New feature written by me for Black Beauty & Hair Magazine (June/July 2011 issue)

Check out the latest issue of Black Beauty & Hair magazine where I’ve written a feature about the rise of organic black beauty. Article after the jump. Continue reading

Do luxury brands know how to sell products to black women?

[Image Source: Fashion Gone Rogue]

In the above shoot, Naomi Campbell is flogging the Animalier eyewear shoot for Dolce & Gabbana. I saw another picture from the campaign in the July 2011 issue of VOGUE magazine. Then, I realised something: are luxury brands like Dolce & Gabbana confused about how to approach black women in their advertising?

I think this shoot is confusing because while Naomi is beautiful, I am already more interested in the bodysuit than I am in the glasses. I think they are not being creative in finding a new way to promote their work, because this image of a black women with long black hair is just tired. How about something new, fresh or innovative? Dolce & Gabbana have such a rich history of excellent clothing – why have they made a boring shoot with typical fare from Naomi? I am a big fan of Naomi Campbell but I think this advertising campaign is pretty boring.

Is this how luxury brands think that they are going to attract black female buyers? Are we as black women easily seduced by a sexy looking Naomi with red gloss?

Did Anyone Read The ESSENCE Roundtable discussion with Solo & Nia?

nia long

I was in Borders today and in the UK, the latest issue of ESSENCE is the one with Nia Long on the cover.

There was an interesting roundtable discussion which included Solo Knowles, Nia of course and the stunning Tanika Ray, as well as Mikki Taylor, Tonya Lewis, Ursula Stephens (Rihanna’s hairdresser) & another lady called Ledisi. Continue reading

Why Black Magazines Like Pride & EBONY Are Like Ships…

michael ebony 1984mike ebony jackson cover

It’s easy to look at blogs and think they have all the answers. I seriously think Concrete Loop did help to teach VIBE a lesson of not taking its’ audience for granted. Concrete Loop is a great example of a polished media product. I can see a correlation to ships + the sea and what battle is facing the black magazine industry.

1. Captain: The captain always goes down with the ship or so they say? Magazines like EBONY have come from a long, illustrious and rich tradition of capturing the moments of black people. Despite the immediacy of the Internet, this does mean that magazines which have survived for a long time, like Pride, which is 18 years old, it means that these magazines become the captains of the black media ship so to speak due to the fact they have survived for so long. Continue reading

Why There are Hierarchies in Black Blogging, VIBE Magazine & more

Blogging is hard. I am not ramping. It is difficult, despite how fun and rewarding it is. I have always loved it, and it was one of things that I just loved straight off the bat when I started in ’06, which by net standards, still makes me a blogging virgin.

Many parts of traditional media are suffering greatly at the moment like magazines during this recession. It has made me think twice on how I plan to position myself as I have started to look for a media job in London. One thing that many people bang on and on about is that no one reads paper anymore, and that blogs have replaced magazines, news etc.

I think it is really important to see a distinct difference in how blogs present media. Most smaller blogs are run by one person and subject to how that person wants to dissect whatever issue they are talking about. Most people are not paid to run their blog, so how the content comes across (whether it features original reporting or not) is subject to the actual energy and passion of the blogger.

I think that is so important to remember when commenting about the demise of magazines like VIBE (which I honestly think is on its’ way to being part of Magazine Death Pool‘s unfortunate dead magazines. And this is not me hating). Mags like VIBE have not adapted to the net the way they should have and thus are struggling to keep up. However, this is in the face of big gossip blogs like Concrete Loop that are scoringe exclusive interviews with big stars like Kanye West.

It sounds trite but it is true: a blog that adds value in an original way stands higher in the hierarchy than another blog, and this is more apparent in black media I think. A blog simply cannot just be a catalogue of thoughts anymore if it wants to grow and be successful – it has to add value in an intrinsic way.

Because it is so easy for anyone in the whole world to be an online publisher with WordPress, this has upped the ante in a different way now and created hierarchies of blogging. The blogs I am going to list below are ones which I think have changed the game for black blogging in my eyes just because how they have changed how I see things. And these are one person blogs, not group ones, even though I would have added Afro Spear as it is game changing, I think.

  • Black Girl With Long Hair: L at BGLH is game changing for one simple reason: this blogger does her research. She just does not find something else, she actually goes and interviews people on her own jack and puts up her findings on the blog. She does not come across as a blogger per se, but more of a hybrid blogger-journalist. I just love journalism in any form, and she has put natural hair journalism on the map with black girl with long hair. I cannot stress enough how original this blog is, and I would go as far as to say it is one of the best and most unique blogs I have ever read since I started blogging in 2006.
  • Invisible Woman has posted a long hiatus note, but wow, her blogging about black film was always juicy, hilarious and done with a passion. Even though there is a hiatus, I would recommend any black film enthusiasts to check out the archive because she wrote about black film in an excellent manner. Invisible Woman also did a fabulous 7 Question series with black directors which was fantastic.
  • Trinidad.Adventist.Gay?! is one of the most philosophical blogs in my feed, but again, it is how the blogger deconstructs homosexuality into his own narrative of being an Afro-Caribbean religious man. It is a thought-provoking read; he also used to interview other gay Afro-Caribbean people on the blog.
  • and finally, I will finish with Monie On The Outside. Again, it is one of things about making people who stumble across your blog come into your world. You know the show Cold Case? It’s one of my ultimate favourite TV series; what is great about it is that Det. Lily Rush always ‘sees’ the victim of the case at the end of the show as if, the case really is coming circle and closing. I would compare this sensation of ‘seeing’ what Monie writes about as being similar to Cold Case, because I have learnt a lot about the struggles that black lesbians in America are going through. But what is great about this blog is that it knows how to make light entertainment in a short digestible form with images to.

