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EBONY’s editor-in-chief answers critics of the ‘We are Trayvon’ issue

“It’s just an unfortunate reality of race relations in America today,” said Amy Barnett on NewsNation Thursday.
/ Source: MSNBC TV

“It’s just an unfortunate reality of race relations in America today,” said Amy Barnett on NewsNation Thursday.

EBONY magazine’s editor-in-chief wasn’t surprised to see the newly-released September covers dedicated to Trayvon Martin spark a heated conversation, and even draw some snipes. In fact, one could argue that was sort of the point.

“It’s just an unfortunate reality of race relations in America today,” said Amy Barnett, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, on NewsNation Thursday. “It’s the reality that there are many people out there who do not understand that African-American boys are targets. They are targets of violence, they are targets of racial profiling.”

The covers were met with swift criticism from conservative outlets, like Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy, and even a rumor that Tea Party members were planning a boycott, which ended up being untrue. The online panning, however, was real.

“I understand that there are many people out there who really do not comprehend the danger that our boys face just walking down the street on a day-to-day basis,” said Barnett.

EBONY’s upcoming September issue features four provocative covers, each released on Wednesday to a mixed reception. Three of the versions showcase powerful photographs of director Spike Lee, Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade, and actor Boris Kodjoe. The celebrities all appear dressed in a hoodies alongside their sons. The fourth version shows the surviving members of Trayvon Martin’s family–his parents, Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, and his brother, Jahvaris Fulton. “We are Trayvon” is the cover line, in red letters.

“For us, it is incredibly important that we reflect the concerns of the readership that we’ve been serving for the past nearly seven decades,” said Barnett. “We recognized that there’s been an issue regarding the plight of African-American boys in this country. So we started a series called ‘Saving our sons’ in the May issue of this year to address those concerns.”

September’s issue examines state Stand Your Ground laws, which allow people to use lethal force if they feel their lives are in danger, instead of requiring them to try to retreat. It also includes an interview with the Martin family, and a discussion with parents Wade, Lee, and Kodjoe about how they teach their children to deal with issues confronting the African-American community.

“It was really interesting to hear Dwyane and Boris and Spike talk about the fact that they need to caution their boys–about how to deal with authority, about how to deal with the police, about how to be incredibly careful when confronted in an environment in which they’re not comfortable, or they don’t understand,” said Barnett. “It is a shame that as parents of black boys, we have to be additionally concerned with the very lives of our children being threatened in today’s society.”