Ebony, the Awesome.

Via Instaboner, I’ve discovered that Ebony’s back issues are scanned and available online. Before you excoriate me for sending you to a magazine that is basically a brown-washed People, take a moment to think about the full import of this. Ebony from the 60s. Ebony from the 70s. All online.

Reasons why this is awesome:

1. The covers. Lightskinned bathing beauties and movie stars from the 60s, the shift to a darker skinned aesthetic during the 70s, and a black Jesus. Also, natural hair on men got its own cover story!

2. The ads. Raveen! Cutty Sark! Masengill Powder (it assures your daintiness, ladies)! Skin Lighteners!

3.The stories. Tallulah Bankhead: not a racist. “Why The Stars Go Broke”: answer, the same reasons they did 40 years ago. And a 1965 piece documenting the trials of an interracial married couple.

4. And a 1977 issue all about “The Black Woman,” which states: “She continues to represent ‘the multitude of paradoxes’ of her people.” That’s a far better summation than anything I’ve read or been told about the State of Black Women in America, lately.

Although we’ve debated the relevance of black pubs today, one thing’s not up for debate: Ebony’s back issues are a cultural goldmine. And it makes me wonder if we’ll have a different take on the Ebony of today in 30 years.

Latest posts by Shani (see all)

  • Grump

    Makes me wonder how different it will be from ours. I remember finding old issues of Jet at my college library. THAT was a goldmine. So much so, I was bringing people along to waste some free time thumbing through the issues.

  • The old issues of Ebony are hardbound over at UCLA. My ex-girlfriend and I would go on dates just to browse through the old issues from the ’60s and ’70s. The ads for Porcelana skin lightening cream featuring Dr. J’s ex-wife are burned into my brain for all the ‘effed up reasons.

    I wonder how long Ebony and Jet will survive in today’s new media world.

  • Zesi

    The really, really old ones are interesting too. Some of the articles on women, especially in the older issues, have a weird perspective on black women.

  • Zesi

    …but what’s really important are vintage Ebony Adviser articles…those things had me rolling.

  • Val

    This is why I scratch my head when people say Ebony/ Jet are not relevant. These mags chronicle the good, the bad and the weird about African America and America.

    Anyway about 2 years ago I started collecting vintage Jet mags. I have about 100 so far. I love looking through them.

    • They mean they’re not relevant now.

  • What I love, especially, is that the 1977 cover of Ebony questioned what had “gone wrong” between Black Women and Black Men…and we find that people are still asking similar forms of that question when people ask why it is that so many successful Black Women remain unmarried.

    • Clearly, we black people either need to take our relationship cues from white people or give up and start dating outside of our race. After 30 years of trying, it’s time to sh*t or get off the pot.

  • Zesi

    I don’t know what relationship cues there are to take from white people. I think the gender warz are engulfing the entire country. Our society has continued to change …I don’t think people (in general) have figured out how to successfully adapt “love and happiness” to men and women’s changing roles for any race.

    • No doubt. Just want to make sure you know that I was being sarcastic, though.

  • Zesi


  • rikyrah

    I spent a few hours just going through the 60’s. they were amazing. loved it.

  • Misty Knight

    These are AMAZING, Im currently reading through the early 60’s, but the peice about “The Hermit” Dr. Wheatly, and the crisis of placing the influx of abondoned interracial “Brown Babies” post WW2 (with child services wanting to place mixed or “brown” babies with only “light skin” families)
    -Just , WOW, some of the most interesting and puzzling Ive articles Ive ever read.

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