Ebony via Damon Young

It was October of 2011. I was in New York City do to a shoot for a story in Essence Magazine. While walking to Essence, I happened to randomly bump into Jamilah Lemieux in the street. Which, considering that New York City has 21 billion people and I happened to literally walk right into one of the 16 people there I personally knew, was crazy. And then she proceeded to tell me that she had just left a EBONY Magazine meeting where VerySmartBrothas was being discussed. Apparently, we were up for some type of honor. She also asked me to call her later that evening when I was done with Essence.

I did, and learned that the honor was a spot in EBONY's 2011 Power 100 issue. I also learned that EBONY was going to experience a huge digital revamp, Jamilah was (obviously) a part of it, and she asked if I wanted to be a part of it too. Fast forward to January of 2012, and I'm working for EBONY too.


Since then, my role with EBONY has evolved. I started off as all digital, and now I'm doing digital and print work. I've also gained invaluable experience working with and learning from the EBONY staff; Cory Townes, Aaron Rhodan, Melanie Martin, Kyra Kyles, and Aliya King to name a few, and Jamilah, Genese Cage, and Kierna Mayo in particular. I have no doubt that VSB would not be where it is today without what I've learned and experienced through EBONY.

All that to say that my feelings about this brilliant-ass, outrageous-ass, and explosive-ass November cover are not coming from a place of objectivity. I have an emotional and spiritual (and, to be frank, financial) tie to the people working there. And to the magazine. So take what I'm about to say with several dozen grains of salt.


But holy fucking shit. I don't think I've ever been more excited to read a magazine, and more honored to be a part of something. Which is still surreal to me. This issue of EBONY Magazine — with that amazing fucking cover — will be iconic. I know what it means to have that cover sent out to Black America. And I know people will buy it. Hate it. Collect it. Spit on it. Share it. Save it. And I have a column in there! How crazy is that?

I just…I just could not be prouder of Kierna and Jamilah and everyone else who's a part of this issue for being a part of this issue. And more appreciative of the opportunity to be a part of it too.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a columnist for GQ.com, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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