VSB Relaunched Two Years Ago Today. It’s Been A Ride. » VSB

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VSB Relaunched Two Years Ago Today. It’s Been A Ride.

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.

FullSizeRenderDamon 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.

#PJout

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • congrats to all the success….your success has inspired my own sports-based website called Champagne In the Locker Room http://www.CiTLR.com

    Hopefully I can interview you guys for the site #brothersworkingtogether

  • PriceIsRightHorns

    VSB is truly a gem. I wish you continued success.

  • Jennifer

    “we’re not on the cover of Forbes wearing “I Love Bougie Black Girl” shirts after all…”

    But, I bet you a two piece and biscuit with a side of red beans and rice that this is somewhere on your vision board.

    Congrats on all of your continued success. #BlackExcellence

    • Other_guy13

      Will this two piece be spicy or nah? If nah…this bet is worthless.

      • Jennifer

        Spicy chicken is implied.

        • Other_guy13

          Carry on.

        • Kas

          Is a given. We are not heathens after all .

        • Yuck to spicy..smells like bleach. lol

          • Kas

            Somebody check her Cuban card.

            • Spicy fried chicken from KFC smells like Bleach…

              Cuban food ain’t spicy, negro..lol

              i ain’t Mexican…lol

              • Gbadebo

                Which offender said KFC?!?!?

                • All of em..lol

                  • Jennifer

                    No, ma’am! I said no such thing! I was talking about Popeye’s. I thought that was a given too.

                    • Them too…lmao

                      I’d rather eat fried chicken from home though.. lol

                    • Jennifer

                      Wouldn’t we all?! Well, I take that back. I wouldn’t to eat everybody’s chicken from home. *stinkface*

                    • True dat.

              • Kas

                Sorry ma’am, I still gonna need to see some I.D.

              • RewindingtonMaximus

                KFC?

                Kilogram Funded Culo? Dat’s your litmus test?

                • Jennifer

                  So, KFC is the original Cocaine Chicken?

                  • RewindingtonMaximus

                    Yup. 11 herbs & spices and it took one disgruntled KFC employee after 45 years of business to finally spill the beans?

                    Blasphamey.

                    • Jennifer

                      The whistleblower’s name is Lamar, isn’t it? It feels like a thing some cat named Lamar would do.

                    • RewindingtonMaximus

                      Lamars be petty, that’s why

                    • Blueberry01

                      And some Andres…

                  • Jennifer

                    Chile, yes! I put in some cayenne or hot sauce with the buttermilk and chicken before refrigerating it overnight, and then add cayenne to the flour mixture before frying said chicken. Good eats!

                    • I could rock with this but hubby and offspring don’t do spicy. lol

                  • RewindingtonMaximus

                    You ground up jalepenos & crushed red pepper, add it to the batter!

                    • Oooor… just put hot sauce on it like normal, good black folks..

                      Jalapeño changes the flavor.. ?

                    • RewindingtonMaximus

                      fine fine fine do it the simple way

                    • Jennifer

                      Sir, this is a good tip. Get fresher heat than you get from the powdered cayenne and hot sauce. Might try it next time…but, with a little bit of habanero instead of jalapeno. Warning: I probably won’t share it with you.

                    • RewindingtonMaximus

                      Yup that’s pretty much the thing for me…preparation always takes time but if I want the good stuff, I know I have to do the work myself instead of the powdered version.

                      Just know if you eat all my chicken, we go together.

                    • Jennifer

                      “Just know if you eat all my chicken, we go together.”

                      These are the words I’ve been waiting for 30-something years to hear.

                    • RewindingtonMaximus

                      lmao had I known this is all you required……

                    • Jennifer

                      Listen. It’s My priorities have changed over the years. Good looks fade, but tasty fried chicken is forever.

                    • RewindingtonMaximus

                      That is a really good philosophy right there madam, and I aimt to take advantage of it.

                    • Jennifer
                    • RewindingtonMaximus
                  • Nik White

                    They just insulting chicken!

          • Jennifer

            *clutches pearls*

            • KMN

              I love this gif…she looks super offended lol

            • I absolutely LIVE for Diane.

          • Sigma_Since 93

            *Yuck to spicy..smells like bleach*

            Record scratch

            Stare

            Sends @NegraWithTumbao:disqus to corner

      • AnswerMe

        No spicy.

        • Other_guy13

          Again??? We are not compatible at all in culinary world.

    • NonyaB

      An article on how spaces like this, which celebrate historically underserved audiences are blowing up is long overdue.

    • KMN

      Listen as long as it’s not cocaine chicken we good…

      • Sigma_Since 93

        Eat that cocaine chicken and get your Gator on!

