Andre Henry used to work as the Managing Editor for the Christian magazine RELEVANT. He says that the “beginning of the end” of his tenure there occurred when he felt he needed permission from the founder and CEO of the publication, Cameron Strang, before posting daily articles about race during Black History Month. When he pushed to have a young African American author featured in the publication, she was relegated to the “back of the issue in a 60-word blurb.”
Another former editor, Ryan Hamm, said that when an issued featuring the band The Roots on the cover didn’t sell as many copies as they expected, Strang offered this theory: “Maybe our audience doesn’t want to see scary black men on the cover.”
Those are just a few of the reasons RELEVANT is now being accused of creating a “racially insensitive” environment, according to Religion News Service:
“They have done well at appearing to be about racial justice,” said Henry. “They post the right things. They say the right things. They make sure that they have a good mix of people of color in the magazine and on the web, but I don’t think that in their practices as an organization that they honor people of color in that way.”
Henry’s post on Medium exposes Strang’s disbelief that anyone would be interested in reading pieces catered to readers of color. By limiting those articles, he failed to be, well, you know.
The publication released a statement that doesn’t deny any of Andre Henry’s claims but insists they’ll do better.
… RELEVANT will continue to look for ways to improve the ways we talk about racial justice. We will seek bold, uncompromising voices for our platform to talk about God’s vision for justice and equality. We will also seek out people who can speak to us internally, challenging us to become a better company that walks the talk.
It’s always easy to say the right things and use diverse-looking faces to represent your company. But activism and true social justice require more than that. The fact that Strang thoughts pieces on Black History Month would “waste editorial energy” shows where his real values lie.
It’s a shame. A magazine that’s geared toward Christians and shares inconvenient truths about racism, sexism, and more is precisely what evangelical culture needs. Instead, it’s run by the sort of person who’s created the sort of culture that made magazines like RELEVANT necessary.
The solution has become part of the problem.
(Screenshot via YouTube)