I read more blogs than just the ones above, but they are just ones that have really captured me. They make me see that blogging is not something that you can just batter out when you feel like it, but something that requires an amount of discipline such as trying to post every day.

The landscape of black media is changing. But I think the only blogs that are going to survive and be popular are the ones that offer something new to the reader. I don’t know if I will do Charcoal Ink forever, but I do know that I enjoy blogging and traditional media like magazines because I enjoy information.


This Week in Magazines #1: Jada, Laura, & January

[Notes: New feature on the blog, everyone. I love magazines too much so I’ve decided to collate my thoughts in one post but Black Girls in Magazines still continues as a standalone feature]

1. Jada Pinkett-Smith (Ebony June 2009)

I saw this gorgeous image of Jada @ Monie On The Outside. I am always checking for Jada – just stunning and great attitude. Can’t wait for this issue of Ebony to come to LDN. And is it just me or has Ebony upped their game recently? I would love to write for them…one day!

2. Laura Izibor (Arise May 2009)

Scanned by me! Laura Izibor is gaining a lot of press these days. If you have any magazine scans of her, please send them to me at aulelia_2[at]

3. January Jones (Bazaar June 2009 UK)


January as Betty Draper has been one of TV’s revelations of the past few years. She has the ice maiden look locked to the floor. I got the image above from slacker chic, so check out the blog for the full scans.

There are not many black female editorials that I can find at the moment so if anyone know of any, please email me for next week.

Wild Card: Sandra Bullock is on the cover of US Bazaar. Check out the pictures here. 44 years old and stills churns out a great picture.

Stay tuned for this week’s upcoming ‘Black Girls in Magazines’ posts scanned just for you that include Shingai Shoniwa and supermodel Januel McKenzie!

Black Girls in Magazines: Viola & Taraji are Beautiful! 2 HQ Pix!

I bought Ebony yesterday.  The magazine was fantastic! As you know, the UK gets the US import mags late, but yours truly will be scanning the full article and images you lot. Until next week*, when I scan, here are two reasons why Ebony looks amazing.

1. Viola looking drop-dead stunning in this telephone box red shoulder gown.

2. And if that wasn’t enough, Taraji is continuing her winning streak as a couture-esque model in the magazines. Just absolutely gorgeous.

Can Elite, IMG or Ford please give Taraji a modelling contract? This woman takes a bloody brilliant picture. All pix are from

 * – I have scans of Rihanna (Look Magazine), Viola & Taraji (Ebony), Michelle Obama (Essence) and I just saw US Harper’s Bazaar with Halle. So many black women, so many magazines, no time! If you have any scans of black girls in magazines, please do not hesitate to contact me.

1st ever Hip Hop Magazine Closed After 21 Years

I can’t believe I am a week late on this. I only caught it because I was doing my rounds of reading media news. Private Frazer’s Doomed Magazines wrote that Hip Hop Connection, which was the first ever hip hop magazine, even before The Source is closing after 21 years.

I think this is sad. Mags like Vibe and The Source are surviving purely because there is a larger market in the US. Because we know otherwise, they would sink elsewhere because the content is shit.

More thoughts on magazines and black oriented media next week.

Black Girls in Magazines: Rihanna on VIBE (May 2009)

The always wickedly cool Monie has put up a first shot of the VIBE cover with Rihanna, so here it is, courtesy of Monie On The Outside.  

The image itself is beautiful but actually, why are VIBE giving this a cover when it happened weeks ago? Unless Rihanna is willing to talk publicly about it, there will be nothing exclusive about the article.

It is no secret that I am not a huge fan of VIBE at the moment. It has sunk below sea level with how bollocks it has become. But I am more than SURE Rihanna will not have been interviewed for this magazine so why do a feature on it unless she is talking? I will take back what I said if she spills but, I doubt her PR would allow that.

At any rate, the image is wicked. I am seriously wondering what will happen to Rihanna’s career after this whole debacle because as much as I still listen to SOS [1] when I am jogging, I think her silence on the issue will hurt her in the face of her young female fans who need to see strong women making a stand.

P/S – As usual with all black girls on magazine covers, I will be buying this issue when it finally gets to London so expect the full scans and article as usual.

[1] – Don’t pretend, SOS is still a banger and better than any of the songs she has released since. LOL!