Essence Magazine Misses a Golden Opportunity

Essence is a popular 42-year old “lifestyle magazine for African American women.” According to its website, it boasts of having “more than eight million readers.” Essence magazine is a pretty big deal in the Black community. So, when Maya Rhodan, a reporter from this preeminent publication, contacted me stating she wanted to feature an article about abortion, the #1 killer of Black Americans and a topic talked about far too little in our community, I was excited. With the reach and influence which Essence has, and being reassured that this would be a balanced article addressing both sides of this critical issue, I accepted the invitation to be interviewed.

Betrayed by Essence

Allow me to vent for a moment, as I share what transpired in what may be my longest e-blast to-date. For approximately 30 minutes, I answered Ms. Rhodan’s questions covering everything from why Protecting Black Life exists, how we do what we do and what our local, national and international experiences have been tackling this taboo topic. Sadly, nothing I shared was included in her Essence article entitled: “What We Stand to Lose.” Instead this article overwhelmingly pushes a staunchly pro-abortion agenda, lamenting the “more than 200 laws that impose restrictions on abortion which have been enacted in the past three years.”

After I read the final article, I contacted Ms. Rhodan to express my utter disappointment that she chose to only include a measly, weakly worded three sentences addressing the pro-life perspective. I shared my frustration and feelings of betrayal that neither my name; Protecting Black Life’s name; nor a single word I said during the entire 30-minute interview was included. However, the pro-abortion interviewees were given top billing, including their names, quotes from them within the article and links to their websites.

Many people have told me they’ve felt Essence magazine has pushed an abortion agenda for quite some time. In fact, Planned Parenthood (the nation’s leading promoter and provider of abortion) is a prime sponsor of the Essence Music Festival, which according to Essence is the “nation’s largest annual gathering of African-American musical talent, bringing in more than 200,000 attendees.” That along with Ms. Rhodan’s approach to this article, I now solidly agree there’s an obvious pro-abortion bias.

A Glimmer of Light Amid the Darkness

One redeeming portion of the three sentence, pro-life paragraph which somehow survived the editor of Essence’s red pen, was that Ms. Rhodan accurately quoted my wife who shared the fact that she “had an abortion in college.” She also stated that she “regrets her abortion,” and warns others that “abortion has an impact on everything you do for the rest of your life.” Perhaps someone will read that simple statement and receive enough of a nudge not to have an abortion. Here’s a Link if that’s you. Or, maybe someone will read it and admit that their abortion still significantly impacts them and reaches out to get the help they need. Here’s a Link if that’s you.

A Golden Opportunity Missed

I wish Ms. Rhodan had kept her word and truly written a balanced article. This flagship “lifestyle magazine for African American women” could have seized a golden opportunity to inform its more than eight million readers that unbeknown to most of them, abortion currently remains the leading cause of death among Black Americans, higher than all other causes combined. Their readers could have been informed that Planned Parenthood, one of the major sponsors of its own Music Festival, intentionally targets them by placing 79% of their surgical abortion facilities within walking distance (2-mile radius) of minority neighborhoods.

Ms. Rhodan, as you grieve over what you believe “We Stand to Lose,” why not inform your readers that according to the Guttmacher Institute’s, Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States, August 2011, we lose nearly 1,000 Black babies to abortion every day? Why not warn your readers that the very abortions your article promotes hurts, maims and often kills the very women who have them? Ms. Rhodan, this could have been a prime opportunity to introduce your audience to a rapidly growing list of ladies who have been hurt and/or killed by so-called “safe and rare” abortions. Perhaps, we could have even invited Essence’s 8.5 million readers to take a moment to mourn the recent death of 22-year old LaKisha Wilson, who died following a botched abortion and was just laid to rest on Monday, April 7, 2014 in Cleveland, OH.

While Ms. Rhodan’s “What We Stand To Lose” article argues for allowing the #1 killer to continue lurking in and preying on our community, many of us are far too familiar with what we’re already losing. We’re losing far too many precious lives, both born and unborn.

A Call to Action

This week, I only have one action item for you. Please join me in writing a letter to Essence magazine’s Editor in Chief Vanessa K. Bush to express your dissatisfaction and disappointment with Essence’s lopsided approach to this article. According to Ms. Rhodan, Ms. Bush wrote in the May issue that she’s counting on readers to “help keep Essence honest.” Let’s accept Ms. Bush’s offer.
Ms. Bush can be reached via email at: After you’ve written your letter, please feel free to forward it to me at: I’d love to read them!