It is July, 2010, and I am on a plane discovering Janelle Monáe. She is an up-and-coming performer, and I am a 19-year-old college student reading about her on io9. It is October 4, 2019. I am covering New York Comic Con with the rest of io9, and I am afraid that people will not understand what racism actually is as they watch HBO’s Watchmen. In January, 2017, I publish my first piece for io9, and I know that my time at Fusion, or perhaps Splinter, is coming to an end. It is December, 2021. I am also leaving G/O Media.
I have neither the patience nor the time to write an entire going away post using Watchmen as a framing device. What I do have, though, is the desire to speak to you all openly about what my time at io9 has meant to me. I came to io9 looking for a pronounced pivot out of general “hard news”—stories about police brutality, mealy mouthed politicians, and manipulative corporations—that had left me mentally drained and emotionally hardened. I thought that channeling my energy into thinking and writing about art might be a way to rekindle my passion for writing as a whole, and in the very beginning, that’s what happened.
io9 gave me the change of focus that I was looking for, but I was surprised to learn that, when it comes to overall pace and intensity, genre entertainment news can be an unwieldy beast unto itself that’ll run you deep into the ground if you aren’t careful. Working with each and every single one of my brilliant io9 colleagues down in the content mines taught me how to be careful that way—mindful of maintaining a healthy balance between excitement and criticality.
Expressing and explaining my opinions about art comes easily to me now in a way that it didn’t when I first started here, and lot of that stems from how io9’s editors and my fellow writers always made the site feel like a place committed to getting people to think more deeply about the entertainment we’re all consuming. You cannot read one of Evan’s comics dissections, James’ treatises and breakdowns, or Cheryl’s deep dives into horror, and not plainly see how passionate they are about their work. Germain’s reviews, Beth’s videos, and Rob’s missives from the Arrowverse all helped me learn how much joy there is to be found in fandom, and Autumn has been nothing but excellent at helping us all better understand just how to share all of our stories. io9 would not be the site it is today without all of the energy Jill poured into keeping our eyes focused on unexplored angles and stories that genuinely meant something to all of us not just as fans or consumers, but as reporters who genuinely care about the beats we’ve followed.
The io9 team was there for me from the jump—helping me cultivate my voice, giving me the time and space to figure out how I wanted to fit into the site’s larger legacy, and if it were not for them, I’m beyond certain that I would have left much much earlier. I want to be exceedingly clear about this next bit: as much as I have cherished my colleagues and my time writing for this site, I will never forget the consistent level of animosity and hostility that a lot of my writing—particularly my writing about race—elicited from people who considered themselves a part of io9’s core audience.
Angry commenters aren’t the reason that I’ve decided to leave, but as I’ve looked back at my time here, I’ve been reminded of how often I found myself being told to leave by various people fixated on truly deranged idea that, simply by writing about Black people, Black experiences, and Black stories within genre media, I was somehow “ruining” io9 or working against the site’s ethos. I’ve long since made my peace with the reality that there are just some people who take the kinds of stories I write—stories about marginalized people, stories about laborers fighting for better working conditions, stories that try to pose difficult questions about who we are as people—as personal attacks. In that peace I found strength and a sureness that I was doing the right thing here, but also a confidence in my ability to determine when the time would be right to tap out.
That time has finally come, and while I will miss hanging out with some of the best damn people in this business, I’m excited to see what the future brings—not just for myself, but for everyone who’s had a hand in making io9 the place that it is.
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