Essence Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Constance White, was forced to back pedal when one of her editors, Michael Bullerdick, forgot that even a “private” facebook page can still end up embarrassing you in the public.
Bullerdick, the infamous white guy hired at Essence as a Managing Editor last summer, has turned out to be the kind of Right Wing, Fox News watching, Tea Party attending, first black president hating, extremist that we hear about in scary racist bed time stories. Bullerdick isn’t just a man with a few conservative viewpoints, he’s the kind of Republican who is so angry at black people and civil rights that he puts it all over his Facebook page. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bullerdick owns one of those “Don’t Re-nig” bumper stickers that are all the rage among Right Wing nut jobs.
Bullerdick was busted after the website Journal-isms sent a screenshot of his page to the editor. On the page, Bullerdick attacked civil rights leader Al Sharpton as a “Race Pimp,” went after President Obama as a radical, and touted videos by the late Andrew Breitbart attacking Attorney General Eric Holder. The commentary wasn’t just a matter of simple disagreement on policy, but was the kind of racial hatred that one would expect from the kind of Right Winger that even other Republicans might find embarrassing.
Bullerdick is certainly not the kind of person who should be, in any way, responsible for the editorial content at what used to be a leading publication reflecting the views of black women all across America. That would be like allowing Jesse Jackson to become a producer for The Rush Limbaugh Show, or putting ex-stripper Nene Leakes in charge of this year’s debutante ball. The fit is awkward, to say the least and not one that the majority of black women would ever approve.
Let’s be real: Bullerdick wasn’t someone that Constance White, nor the Essence magazine staff, would have hired had he not been thrust upon them by their financial overseers. Bullerdick being white is not the issue, although one could argue that there are thousands of talented black female journalists, locked out of white organizations, who would be quite qualified to speak to the black female experience in America.
What is most problematic is the fact that Bullerdick is a guy who identifies with the values and beliefs of those who work night and day to preserve our nation’s long-held commitment to racial inequality. The union between Bullerdick and Essence Magazine was the kind of awkward arranged marriage that leaves the bride sobbing in the dressing room when she realizes she has no choice. One can also easily argue that this man has absolutely no respect for Essence Magazine, it’s readers or what the magazine represents to the black community. By showering his facebook page with borderline racist, inflammatory rhetoric, while taking a paycheck from Essence, he is effectively saying, “I don’t care what any of you people think.”
The lesson that we can learn from Essence is that financial tradeoffs always have consequences. One can’t blame Essence for pursuing a partnership with Time Warner, but as black people, we can sometimes be so excited about the white man offering us money that we forget that nothing is given away for free. In many cases, we view money as a source of liberation, when it actually becomes a path to deeper slavery. In fact, one of the greatest impediments to the advancement of black people is our love and addiction to capitalist commodities that we do not control.
I’m not angry with Essence Magazine or Constance White for hiring Michael Bullerdick as one of their editors. But if I were a black female, I’d be livid. The power that media has in controlling the thinking of black men, women and children is not to be taken lightly, and the idea that someone like Bullerdick is being given direct access to our most cherished institutions should be serious cause for alarm.