As the year draws to a close, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. During my mediation and prayer today, I was reminded where I was 10 years ago to the day. I had moved back in with my parents in Memphis—living in my childhood bedroom—to help my mom during my dad’s cancer battle. I was terrified because two years prior, my husband and I were full-time caregivers to my mother-in-law who eventually died of cancer. At the time, I was working on a fledgling online magazine trying to figure out my pivot.
Earlier that year while scrolling through a bunch of cable channels, the idea for a Black-owned streaming service came to me. Weeks later, I learned about a business competition for women journalists, and I decided to pitch kweliTV instead of my online magazine. I became one of the 10 finalists, but I didn’t win any of the top 5 prizes. The judges said they weren’t “sure about the future of streaming.” So, I decided to abandon the idea after life happened. A month after losing the prize, I lost my newborn nephew, a month later my aunt died and then two months after that is when my dad was diagnosed with cancer—a week before Thanksgiving. That was a tough year. And when the new year hit, it didn’t get any easier. My dad ended up spending about six months in the hospital. On top of that, I got sick. I lost my full-time consulting job, and my dog became paralyzed. Ten years ago, everything seemed so uncertain. kweliTV was the furthest thing on my mind.
It wasn’t until a few years later, when the dust settled, that I thought about kweliTV again when I saw another business competition posted on Twitter for journalists of color. The deadline was in two days. It included a video pitch. I was hesitant to apply. I hate rejection. But I put my ego aside and spent the next 48 hours working on the long application. I became a finalist again and this time I won!
I’m going down memory lane because it is so easy to focus on the goals we didn’t meet, the “Ls” we took or the things that didn’t work out at the end of year instead looking back on how far we’ve come. Even with the progress of kweliTV, things still feel uncertain. I could write a book about startup challenges as a Black woman. But as the old folks say in church, “I may not be where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.”
Have an amazing holiday and new year!
P.S. My dad is 9 years cancer free!
DeShuna Spencer / Founder & CEO