While being on Facebook and still not understanding what Snapchat is used for might make me the old guy at the club, ye olde Facebook does have one function that serves to heal the world, and make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race. Facebook’s memory function of days past is one of those cute things that harkens back to things long forgotten and moments we hope to never relive since there doesn’t seem to be a “remove for negativity” filter on it.
This morning, while checkin’ the ‘Book, I was reminded that two years ago today, June 17, 2014, Damon and I, with the help and assistance of viewers like you, relaunched VerySmartBrothas.com, with a new look and attitude.
We went from Very Smart Brothas to VSB since we were including several new writers, some of whom weren’t (and at last check still aren’t) brothas at all. We decided to go from a mostly one-piece-daily publication to a multiple post per day outfit. We brought in our friends and neighbors to help us Get Out Our Dreams, and many of them are still participants today, or off on their own adventures doing bigger and better things.
Oh what a two years its been.
Typically this is Damon’s lane, but allow me to do a bit of…achievementizing. Or some facsimile of such. Our traffic has been growing at an exponential rate. More people visit VSB per day than ever. We have more posts up and have more contributors than I think we even planned back then, even if we still want to have more.
We’ve started to dream. What I mean by that is in the post where we announced our relaunch, Damon included a piece from the grant application (which he was eventually awarded that transformed VSB) about what we wanted to be in the web space. Here’s what he wrote:
Why exactly do I want to do this?
Well, I’m an avid reader. My occupation calls for it, but I also read for fun. And, while I haven’t stopped enjoying books—Chuck Klosterman’s latest, I Wear the Black Hat, was my favorite read this summer—most of this reading occurs online. Gawker, EBONY, Slate, Salon, Jezebel, Grantland, The Root, Clutch, and The Atlantic are a few of my favorite haunts. Each of these digital magazines have multiple sections, numerous daily features, large communities, and dozens of talented, intelligent, insightful, opinionated, irreverent, and passionate writers at their disposal.
Yet, only three of these places are led by people of color (EBONY, The Root, and Clutch). And, none are led by a young Black man. (Well, relatively young.)
My goal is for VSB to fill that void; to be a comprehensive, self-sustaining place with the same cultural impact as my favorite daily reads…but aimed at a handsomely expanded version of the audience VSB already draws.
And for the most part, those dreams have become a reality. We went from Hollis to Hollywood. While we’re obviously two very driven creatives, VSB is pretty much a business now and the business end of things is becoming more clear. The full potential scale of VSB has started to crystallize in ways that while I believe we thought about in theory, I’m not sure we had the ideas of how to do it. That’s changing.
Damon and I have had more conversations about our direction, especially editorially, than ever before. We talk about what we want VSB to look like and more importantly, what we don’t want VSB to look like. We talk about how to get there in very attainable ways. That’s created more than a few hours length conversations and disagreements, necessary ones, that help us come together to figure out what our joint vision for VSB looks like. Be clear, VSB goes where Damon and I take it, and the two of us together, with our separate strengths that work in tandem, seem to be poised to have the opportunity to do things with VSB we just hadn’t really envisioned, at least clearly.
We’ve started fruitful partnerships, networked with some powerful people, and have spent more time on the phone (especially in the past few weeks) with people wondering what exactly it is we want to do with VSB. Telling people that we’d like to take over the world doesn’t suffice anymore because now they’re asking how and it’s become an answer that requires actual self-actualization and reflection.
Two years since we relaunched, we may not be in the most optimal position (we’re not on the cover of Forbes wearing “I Love Bougie Black Girl” shirts after all), but we’re in about as good a position as one can ask for for two dudes who started writing about relationships many moons ago and then decided to turn a hobby into a shot at a dream. We wanted to make VSB a space where new hungry, writers of color could come and take a shot and we’ve been doing that in spades.
We’ve been successful so far at doing what we intended to do, what all of those email conversations suggested. While we still may have far to go, we see what where we can take VSB. And that’s awesome.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a least a paragraph shoutout to all of you who come here, read, comment, come to events, and just actively participate in VSB as a whole. Many of us have become real friends through this forum because 95 percent of the time, VSB is a space that fosters positive interactions. And we know that its not something that we could do all alone. We know how protective the community is over VSB and its appreciated. It’s help us keep pushing and shoot for the stars. We’re thankful that you guys and gals are all here and we know what a jewel we have. As do most other people who make mention of our comments section when speaking of the fact that one shouldn’t read comments anywhere but here and maybe a handful of other places.
So thank you, from the heart. This whole VSB experience has been a hell of a ride. When we started neither Damon nor I had families, kids, or anything. Now we’re family men who still have the luxury and good fortune to try to make our dreams come true.
And if J. Cole can go platinum with no features, then anything is possible.