Who is Block by Block? Meet emPower and DeShuna Spencer

By Kathleen Majorsky

emPower magazine is a site that focuses on social issues in the African-American community.

DeShuna Spencer wants her audience to take action in the African-American community. Spencer is a prime example of that goal herself: she took action by creating emPower.

“Another reason I started the magazine is because my boyfriend was murdered when I was 18 years old. My cousin was murdered when I was 17 and my uncle was murdered when I was 23. I know violence is in society, but the way young black men kill each other, it bothers me and I would love to be the person who helps reduce that in some kind of way. If I could at least rally up people and wake people up to what’s going on in the community, for them to actually take action. To me, that’s success. That’s what I want to get out of the publication,” Spencer says.

But there are a few obstacles in Spencer’s way to taking emPower to the next level: funding and mentorship.

“One of the hardest things has been trying to find a mentor. I would love to have a mentor, because I am really kind of out here on my own. I’m really trying to figure things out,” Spencer says.

Every experience with publishing emPower is a new lesson for Spencer, and she’s learned some tough ones. She’s learned to be patient with increasing site awareness and not taking things so personally.

“People might think I’m incompetent because I look young, but I’m still going to keep going. I used to second-guess myself. I just have to let that go. I’m just going to keep moving forward,” Spencer says.

Kathleen Majorsky, a journalist who worked with Michele McLellan and Janet Coats at RJI, is writing a series of posts called “Who is Block by Block”  for The Patterson Foundation website to introduce the foundation community to the sites and publishers whose work the foundation is supporting through Block by Block. We ‘re cross posting them here..

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