About us

Scalawag is a journalism and storytelling organization that illuminates dissent, unsettles dominant narratives, pursues justice and liberation, and stands in solidarity with marginalized people and communities in the South. Online, in person, and through our family of engaged members, Scalawag reimagines the roots and futures of the place we call home.

The stories we tell matter and move conversations forward. Our programs create rich connections among Southerners and throughout the South: between writers and readers, changemakers and communities; from urban to rural, from local to state. Together, we lay the groundwork for social change.

Cover image from Scalawag's first issue. Image by Julian Plowden.

Our theory of change

  • Right relation: We are in a generative, reciprocal relationship with community, organizers, and movements.
  • Community-driven reporting: Our reporting and storytelling is informed and driven by the needs of our community including our partners. Our community trusts us to share their stories and as a source of information because of the relationships we've built with them.
  • Outcomes: Storytelling or reporting leads to policy changes, support to movement work, narrative shift, increased solidarity and connection, the nourishing of radical imagination, and the creation of pathways to careers in journalism, literature and the arts to people who have not traditionally had access.
  • Impact: Repeated outcomes from Scalawag and other reporting media makers in conjunction with the work of movements leads to transformational change

How we work

In 2019, we paid 135 different authors from the region, totaling over $46,000 dollars. We hosted seven free events in Durham, Atlanta, and Birmingham, paid dozens of local artists, performers, and speakers, costing over $13,000. For a small team of six, that ain't nothing to snuff at!

As a 501(c)3, we depend on individual donors and foundations to support our work. It is important that our communities see Scalawag as a valuable collaborator and comrade in the struggle for justice. Our goal by 2021 is for monthly gifts from members to cover 25 percent of our total operating budget. Joining Scalawag as a member makes that possible.

Until 2017, we did this work with less than $50,000 a year. The entire Scalawag team worked as volunteers, even as we have paid every writer and photographer. Our team is now beginning to be paid—even as we expand and many of us work on part-time basis. We work with partners of all kinds—journalists, community organizers, and national networks like the Institute for Nonprofit News and the Media Consortium.

Scalawag's impact is not only in its journalism. We believe that Scalawag can be a home that mentors and supports a new generation of Southern writers, editors, and nonprofit leaders committed to an equitable and just South. With support from members who give $5/mo and institutional support from places like the Membership Puzzle Project and the Lenfest Institute, we're growing Scalawag's impact—and punching above our weight.

Learn more about our donors and our commitment to transparency.

And you can meet our fabulous Board of Directors here.

You can mail inquiries, donations, or pitches to Scalawag, PO Box 129, Durham, NC 27702, or email us at team@scalawagmagazine.org.

Zaina Alsous

Zaina Alsous is a contributing editor for Scalawag focused on the "Arts and Soul" vertical and holds a MFA in poetry from the University of Miami. Born and raised by immigrants in North Carolina, most of her writing and community work focuses on labor, Arab diaspora, and decarceration.

Lovey Cooper

Lovey Cooper is a journalist from small-town North Carolina. She's Scalawag's Managing Editor and the voice behind This Week in the South.

Alysia Nicole Harris

Alysia Nicole Harris is a performance artist, poet, and linguist from Virginia, and holds a Ph. D. in linguistics from Yale University. Religion, travel and poetry make her heart flutter. She makes up part of Scalawag's Atlanta-based editorial crew serving as Scalawag's Arts and Soul editor and engagement lead.

Cierra Hinton

Cierra Hinton has an undying love and passion for the complicated South, which she brings to her work at Scalawag. She has found community across the South, including in Tennessee and Mississippi, but calls North Carolina home. She is Scalawag's Executive Director-Publisher.

Danielle Purifoy

Danielle Purifoy is a lawyer and professor at UNC-Chapel Hill and holds a Ph.D. from Duke University. She studies how structural racism creates environmental inequality in the South and brings these interests to her work as an editor for Scalawag. Danielle is Scalawag's Race and Place editor.

Katherine Webb-Hehn

Katherine Webb-Hehn is a mama, multi-media journalist and artist in Birmingham, Alabama. Katherine is Scalawag's State Politics editor.