Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real- Jesse Williams
In August of 1993 FOX aired one of the most popular African American, television sitcoms of its era, Living Single. The show was centered on the lives of six friends who shared personal and professional experiences while living in a Brooklyn flat. Queen Latifah starred as Khadijah James, the editor and publisher of Flavor, an independent magazine devoted to the interest of the urban community. Throughout the series, Khadijah devotes countless hours on trying to ensure that Flavor is a success. And in January of 1998, when the sitcom went off air we see her part from the Brooklyn flat one last time in order to pursue her love life as we can only assume that Flavor would continue to flourish.
I was not alive when Living Single first aired. And when it ended I was only three years old. But I recall watching my first syndicated episode in the fifth grade. Sitting on the couch in my grandmother’s front room. I was enticed by the theme song, bopping and humming along to the lyrics that I had not yet learned. And who would have known that just as I was falling in love with writing, I would fall in love with a character that was the editor and publisher of her own magazine.
I secretly wanted to be Khadijah James, juggling a career and friends how I saw fit. Kicking ass and taking names with ease is what what she did effortlessly all the time. But without a real life representation of this fictional character, I didn’t know how possible it was to become the next Khadijah James. And years later I would learn that I am capable to do this thing, being the fictional character I fell in love with many years before, being my own Khadijah James.
It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I declared that I wanted to own and run my own magazine. I was in one of those settings where they ask you what your major is and what you want to do with it. I was in room surrounded by other journalism majors rattling off their dream jobs and companies they wanted to work for after graduation. I on the other hand listed off the magazines I felt were the best of the best, Time, Billboard, Essence, Rollingstone, to name a few and then ended by saying, I want to have my own magazine. That was my end goal when all of this college stuff was over.
In May of 2016 Teen Vogue announced their new editor-in-chief would be Elaine Welteroth, replacing Amy Astley as she would move on to head Architectural Digest. Elaine would be the youngest and only second African-American woman to head a major magazine under Conde Nast Publication in its 107th year of existence. When this announcement came, I watched as the twitter sphere when crazy. Black Girl Magic was happening right before our eyes. I had been following Elaine through the years as she moved from Ebony to Glamour just prior to her moving to Teen Vogue. In every way, the pieces she was covering, writing, and editing were everything—dope, relevant, youthful, inspiring.
She was in many ways the millennial version of Khadijah James, embodying what has made Teen Vogue a success over the years and introducing a new wave of what’s to come.