How Jet Magazine Helped Shape American Culture

From a New York Times section “African-American Art That’s Shaping the 21st Century”Mikalene Thomas talks here about the role of Jet magazine:

When I think about my life and my personal journey and my professional trajectory, I would have to think about Jet, as a cultural, social and political media entity that shaped not only African-American people but also American culture through entertainment, through images, through music and fashion and storytelling.

I think of Jet as being almost like the first form of what social media or Instagram is today. Especially like what its Beauty of the Week represented. These were everyday women, college girls, presenting themselves, submitting their profiles for a magazine, describing themselves and their interests, their hobbies, their likes and what they did. They were identifying themselves: “Hi. I’m Carol. I’m from Atlanta. I like to cook and I’m such and such.” It’s like the first sort of precursor to the selfie and how we share now.

Jet was such a leader in this form of self-professing and self-identifying. It was so much of what we’re doing now. And it’s so incredible that there’s going to be this archive. [The Jet and Ebony photo archive were sold in 2019 and will be transferred to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Getty Research Institute.]

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