Since January 2018, I have had the privilege of serving as editor in chief of Chill Magazine, the premier print, digital, and social lifestyle brand designed for the millennial man of color. From the mission to the art to the features, our team intentionally and authentically worked to make sure there was mindful representation of diversity among millennial men of color. We consistently worked to dismantle stereotypes, broadened the lens on manhood, and explored the levels of the millennial man’s experience.
However, Pride Media has made it very clear that there is no Black in the rainbow. After a year in publication, the organization has decided to terminate the brand.
My motivating force as editor in chief of Chill Magazine and chill.us has always been to lead with authenticity, engaging people in the genuine telling of their narratives, intentionally speaking to the intersections of humanity from race to sexuality to interests and beyond, carving out a very unique lane in the current landscape of modern media.
Many men of color, particularly Black and Latino men, do not lead exclusively with sexuality. With so many integral layers of manhood, sexuality is just one of many celebrated identities for men of color.
And while Chill had strong distribution and engagement, too many times internally, Chill was being pitted as a “magazine for men on the DL” or the “Black brand.” Chill was not celebrated for its diversity and opportunity to engage communities that have historically found themselves on the fringe of Pride brands or excluded altogether. For Pride Media, Chill had been reduced to the “non-white catchall” from the executive team to the sales team to the other brands; and it showed. The lack of support and lack of resources set up Chill to fail from the beginning.
The sales team-- with no lived experience, no advisement, no engagement, and with a few bad catch phrases, allowed Chill to be tokenized and stereotyped—the very antithesis of its inception. Oblivious sales team members pitched this new brand that has finally given voice to the Black and brown and Asian- and Native-American and Middle Eastern and multiracial men, only to have them shuffled through as a “magazine for men on the DL” with lackluster sales efforts and muddy language.
A major part of my time at Pride Media was explaining to white people what it means to be non-white. And while I moved boldly through the dark, white halls of Pride Media, I got the reminder that I am Black first every day. In all of its feigned efforts of diversity, a more appropriate term would have been “tactical inclusion”—only aiming to strategically break up the white with different kinds of white.
An adage says, “If you’ve never been, you can’t take me there.” And I’d add to that, “If you’ve never lived it, you can’t tell an authentic story.” And I feel that sums up the Pride Media team.
In a time where so many elements of American society attempt to perpetuate the notion that Black lives are for consumption and disposable, Pride Media speaks very loudly on its stance through its decisions.
Where is Black in the rainbow? Where is the brown in the rainbow? Where is the pride beyond the various shades of white? Beyond the slideshows of oily, glittered beige male bodies? Pride is being able to be yourself authentically when structures around you tell you otherwise.
My time with Pride Media has reinforced the fact that either you get it, or you don’t and anything outside of lived experience is of non-effect. For me, Chill was more than just a box on a checklist. As a journalist, a businessman, and a social servant, Chill provided an opportunity to engage, highlight, and celebrate a portion of our community that I know from experience has been underrepresented, misrepresented, or not represented at all. Readers have made it very clear there is a need for a brand like Chill-- one that bridges many gaps. As a member of this community, I am committed to ensuring our stories are authentically and unapologetically represented.
I’m neither bitter nor angry, but wiser and more motivated through my work to serve, grow, and equip my community to be its best while addressing the structures that attempt to see otherwise. Pride Media, particularly its executive leadership, has been on a string of poor decision making, bad public relations, and questionable financial practices. And terminating further supports that. When asked how does it feel to return to the ground? My response- I never left. And I'm just getting started.