Essence Love: Message from Associate Editor Aswad Walker
Lizzo, Nikole Hannah-Jones and Simone Biles. Photos by Ramona Rosales, Itaysha Jordan, Chrisean Rose.


Have y’all been keeping up with the recent round of Essence covers? If not, please take time to check out all three Nov/Dec covers. They are stunning pieces of art, worthy of celebration for a couple of reasons. First, the three covers I’m referring to feature Lizzo, Nikole Hannah Jones and Simone Biles, each unique for a different reason. Even in 2021 it’s still rare that women who live outside the pencil-thin, Eurocentric body type, like Lizzo, receive a national spotlight. The same could be said for game-changers outside the world entertainment like college professor and media member extraordinaire Nikole Hannah Jones. And because we Blackfolk still have “colorism” issues, to see Simone Biles featured on an Essence cover in all her Dark & Loveliness is both refreshing and needed. Additionally, these covers are monuments to Black Love. They show a love for Blackness that shouldn’t be downplayed. The photographers, designers, etc. took the time to put these sisters in their best, boldest and most beautiful lighting, attire, etc. I’m feeling the love, Essence. Much appreciated.


Pharrell Williams, Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP, File

Recently, super producer Pharrell Williams told the graduating class of HBCU Norfolk State University during his commencement speech to stop referring to themselves as minorities and to act with a power reflective of our numbers. “We are the emerging majority,” Pharrell said as he challenged graduates to spend their dollars with those who respect us. Let’s invest in Blackfolk-loving institutions like Samuel L. Jackson and LaTonya Richardson Jackson who made the largest alumnae donation in Spelman College history. Let’s start our own businesses like those sisters and brothers leading the cannabis/CBD boom, opening wineries, and leading in other industries. We need Black-owned everything, including banks, so we don’t experience the “Banking While Black” treatment Joe Morrow experienced in Columbia Heights, MN. Yes, the GOP is purging Black people from election boards. But as economist Claud Anderson says, for real political power we need economic power. #BuyBlack.


President Joe Biden speaks from the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, for the opening of the Democracy Summit.The two-day virtual summit is billed as an opportunity for leaders and civil society experts from some 110 countries to collaborate on fighting corruption and promoting respect for human rights. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Of the 100-plus countries invited to President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy, one participant recently found its name on a list none of them want to be on—the Backsliding Democracies List. That attendee? The United States! Yet, the summit host nation didn’t even address its own threats to democracy. However, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) said the U.S., despite being “the bastion of global democracy,” is undergoing a democratic backslide, falling “victim to authoritarian tendencies,” for the first time since the group began collecting such data more than 20 years ago. IDEA spotlighted Trump’s unfounded yet non-stop allegations of voter fraud leading to lost trust in the system and instigating violent rioting. Not to mention the nationwide voter suppression and Jim Crow-style redistricting maps. If Biden and crew either don’t see or don’t want to see America’s in-house terrorist threat (the GOP), then they are just as big a problem as the Jan. 6 insurrectionists.

Aswad Walker

I'm originally from Cincinnati. I'm a husband and father to six children. I'm an associate pastor for the Shrine of Black Madonna (Houston). I am a lecturer (adjunct professor) in the University of Houston...