When I was a teenager in the south suburbs in the early 1990s, I was a giant nerd.

I was black and outspoken in a mostly white, conservative high school, and I was fortunate to make friends with a multicultural mix of fellow misfits, many of whom are still my besties today. I loved sci-fi before it was socially acceptable, I got caught the single day I ditched classes, and the most Rebellious thing my friends and I ever did was sneak into Lakeview to snag copies of the Chicago Reader.

We’d pore over them religiously every week, drinking too-strong coffee at Scenes or not-strong-enough coffee at the Punkin’ Donuts while watching the parade of people going into what was then a gay bar at Belmont and Halsted. For me, the Reader, along with magazines like Sassy and Jane, made being a nerdy misfit cool and enviable, and I got glimpses into a world I would never have known existed. I felt seen and understood.

The sense of coolness, belonging and community I got from the Reader was something I strived for when I founded Rebellious in 2012 and relaunched in 2016. I wanted other feminist-identified misfits my age to have a publication that felt like home, where they could be their whole irreverent selves and be celebrated.

Like so many other entrepreneurs, I created my own dream job. 

I built a team, and together we’ve built a brand and an ambitious plan for the future of alternative, woman-owned, inclusive feminist media. 

And then, the Reader job came calling. 

It’s an opportunity too big and amazing to put into words, and it feels like the culmination of everything I’ve ever done personally and professionally. I’ll admit that it’s difficult to walk away from the day-to-day at Rebellious. But I owe it to 17-year-old me to see where this rabbit hole goes. I believe as fervently in the mission of the Reader now as I did then, and I can’t wait to work with their team.

Rebellious will continue to kick ass, that will not change, but you will see some shifts in the coming months as we all adjust. I am so proud of everything we’ve done, and I wouldn’t trade a day of this, even the hardest day, for anything. 

I’m thrilled about the future of Rebellious, and I hope you’ll join me on my new adventure at the Reader. 

In Rebellion,

Karen Hawkins is the Founder and Rebelle in Chief of Rebellious Magazine. She is a recovering mainstream media reporter and editor who wants to thank her former boss for naming the online magazine she's...