Noir Niche Part 1: Remember The Urban Teen Magazine?
Image Source: Tashema - Childhood Artifacts
Part One of a Three Part Series: The Urban Teen Magazine
In the first few weeks of 2016, it's has been a interesting January thus far, everything from race to poisoned water in Flint Michigan. We got the debate of #Oscarsowhite to Stacey Dash saying we need to eliminate BET and Black History Month.
All these topics I will speak about separately on another post, in regards to diversity and segregation. I was at the drug store recently and went to browse the magazine section (Yes people still to do that). And I was blown away that magazines like Tiger Beat is still being sold in physical copies and there was a couple other teen magazines still around.
I took the Tiger Beat mag and filp through it to see who was in it, I seen Taylor Swift, One Direction and Bieber. And host of other teens and young adults that I was not to familiar with. For one I am no longer in that age group, so I don't keep up with these genre of teens and further more I have not purchased a copy Tiger beat since 1992.
What struck me and kinda made me sad is that magazines that I held near and dear to me from childhood such as Right On! Black Beat, Fresh and Word up! magazine are no longer around, Vibe went digital, XXL and the source is still around and of course we still have Ebony and Essence (Thank God).
I know we live in the digital age and we have the internet so it is no need for physical publications and that is true in some sorts. However there is still an option if a young Caucasian teenager wants to buy an actual teen magazine, they still have that option.
A young African American teenager does not have that option. And contrary to popular belief not everyone have access to internet, not everyone has access to smart phones or some people don't want to read everything from the internet.
So if young AA teen wants to by a magazine and read about their favorite singer or actor that option is not there for them. And that is unfortunate, also in watching a recent interview with hip -hop music mogul Jermaine Dupri who is known for making teen acts famous such as Kris Kross and Bow Wow.
He made a point in the interview where he advised the reason for his most recent show "The Rap Game" finding the next rap star between the ages of 12-16. And the reason he doing that is for the simple fact there is no one to represent for kids of color in that age group in music.
And he is so right, that could possibly have played a part in the demise of the urban teen magazine. There is really no full representation in the urban teen genre to speak on. For heaven sakes we have the young cast of from ABC Blackish and the boys from Fresh Off the boat.
I know disney and Nickeloden still have their shows and there are teens of color on them and there is no publication? Fine that's cool, what about website?. And not to be beat a dead horse, from my child hood during the 90's, from the ages of nine to eighteen years of age.
I had something to choose from each year of my life during that decade, whether it was from TV, Music, books, magazines. movies. As a AA pre-teen and teenager we had choices, and not to say kids of today don't have choices, as the world is working into progressing to into a diverse atmosphere.
Which is a great thing and i am all for it, and I hope that someday we can be more united. However it is nothing wrong with being united and still having your culture as well. Some people could look at as well those magazines was segregated for kids back in the day and we don't need that now.
I think we do, as recall looking through that Tiger Beat in the store, I didn't see one face of color. I didn't see the kids from Blackish or the Kids from Fresh off the boat featured in the magazine. And that why I feel it is important to keep a niche going in certain aspects of one's culture.
But for young people to see a positive representation of them selves is very important, and to understand their base and foundation. In order for a person to love and embrace everyone, we have to learn and embrace our selves first.
I learned that lesson in spring of 1992, my mother brought me magazines, from Right On! to tiger beat. And I was more focused on the white teen magazines due to being into the popular show at the time 90210. She walked into me and my sister room and just stood there and realized all we had was those cast members on our wall
And at that moment she kind a flipped out and was like please add some black people to your wall, and me and my sister was in shock becuase, we didn't care if they were black, white, red or blue, hot is hot in our eyes.
But then she broke it down to us and said "I am not mad that you love 90210, and it is okay to have those posters but put some people on your wall that look like you. Love who you are first and be proud of where you come from. There are plenty of popular black artists and actors that you both love, but they are not your wall. You like Whitney, you like Kris Kross add them to your wall. Represent and be proud of who you are."
At that time I thought my Mom was against white people, but that could be further from the truth I mean she was a loyal knots landing fan. However she always thought us about black culture from slavery to present times. She just wanted her children to realize and under stand the value of who we were as we prepared to become young adults in the this world we live in.
Long story short having a selection of those urban teen magazines actually balanced my world out, Like I mentioned I liked 90210 and I liked A Different World very much too so I had choices to pick up one or both magazines. Would it have been nice to mesh those two worlds together in a one publication? Hell yes, but the world didn't work like that and that is another topic for another day.
Inclusion the urban teen magazines was a very important part of the American sub culture of media, and today teens could benefit from it, if not a publication at least website or an app to fit into digital era of today.
Next up part II: Do we really need the Oscars?