Kara Brown resurrects ‘Jezebel’ column, Shade Court

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Kara Brown Photo provided by Kara Brown.

Kara Brown
staff writer, Jezebel
Tufts University, B.A.

Kara Brown is a prolific writer for Jezebel, the feminist website covering celebrities and culture owned by Gawker Media. Last week, Gawker announced it was shutting down after an expensive lawsuit left the company bankrupt. Brown will no doubt quickly find a new home for her work, especially her column “Shade Court,” which at the urging of author Jamaica Kincaid and out of a “great deal of patriotism and sense of duty,” Brown resurrected in recent weeks.

While the columns running under the moniker of Judge Brown are witty and sarcastic, Brown also has investigative chops. One of her groundbreaking stories was an investigation into the fees celebrities charge for social media product endorsements.

The story grew from a reader tipster, who owned a company that used celebrities to endorse its products and agreed to make celebrity fee inquiries. “Those figures help shine a light on lucrative but oftentimes dishonest practice of brands paying celebrities to push products on social media without clearly identifying that the post in question is an advertisement,” explains Brown. “Technically, most of the celebrities and companies paying them are violating FCC guidelines about clearly delineating ads from organic, non-sponsored posts.”

The Path

Before becoming a journalist, Brown worked in public relations. Her big break came when I Jezebel republished one of her personal blog posts recounting her experience with street harassment. Brown was struck by the revelation that people outside of her immediate circle found my writing funny and interesting. It was then that she began to consider writing for a living.

“I blogged for about two years, every day for no money. My job at Jezebel is a direct result of that work so I would say it worked out. I think it’s one thing to write for a personal site or blog for free and something entirely different to put in free labor at a for-profit company. The day I got my first check for a story was the day I stopped working for free.”


In the article, “Am I Going to Write About Murdered Black People Forever?” Brown writes:

I can continue to vote and go to protests and sign petitions and donate money and get in arguments with racist white people. And I can write. I can write again and again for as long as the this nation piles up black bodies. But when you’ve just watched a man bleed to death after a routine traffic stop while a child sits in the back seat, it sure as hell doesn’t feel like much.

@Kararbrown pinned tweet


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