Jezebel is constantly getting critiqued for being a site that mostly amplifies white voices, instead of being truly intersectional. It says it embraces diversity, but the site’s mostly monochromatic masthead and roster of writers shows otherwise.
But one of the strongest voices on it is that of Dodai Stewart, the black woman who has been deputy editor and has been working at Jezebel since the launch of the site in 2007.
Not only does she stand out because she’s one of the few black women on staff but because she’s a writer’s writer, and she’s fearlessly awesome and outspoken about issues that matter to us. She’s the main reason I still read that website, and she’s one of its biggest champions. Her Twitter handle is even @JezebelDodai.
This is why news that Jezebel just hired Emma Carmichael, formerly of The Hairpin, as their editor-in-chief has spurred much disappointment among those who read the site and apparently, even the site’s staffers. In a piece by the Capital, it was also revealed that Dodai didn’t know the job wasn’t hers until minutes before the story dropped on BuzzFeed.
To me, this all feels like layers of disrespect.
When you pass up your 2nd in command who has been there longer than anyone else, is admired, talented and clearly capable for someone from outside, that’s disrespect. Then you don’t let the person know in advance so they’re basically finding out at the same time as everyone else. That is discourteous and super shady. Her leadership, her commitment and her great work means she deserved way better than that
Gawker Media (which owns Jezebel) made a bad move, and they straight gold-diggered this. In the words of North’s daddy Kanye, “And when you get on, he leave your ass for a white girl.” It’s difficult not to feel the racial undertones to this because it does reek of just another day and another example of discrimination. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth that the glass ceiling still exists, even in spaces that are supposedly progressive.
No shade to Emma Carmichael, because I’m sure she’s a talented journalist. However, I cannot grasp the fact that the 25-year-old relative newbie would run the site better than the accomplished and proven Stewart. Jezebel squandered an opportunity to make a strong statement about their commitment to diversity, not just on paper but in practice. Dodai’s name is still on the masthead, but her boss is a 25-year old white girl who many can’t even say is the most qualified person for the job.
When you’ve put in 7 years at a company and you’re basically told you’ve peaked there, what’s left to do? I want her to moonwalk out the office and flip every table she sees on the way out. But I’m petty, so don’t pay me no mind.
Dodai is ride or write for Jezebel, and she’s maintained the utmost level of grace as this news goes round and around and people put their 2 cents in it. We’re not sure how she feels about this, but I’ll throw the tantrum on her behalf. Being the classy lady she is, she’s managed this by not addressing it at all. She still has a job to do, and you know real Gs move in silence like thought. I hope she’s working on her plot to take over this media space, and I hope a bigger and better opportunity comes her way.
How you gon’ win when you ain’t right within, Jezebel? I’m just saying.
Whatever Dodai does next, whether it’s to continue at Jezebel or maybe venture off somewhere else, I am cheering her on.
Luvvie is a serial ranter and blogger who talks pop culture at Awesomely Luvvie, technology at Awesomely Techie and is the head behind DumbestTweets.com. She can also be found on Twitter (@Luvvie), Facebook and Instagram.