From the cofounder of VerySmartBrothas.com, and one of the most read writers on race and culture at work today, a provocative and humorous memoir-in-essays that explores the ever-shifting definitions of what it means to be Black (and male) in America.
WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU BLACKER:
A Memoir in Essays
by Damon Young
Ecco/HarperCollins, March 2019
For Damon Young, existing while Black is an extreme sport. The act of possessing black skin while searching for space to breathe in America is enough to induce a ceaseless state of angst where questions such as “How should I react here, as a professional black person?” and “Will this white person’s potato salad kill me?” are forever relevant. WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU BLACKER chronicles Young’s efforts to survive while battling and making sense of the various neuroses his country has given him. It’s a condition that’s sometimes stretched to absurd limits, provoking the angst that made him question if he was any good at the “being straight” thing, as if his sexual orientation was something he could practice and get better at, like a crossover dribble move or knitting; creating the farce where, as a teen, he wished for a white person to call him a racial slur just so he could fight him and have a great story about it; and generating the surreality of watching gentrification transform his Pittsburgh neighborhood from predominantly Black to “Portlandia . . . but with Pierogies.” And, at its most devastating, it provides him reason to believe that his mother would be alive today if she were white. From one of our most respected cultural observers, WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU BLACKER is a hilarious and honest debut that is both a celebration of the idiosyncrasies and distinctions of Blackness and a critique of white supremacy and how we define masculinity.
• A Finalist for the NAACP Image Award
• Longlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay
• An NPR Best Book of the Year
• A Washington Independent Review of Books Favorite of the Year
Damon Young is a co-founder and editor in chief of VerySmartBrothas—coined « the blackest thing that ever happened to the internet » by The Washington Post and recently acquired by Univision and Gizmodo Media Group to be a vertical of The Root—and a columnist for GQ. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, LitHub, Time Magazine, Slate, LongReads, Salon, The Guardian, New York Magazine, EBONY, Jezebel, and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Based in Pittsburgh, he’s also a member of ACLU Pennsylvania’s State Board.