A Reflection on Starting Up: A Look at Our First Year

by fivefifths

fivefifths
Vann R. Newkirk II (fivefifths) is Co-Chief Scribe at Seven Scribes, a writer at Daily Kos, a fiction writer, blogger, futurist, and activist. Vann is currently working on a science-fiction novel and short story series and resides in Silver Spring, MD. Find him napping on a bus near you.

Ferguson changed everything.

 

It’s only been a little over a year since Michael Brown was killed by Darren Wilson and just about a year since Darren Wilson walked away from it all, scot-free. Between the marches, the die-ins, and the growing frustration as names were added to our chants, what strikes me most about the past year has been the sense of movement, not only in the capital-M sense, but in the most literal sense. The Movement has been about movement. It has been about action and finding ways to start things.

The world shifted on its axis, but along with the despair and the rage came that sense of movement and energy, the fierce urgency of the now. From that urgency came Seven Scribes.

We were always six from the beginning. Some friends, some strangers, but all mutually impressed on and all impacted by that urgency. The idea to start a blog or site or something was on all of our minds. We had email conversations about what we could do and how we could fill the burning holes in our spirits that drove us to act.

What we saw was a landscape where people felt deprived of a voice. People were dying, and regular outlets continued with the same non-diverse listicles as always. Even the content that was catered towards us often felt demeaning and facile, the work of interlopers rather than the work of chroniclers. A generation of young folks that had more to say than ever had nowhere to say it. We figured that we could try to become a place or group that at least helped. We could tell the stories pushing inside of ourselves and also help kindle the flames in others. The Seventh Scribe as an idea became the collective of all of those voices we could try to reach and showcase.

But still, no site. We had good ideas, we thought, but even just expressing them felt like hubris. We didn’t have a niche. We couldn’t do any of these things better than established outlets. We couldn’t ever get to the point of paying people. Nobody would take us seriously. Nobody would read us. Nobody would write for us. We didn’t have the time. We had every reason in the world as to why we couldn’t get the idea for Seven Scribes started. For a while, those reasons felt like the only possible version of truth.

But the energy of the Movement kept building, and with it our confidence that we could make a difference. The embrace of the phrase “Black Lives Matter” meant to us that Black voices had to matter too, and that we could provide a home to nuanced discussions that didn’t undercut those voices or lock them into Serious Conversations about Race or exploit their experiences for clicks. We told activists and writers and readers and artists about the plan and they all gave us the same information. Go.

And so we went. We built a website; but more than that, we were intentional about building a set of values and building a community. Whatever happens to the set of containers and logos and bits of code that makes a website, the Seven Scribes values and community could endure and color all of our work. And they guided our efforts to build that website, to create a place where voices of color in all shapes, genres, and forms could meld with our community and provide a space for those letters from the underground to prosper. Our core values also guided the finalization of our business plans, which led to our formation as an LLC last week.

We aren’t the only place that started in this time and space. The year has been a banner year for Black startups and for startups from people of color. Especially in the media space, people have broken free from a colonizer’s internet to build their own bastions of color and vibrancy in a larger space where black culture is consumed by the masses but never appreciated. We are siblings to those efforts, and between us all there is a constantly expanding and rapidly changing group of creators empowered by the same emotions.

As we grow and as our community grows, we have found that our community is what makes Seven Scribes great. Our best content has come from people who were empowered by our mission to write for the first time. Supported by that community, we were able to successfully raise enough money to pay those people and further empower them. The people support the people. The people grow. This is the beginning of what liberation looks like. We wrote this idea down a year ago, and the experience has been undoubtedly worth everything.

From us: thank you and we look forward to years of creating and developing.

 

About the Authors:
Published by fivefifths
Vann R. Newkirk II (fivefifths) is Co-Chief Scribe at Seven Scribes, a writer at Daily Kos, a fiction writer, blogger, futurist, and activist. Vann is currently working on a science-fiction novel and short story series and resides in Silver Spring, MD. Find him napping on a bus near you. View all posts by fivefifths

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