An Empowering Conversation With Susan L. Taylor

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An Empowering Conversation With Susan L. Taylor


As person in the media industry, I have always admired the success that Susan L. Taylor was able to amass as the editor-in-chief of Essence Magazine. Taylor worked at Essence, a magazine for African-American women, for 37 years, including serving as its editor-in-chief.  She did for Essence what I dream of doing with Savvy Lifestyle. She helped create a platform for black women to read and see themselves in a positive light.

Month after month thousands of women around the world anxiously await the delivery of Essence to their mailboxes. Every year nearly 400,000 people travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Music Festival, an event that has a $170 million dollar economic impact on the city.


While our targeted demographics are different, Savvy targets young professional men and women ages 21 to 40 and Essence’s demo is African American women between 18 and 49, there lies some vast similarities in vision.

Taylor was the keynote speaker for the 2012 Emerging Leaders Summit, but before her Saturday morning speech, she spent her Friday night doing what comes just as natural to her as writing… mentoring. She held an intimate evening where she shared stories of her life, answered questions and gave advice.

The 67 year-old Taylor is an iconic female figure, not only in the journalism world, but to women period. As I sat and listened to her speak, it was apparent that she had a wealth of inspiration, knowledge and encouragement for all.

Hurt People Hurt People…

There are some people you have to love from a distance. That sister may be as fine as she can be, but if she’s confused and really emotionally unstable, you are going to have a problem. I don’t care how fine the body may be of that brother talking to you, he may have and be everything that you dreamed about, but if he’s confused and doing things that are hurtful to himself you are asking for trouble. So look beyond the accoutrements. Look to who we are on the inside. Don’t love me because I’m fine, firm and 22. I’m not going to forever be fine firm and 22.

Hands That Serve Are Holy Than Lips That Pray…

God wants you to roll up your sleeves and do the work yourselves. Pray…your prayers are for yourself. To remind you that you are more than what you see and that God not only has your back, but God is your back. God doesn’t need your prayers. The Holy  Spirit is all knowing, all omnipotent. The Holy Spirit is consistent.

That’s Not The Love I Want…

We are mindless when it comes to consumption, especially us women. We just buy and buy. We feel bad we buy. We feel good we buy. We will have 20 handbags and say ‘which one should I pick today.’  I stopped buying so much, I have property. I want things that grow in equity. Life is not a fashion show. Whatever I wear is going to be fly, but are you going to love me because I have on a new sweater. If you are loving me for those things, that’s not the love I want.

You Never Arrive…

Look at your life and see what you need and move forward. I’m still growing, I didn’t know anything about the non-profit sector. I’m a magazine maker. I produce TV shows and concerts, but I’m learning. I’m open and it’s fun. You know what? You never arrive. In life, you never arrive. Life is an unending sweet challenge, moving from challenge to challenge to challenge. You look back and you think, “oh I thought I would die back there, but I didn’t . So what’s next and what did you come to teach me?”


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No-One Can Take What’s For You..

So much of it is a competition for the male interest. I think we cure that within healing circles. We need that intergenerational mix. We need the mature women to bring the young women… this could be a wonderful circle. Coming together every two weeks or so and talking about  the hurts, the wounds we cause one another and help women to understand that when something is for you, no one can take it from you. Dashing someone else only dashes yourself. You don’t wound someone else without wounding yourself. You don’t see people’s pain, but they bring their pain with them wherever they go. If you take the time to look beyond their behavior and try to get to the core of who they are, you see the hurt.

The Future of The Printed Magazine

The magazine business is in locks and I’m glad I’m not in it today. It is not a journey that I would want to be on.There is so much digital media and everything is so available. You have to be smart in figuring out what are people going to wait a month for and really pick this up to know. The thing that people have not figured out about digital is how to market it and really make money online.  When a magazine comes to your house monthly, people say there’s my Essence, my magazine I love, but are you going to remember to go online once a month to check out a magazine.

A Village On Fire

Black boys are killing one another. White boys are becoming mass murders. White girls are starving themselves to death. Latinos have the highest rates of suicide and black girls are dying of AIDS. The village is on fire. We have to take responsibility of our communities. We have to have a strong spiritual center for when things fall apart, because things will fall apart. Life is laughter, it’s tears, it’s losing and it’s gaining. There are going to be wins and there are going to be loses. So when things fall apart, you come to the spirit within yourself and know that this too shall pass and whatever you are going through you are going through for your learning, not your punishment.

A Call To Action

The National CARES Mentoring Movement is a call to action to able, stable, black people, especially our beautiful black men. We need them to get involved in mentoring; giving their wisdom, courage, their maleness into the hearts and minds of our young black brothers, because they are losing their way because they don’t have strong men in their lives. Of course we are trying to secure boys and girls and it’s a massive campaign in nearly  60 cities around the country. Basically we recruit mentors, prepare them and then deploy them to where they need to be— Boys and Girls clubs, tutors, graduation coaches. Teaching them values and character of what young boys and girls need to succeed.

Written by Shameka L. Reed

1 Comment

  1. Crystal says:

    I really enjoyed reading this!!! Great Job!!!

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