        • KMN

          ROFL with a side of Alagas….and a biscuit and I’m golden lolol
          How you and the fam doing…and are we due for a reup?

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        You must not be ready to be tweaking

        • KMN

          Nah I’m good…I’m a hood girl…seen enough tweaking for several lifetimes…twerking though might be an option option

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            *daps*

            I like how you shifted focus right there

            • KMN

              *daps* gotta make it do what it do :)

              • RewindingtonMaximus

                Yea we gonna get along fine

          • Jennifer

            Twerking chicken…hmm. Perhaps our next chain of chicken eating establishments.

            The commercials would be ridiculous. Lemme call Big Freedia.

            • KMN

              ROFL YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAS!!! I will fly to NOLA with you for that lolol

    • ChokeOnThisTea

      I hope that two piece combo is from Bojangles with a side of dirty rice and a BoBerry biscuit. ?

      • Jennifer

        Ma’am…

  • Other_guy13

    Cograts…it was a team effort…”I would like to thank all the little people, myself included”…oh wait…I didn’t do it. Well Congrats to all of VSB…this site gets me through my day. I enjoy your post and comments section. The sense of community is second to none. Keep up the great work everyone and see y’all at the BBQ that PJ said was gone happen (I heard you say it and don’t say I didn’t). http://ak-hdl.buzzfed.com/static/2015-01/29/14/imagebuzz/webdr05/anigif_optimized-15943-1422560772-1.gif

    • Tee

      What BBQ?

      • Other_guy13

        He vaguely mentioned it in the Podcast but thought a ninja wasn’t listening…but ohh no sir…
        https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/f8/1f/21/f81f2119d18f37c2c7dbe7e0a7a0a209.jpg

        • panamajackson

          Naw. I know folks were listening. I’m on it. We’re looking at August. I’m gonna lock down a date soon. Prepare for travel.

          • Other_guy13
          • Tee

            I’m there – as long as Todd ain’t cooking the meat.

            • Sigma_Since 93

              I’d rather have Hott Todd on the grill than the guy who suggested we go Vegan.

              • I’ll bring the potato salad!

                • ChokeOnThisTea

                  FOH!!!

                • Buster Cannon

                  You can leave it at home, we won’t mind

                  • Sigma_Since 93

                    shots fired!!

                    why you treating Ruby’s cooking like they did Bird’s on Soul Food????

                    • Buster Cannon

                      Oh, it’s not a shot at her cooking, just potato salad in general

                  • Nope. I’ll make enough to feed an army. You don’t have to take any at all, I won’t mind. Your loss.

                  • IsitFridayyet?

                    *Reflects on Buster Cannon’s and AnswerMe’s comments around food.*

                    Do we have a match here?

                    • AnswerMe

                      I love (good) potato salad.

                    • Tee

                      I love (good) (homemade) potato salad.
                      Fixed that for you :-)

                    • AnswerMe

                      Thank ya kindly!

                    • Nik White

                      VSB is the gift that keeps on givin!

                • RewindingtonMaximus

                  I’ll bring the Pepto Bismol

                • Conrad Bess

                  Although I’ve reduced my meat intake…

                  • More for me and the rest of VSB

                  • Nik White

                    Dude – be vegan on the weekdays!

                    • Conrad Bess

                      I’ve seen too much fu ck ery with how the meat industry handles animals. Love me some steak, goat, kalamari, kingfish, et al., but I can dine on some kale.

              • Tee

                A Vegan section would be nice. I’ve thought about cutting out meat all together lately.

                • Sigma_Since 93

                  Vegan and BBQ’s don’t mix. You not gonna have me around the yummy smells from the grill looking like this

                  and all I’m eating are plants.

              • Kas

                Nothing wrong with vegan that a side of ribs and big steak won’t fix.

                • Nik White

                  Wrapped in bacon please!

            • RewindingtonMaximus

              You don’t want to touch his meat?

            • How did I get involved? LOL

          • I’M THERE.

          • MsSula

            I told y’all that we need the real advanced warning… We have oceans to cross and sh!t!

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Got them bottles & dominoes on deck.

          • *does burfday monf twerk*

            East Coast?!

          • brothaskeeper

            *expletive*! I’ll be back in school! Can y’all teleconference a brothaskeeper?

          • miss t-lee

            Don’t play.

          • KC

            While planning events, don’t leave Atlanta out of the plans :)

            • Tee

              Airfare is looking real good right now too.

  • Tee

    “(we’re not on the cover of Forbes wearing “I Love Bougie Black Girl” shirts after all),”

    Not yet, Panama. I can definitely see you [Champ especially] rocking that shirt on the cover of Forbes and Essence. Seriously tho, I’m happy to see the growth over the years and proud to be a part of this here comments section.

