Why The Root’s Acquisition of Very Smart Brothas Is a Victory Lap for Everyone

During a delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon, and Shannon Sharpe’s brand of marital discord (co-starring his cohort-in- chief Skip Bayless), the following magically appeared in my newsfeed Friday morning:


To which I rose to my feet, howled at the air conditioning vent (because apparently the Moon doesn’t come out to play during rush hour), then performed Aaron Rodgers’ long lost Discount Double Check for my adoring television set. Then I texted Panama to congratulate him for going Super Saiyan on the rest of us who occupy the digital diaspora, before sorta-kinda-almost-maybe getting emotional as a tremendous wave of relief grabbed my forehead and baptized my Black ass.

For those of you out the loop, Very Smart Brothas is a daily digital magazine founded in 2008 by the big homies Panama Jackson and Damon Young. Built on the principles of insightful commentary, acerbic wit, and an unapologetic allegiance to bougie Blackness, their platform has transformed into the premier destination for Black minds, Black writers, and an endless cascade of White tears.

You also might recognize them from being our very first guests in the debut episode of the greatest podcast in the history of modern mankind, or co-piloting our watch party for "The New Edition Story" earlier this year in DC, or Alex and I’s musings on their website, or whatever the fuck else them niggas are up to now that they’re firmly entrenched outside of my tax bracket.

Which brings me to why I’m so gotdamn motherfucking happy for them.

As somebody who has poured thousands of dollars of my own bread, devoted twice as many man-hours, hired help out of my own pocket, fractured and frayed relationships (platonic or otherwise) all in the name of ambition, sacrificed career opportunities and the very little time I have with my son who lives in another state, and has inflicted irreparable harm to my physical, emotional, and psychological well-being all in the name of defying the odds and willing “The Extraordinary Negroes” into the tremendous success that it’s become in a year’s time, I can’t even begin to fathom what it took for them to reach this milestone.

Do ya’ll know how many times I’ve been so burned out that I wanted to throw in the towel? So frustrated and helpless I legit wanted to sell out? How many people (and businesses) I’ve had in my ear telling me I don’t need Alex or to bring them on board in his place? How many broken promises and dead ends I’ve had to endure?

Bruh. Building your own empire is not for the weak.

Which is why watching Damon and Panama crossing the finish line feels so vindicating. While God dozed off after creating the stars, the heavens, and the Earth, these two MacGyvered a digital enterprise from ingenuity and Black Blogosphere-residue. All while maintaining their integrity, their authenticity, and most importantly, their ownership.

They stayed the course, eluded the forbidden fruits in the Garden of Eden, and patiently waited for their turn at the podium. And in a world full of glorified celebrities, 140-charactered presidents, and reality TV stars, it’s a much needed memento that sometimes those who actually deserve a seat at the winner’s circle receive their formal invitation.

And for anyone who’s agonizing over the consequences of their own ambition, if Damon and Panama’s victory lap doesn’t put a battery in your back and imbue you with the same hope Ta-Nehisi Coates can’t seem to acquaint himself with, I don’t know what the fuck will.

So congratulations to the big homies Panama and Damon. Thank you for your perseverance, your valor, and your inspiration. Drinks on ya’ll.

Jay Connor

After a stint in the military and an extended crusade shepherding all of God’s children as a social worker, Jay Connor conceded to fate and relocated to Los Angeles in 2014 in order to chase the dream. When he’s not changing his son’s diapers or losing his grip on sanity while enduring 405 traffic, he’s a writer in the entertainment industry. Where currently he’s working on a number of projects, the most prominent being “Strange Angel”, a historical drama series produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions that is set to air on the AMC Network in the near future.