Let’s have the Talk

“One monkey don’t run no show…”

Photo by: DeAndra Edwards, ig @heybirde

Ten20 is a dream I had one day in a slump of despair and anger….I know not the prettiest of beginnings but there is a story behind it. I had been back home in Dallas for some time searching for a job that would recognize my skill and -if I must say so myself- genius as a writer. However, after literally trying any and everything I could to get my work seen by the right people…I was overlooked.

Me, the two time Editor-in-Chief of The Southern Digest at THE Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge flagship of the only Historically Black College and University system in existence, me who had led a staff of first time writers to the top of all black college media, me who had on numerous occasions beat out seasoned professionals to stories, Louisiana Press Association third place photographer, New York Times Student Institute standout who brought a tear to the eye of one the top copy editors in the nation -I’m very proud of that moment-, me who trained the staff that ranked nationally against big name schools whose journalism department funding matched nearly our entire athletics budget…Me who had so much promise was overlooked.

I was frustrated sinking into deeper into a pit of despair, I thought maybe my glory days of being a respected, often feared journalist were behind me. I sought different professions, even spending time working at a tourist attraction for a bit…until one night fate put me in front of the staff of the Dallas Morning News. They were having an exclusive party at the top the Reunion Tower and as luck would have it I was on duty, I switched out with the elevator operator and pimped myself out to some of the biggest names in journalism for our region. Then it happened, the Executive Editor stepped on the elevator and I sold myself like water to dying a man in the desert. He gave me his card and told me to call him Monday morning…and of course I did. Then I emailed…then I called again…then I emailed, called, and went up there…no avail. I was told he would get back to me when he had chance, well I’m guessing he never got that chance…and neither did I. Once again overlooked…

So I sank…drifting further and further into the dark abyss. I grew angry at the world I felt was ignoring my glory and vowed to make them all regret it. Sitting on the floor in the hallway of my late grandparents house, my Granny’s words suddenly hit me like a brick:

“One monkey don’t run no show, there is always a way around…over…or through something or body.”

Mary Jane Benton

This is one of the most truthful statements I carry with me, there is always a way to get to your goal no matter who stands before you, no matter what obstacle gets in the way…if you want it, you’ll find a way to get it. I took her words and from there it gave birth to an idea…a notion that everyone and everything has its place and time in the sun. An idea that fosters the life, the culture, the soul of the often forgotten. A spotlight on the ever overlooked.

I sought to give life to this idea but had no idea what to call it. In my studies I found that sometimes a narrowed, focused goal will lead you to a name that can speak for itself. I first had to figure who it was that I wanted to give a home to…I simply needed only to look in the mirror. I wanted serve those who look like me, who has lived a life similar to mine, whose interests gravitate towards mine. I was southern gentleman who has a big family, HBCU pride, and has traveled between the Southern United States riding along Interstate 10 and 20…then it hit me, not only is this my demographic but it was a great representation of me. Full of life, full of culture, rich in diversity, and its greatness is as you might have guessed it overlooked.

Thus Ten20 Magazine was born…a place for the often passed over south to get its time in the sun. A place where those who have plenty to say can gain their voice, somewhere that gives life an legitimacy to those stories that go overlooked.

We aim to be the voice of that’s not always heard and the light that shines on the beauty that is the ‘Souf’ *South for you northerners*, there will plenty lovely southern colloquialisms here so get used to it. I am Norman J. Dotson Jr., Editorial Director of Ten20 Magazine…a name and brand who is sure to give a platform to the oppressed, mistreated, forgotten, and yeah if I hadn’t mentioned it the overlooked.

Welcome Home!

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