On July 4 at the 2014 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, there was a panel discussion featuring Soledad O’Brien, OWN series star Chenoa Maxwell, Real Housewives of Atlanta cast member Cynthia Bailey, We TV series star Kim Kimble, former Maybelline spokesperson Tomiko Frasier Hines and actress Wendy Raquel Robinson. At one point, the gathered group was asked to address the backlash on social media and elsewhere over baby Blue Ivy‘s natural-look hair:
“If I want to put [my daughter] Noel’s hair in an Afro and not comb it for a year, that’s my child and it’s not anyone’s problem,” said Bailey. “Blue is [Jay Z and Beyonce’s baby]… I think she’s beautiful and I don’t even look at her hair. I turn up when it comes to kids.”
The comments the following day to a related Essence Facebook post (that appears to have since been deleted) were largely incredulous. On the Monday after the holiday weekend, a blogger for NaturallyMoi picked up on this panel strand and this week, it’s the turn of ThyBlackMan contributor Raynard Jackson:
I wrote a column three years ago titled, “Black Women No Longer Have Their Essence.” My point was that Essence, the pre-eminent magazine for black women, had become irrelevant and an embarrassment to the black community.
Unfortunately, Essence has continued its descent into irrelevancy.
Jackson cites the July 4 panel as the height of the magazine’s descent, but gets it slightly wrong. The “Our Beauty of Confidence” 2:30 p.m. ET discussion was not all about Blue Ivy. The little girl’s hair was just one of the topics covered.
He also references the NaturallyMoi coverage but glosses over the fact that writer Afija J. Watkins, in her item, concluded that “it appears the women on the panel largely saw the absurdity in the controversy over Blue Ivy’s hair.” All in all, an intriguing Red, White and Blue (Ivy) news trail.