Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"The End" Is Just the Beginning -- A Query to Essence Magazine

Attn. News Editor
Essence Magazine
New York, NY 10020

March 20, 2011

Dear Essence Magazine,
I am a long-time fan of your publication and Facebook friend. I am contacting the publication to propose a feature story about an important news issue that is of relevance to women of the African Diaspora. To that end, this is a query.

A United States-born, African-American woman, I consider myself a world citizen who has of late been reflecting on myriad angles and aspects of hot chocolate on my blog, Valerie's Vignettes at

As part of my recent exploration of hot chocolate -- a series I have dubbed affectionately as the Cocoa Chronicles -- I have learned much about the struggles of women in African regions of the international "Cocoa Belt," and more about efforts of other Africans to improve conditions for themselves and other Africans. It is an important story that I feel is worth exploring further, particularly as tensions rise in the Ivory Coast, the "Jewel of West Africa."

Here in the U.S., the notion of "lifting one's self up by one's boot-straps," is a well-known phrase. It refers to the notion and process of working independently toward self-sufficiency, a process in which education and personal responsibility are keys to empowerment.

It is in this same spirit that I have worked to inform myself, while writing, posting stories and developing my blog. Over the course of this effort, I have become aware of one particular non-governmental organization (N.G.O.) that is doing this, too, as featured in a recently published Q&A posted on my blog.

Part of what I hope will become a five part piece, "The Hot Cocoa Belt around the World" by Valerie Williams-Sanchez, seeks to inform and educate those throughout the African Diaspora about the current struggles in Ivory Coast and the important work going on in African by African peoples.

For Essence magazine, I would invite the publication to publish the piece along with yet to be written, PART V, which would include a final section, featuring original reporting on African women, who have triumphed and transcended the abuses of the Cocoa Belt and the industries it sustains.

Immediately, please feel free to visit my blog. Read the stories, including the first, Graffiti, (, a personal statement of sorts, and consider this a proposal to be retained to conduct original reporting on behalf of the publication on this topic.

I look forward to working with Essence, and to creating an informative and important entry into the volume of knowledge, awareness and activism about women of the African Diaspora.


Valerie Williams-Sanchez

(c) 2011 Valerie Williams-Sanchez. All rights reserved.

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