ATTN: Linda Johnson Rice & Johnson Publishing Staff

Hear me out and heard me good. I’m about to get extremely real and possibly offend. But it’s worth the risk.

ebonyobamaI first heard about the impending sale from an email a friend forwarded to me yesterday. I had mixed emotions when I read it. On the one hand, I thought “here we go again. Selling out just like Essence. Well if they didn’t care about their readership, then good riddance”. On the other hand I thought, “wait a minute. Not again! We are losing our publications! Something has to be done”.

See, I grew up with Ebony Magazine. It was a staple as was Black Enterprise and Essence. Well of the holy black trinity, Black Enterprise seems to be the last man standing. Those magazines represented part of my culture. Ebony especially was dear to me because of Mr. Johnson and his struggle to bring to light his vision and show little black girls like me that we can be glamorous, beautiful, smart, sophisticated, successful. It was dear to me because he had broken so many barriers. In fact, his story drives me as I create my own media empire.

Please don’t sell. This is the time to restrategize, get new talent, and implement new ideas. Not jump ship on a legacy that Mr. Johnson created. We live in an advanced technological society with wildly creative individuals. There’s a plethora of talented writers & savvy social media strategists that can breathe new life in Ebony (myself included).

Although it has declined over the years (let’s be real), I still supported it. Not so much for the content, but for what the company represented. I know it can be turned around. Hell, I will come write for the magazine myself!  Just don’t sell out. I can tell you as a reader what the core problems are from a consumer standpoint. Your articles lack creativity and freshness, they are not up with the times, and lack that motivational spark they used to have. The same stories are rehashed over and over. What happened to the real stories of real people that could be held up as role models and inspiration? Why so much glamorization of celebrities? Real Black Folks want to be motivated and inspired and see that they too can achieve those goals. We don’t care that Jay Z & Beyonce (although I like them) are a Top 10 Couple (are you kidding me with that?). What happened to the “black experience”, the lifestyle magazine that used to hit the heart of Black people everywhere? Mr Johnson created this publication because others wouldn’t give us a chance to tell our stories. Well, the world has changed, this is true. But we still need to see our stories from our eyes and our perspectives.

Mr Johnson went through too much and broke down many barriers. Symbolism alone is what kept me loyal. Linda Rice Johnson, I’m calling you out. Challenging you to reinvent the brand. Bring the magazine up to 2010 standards. Black folks are technologically savvy. Get on that social media wave. We are in top corporate spots. We are leaders, visionary, pioneers, trendsetters. Show that! Become that motivational tool that it once was.  If you sell, we’ll get what we got with Essence Magazine (yes said it publicly).  Watered down recycled versions of the “why my man left me” type articles.  Now, Essence Magazine, before you send your goons after me, I do note that you are TRYING to improve. But some of those alerts I get from you on Facebook make you lose those points. But this isn’t about you right now.

Johnson Publishing is a legacy. While I am not happy with how the magazine has nosedived, I think it can be turned around and saved. Linda Rice just needs to step back and re-evaluate and make those tough decisions to get the right people in there to save it.

So what do you say Linda? Will you take me up on the challenge? Are you open to listening to public opinion? Will you reorganize the company that your Dad worked so hard to build and give it a new 2009 flavor? Will you clean house and bring in some fresh new talent to kick start Ebony into a new era? What do you say? I’m open to discussion. (678) 698-6206. I don’t waste my time on minute issues. I only go after causes I firmly believe in. The challenge has been made publicly Linda.  Let’s chat.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham