to move forward in health. Her "sermon" is bold and deeply courageous. We salute her for her audacious attempt to speak life and power into the lives of survivors through her own trauma.
5. Highlighting Black lady bosses and the resources they provide
This month’s print edition highlights several Black women executive directors, organizational founders and the resources their groups provide. This might sound insignificant, but knowing what organizations exist and where they are located may turn a victim into a survivor. This knowledge may save a life.
6. Farah Tanis and Black Women’s Blueprint gets a shout out
They call it a humble brag, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t encourage our members to pick up any media that brings attention to our organization, our work and our fearless leader. Thousands of women across the country will know about our history and incredible work helping survivors not only survive but thrive.
These are just a few of the reasons why this month’s Essence is a bold display of Black survivor excellence. We as Black people need to get behind Essence, Black Women’s Blueprint and all the organizations that support survivors. With only two days left in the month, we encourage you to pick up your copy today!!