  • Congrats. I have no idea how much money my boss has paid me to be on VSB but I’m sure he will be paying stacks on stacks on stacks in the future. Thanks for being my home away from work.

  • Two years went by fast as $h*t. Congrats on the anniversary, and congrats to the community. You guys got me through more than one rough patch and I’ve made awesome friends on here. Best of luck in the future!

    • Word. This blog got me through the collapse of my marriage and my second go round as a free man. Those early days were like mother’s milk. I might have legit lost it without VSB.

  • Jermaine Cole is amazing though, I don’t comprehend the jabs he always gets :-(

    That aside, Congrats Champ and Panama on such a successful site! I’ve thorough enjoyed my time here and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. I would also like to suggest that I become the in-house NFL affiliate for the forseeable future. We can discuss it at a later time of course

  • Mortal Man

    I’ve been homeless since Ta-Nehisi Coates shut down comments on his blog. I’m glad I stumbled upon VSB. It’s my main hangout on the Web now.

    • Hugh Akston

      same here…but i don’t blame him though…but i hope VSB does not go that route…(i’ve noticed some posts the comment sections were closed after a few days, or weeks???)…fingers cross

      • Mortal Man

        I think this community has several ways of combating the trolls that bought down Coates’ comments section.

        One is that we don’t take them seriously. Flame wars are stomped out when they are embers.

        Second is that we’re generally an isolated online community- bougie/curious Black folk and a few of our allies here. Our common identity means we don’t argue too much about what social norms are and aren’t acceptable here. If you can’t do it at the cookout or Thanksgiving, you can’t do it here.

        And third is Disqus’ moderation/downvote option. This didn’t exist in the same capacity earlier and allows very smart brothers and sisters (and all in between for our gender fluid brethren) to quickly bury unproductive posts.

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          Very true. And most of all……we just aint with the nonesense. We petty over here.

        • brothaskeeper

          NegraWithTumbao = Chief of Security

        • Jennifer

          But, if Damon, PJ, or the VSB brand in general were to blow up the way Coates did, I could see it happening here. The comments section was a victim of his success.

          • Mortal Man

            That would only happen if we get an influx of outsiders who don’t abide by our norms. We don’t feed our trolls- or at the very least, the attention we give them doesn’t have the nutrition they crave. But get other demographics who’ll pull down threads engaging with them and that’s when things go downhill.

            You are right though. All of it is a problem of growth.

            • Blueberry01

              I find that trolls either get shut down by facts, logic, or being cussed out by Negra…

      • LMNOP

        VSB will never go the no commenting route. Can you imagine how we all would react to something like that?

        • Hugh Akston

          I came to Coates’ articles when he was deeply involved in the comment sections…it never occurred to me that they would shut down his comment sections exclusively*

          maybe not all of the articles here may go that route, but i can see in the future some articles not allowing comments on them…i was a lurker for a while on this site….once again i never thought foresaw that some of threads would be closed off…after a week or two…i’ve been participating in online discussions for a while…and the pattern stays the same…its only a matter of time before there is a moderator that may even ban you or I…for having a dissenting opinion…seems unlikely now…but i’ve seen my fair share of sites going down that road…now they are only a shadow of their former selves…some have even shut down…

          • LMNOP

            People who are commenting regularly here know that a discussion is over a day or two after the post goes up, it’s only trolls commenting weeks after the fact, so I think comments being closed after a certain amount of time is not necessarily an ominous sign.

            • Hugh Akston

              i hope you’re right..

            • hi! I just saw your reply to me from a post a month ago. #fail. LOL.

              yes, Amy Juicebox formerly known as Keisha Brown on the VSB streets. Which is funny because there is a new KB on here (she is not me, i am not her. LOL). I am doing well though! Thanks so much for asking! I should pop by more often. I remember sitting in VSB comments literally for the entire work day. #Memories

              baby is turning 4 and going into jr kindergarten in sept. *slient tears* but he’s amazing. doing it alone – he makes it easy by being amazing.

              how are YOU!??

              • LMNOP

                Turning 4? Wow, so I guess he’s not a baby at all anymore. It’s crazy how much kids grow and change in just a few years. Glad to hear you’re doing well :)

    • kingpinenut

      Welcome home VSB is *the* place

  • NonyaB

    Congrats and happy bidness burfday! Next time, I want some brown likkah wid it. Or at least some wine.

    • MsSula

      She is looking mighty fine in this! Them arms tho!

      • NonyaB

        Right? Mizz Viola stays slaying.

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