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It's not enough to enlist marginalized voices if publications still undermine their work.

It's not enough to enlist marginalized voices if publications still undermine their work.
By Jewel Wicker • Issue #7 • View online

VERZUZ
To our fans: While we are honored that #Verzuz made the cover of Billboard, this would not have been possible without Beenie Man & Bounty Killer, who set a big tone for our audience and represented for Jamaica 🇯🇲 🙏🏽 https://t.co/JUowlQKKIQ
The recent drama surrounding Billboard’s cover story on Verzuz is a reminder that writers often have little input in the images that accompanies their work. The article itself highlighted the significance of the Beenie Man and Bounty Killer battle, but the cover art left the two Jamaican icons out. The writer, a Black woman, received hateful tweets regarding the cover but, as she pointed out, writers don’t have input into cover art. Sometimes writers don’t even see the photos that will accompany their work until it publishes.
I’ve written two cover stories and co-authored another. Of those covers, I only saw one before it went to print. When possible, I try to attend the photoshoots for my stories just to spend more time with my subject, but that’s not always possible. And, that still doesn’t account for the work that’s done to the pictures after the shoot.
I’ve been pretty honest about the fact that Billboard is one of my biggest clients and one of my favorite publications to write for so I’m not singling them out by mentioning this Verzus cover. They’ve been criticized for their editorial coverage recently, especially after layoffs earlier this year, but the truth is many publications have the same issues. If people of color aren’t involved in decision-making roles, there’s always the potential for the writer’s intentions for a story to be undermined. And, unfortunately, the person with the byline will bear the brunt of the publication’s mistakes because it’s their name that’s attached to the work.
I feel for Naima Cochrane, the writer of the article because this was her first cover story and this has completely overshadowed that major accomplishment.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT (a few of my bylines from the past two weeks):
This was a dream assignment that allowed me to profile someone I’ve admired for years.
This article garnered some strong responses, including a share from Elizabeth Warren on Twitter and some hate mail, including one where a man called me a member of the “nigger news corporation.” I write about Black news and culture so much that I sometimes forget some people don’t want these stories to be told. Too bad. I’ll never stop writing them.
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO AND WATCHING:
“Alannuh” playlist
Hillary Holley asked for an Atlanta-specific playlist based on the Southern Rap Canon published by NPR earlier this month. This playlist pulls from that list (curated by the fabulous Briana Younger) and also adds a few other Atlanta classics that didn’t make the cut.
City Girls - Come Outside
In a year where southern women are running hip-hop, I keep returning to this cut from the City Girls’ City on Lock album.
City Girls - Come Outside (Official Audio)
City Girls - Come Outside (Official Audio)
Taylor Swift - Mirrorball
None of my friends have taken up my offer to twirl around to this song once the pandemic is over but if there are any T. Swift fans reading this, I’m available around fall 2021.
mirrorball
mirrorball
I’m already over the Kamala think pieces but this makes me laugh every time I see it.
RECENT READS:
Beyond Burnout at told to Brianna Holt for The Cut
I saw myself in this “as told to” about the burnout often experienced by black women.
Women are more likely to experience burnout from work than men because — shocking — they have less authority in the workplace. And Black women, a recent study found, experience “accelerated biological aging” as a result of repeated or prolonged stress, like, for example, the kind brought on by poverty or trying to prove one’s worth in a discriminatory workplace. Black women frequently struggle with microaggressions, a lack of opportunities, and the pressure to be constantly “on.” Throw in long hours, endless Slack messages, and a culture that prioritizes the go, go, go, and burnout becomes an almost unavoidable condition. As Britni Danielle wrote for Zora, “The pressure is a lot, and it’s wearing many of us down.”
Thomas Wheatley, one of the best writers and editors in Atlanta, wrote an article that provides some excellent, much-needed context regarding what’s been going on at the Wendy’s since Rayshard Brooks was killed.
Porsha in Protest by Caity Weaver for New York Times
It’s been a delight to see Porsha Williams grow into the no-nonsense, civically engaged woman she is today. It’s no secret that she wasn’t exactly upholding the legacy of her grandfather Hosea Williams in early Real Housewives of Atlanta seasons but she’s made up for that this year.
This is a good read that touches on Frank Ski’s Baltimore legacy before he moved to Atlanta.
America’s Authoritarian Governor by Amanda Mull for The Atlantic
Georgia native Amanda Mull offers a searing look at how the state has bungled its COVID-19 response.
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Jewel Wicker

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