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What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker


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About the Author

Damon Young is a co-founder and editor in chief of VerySmartBrothas, a columnist for, a contributing editor and columnist for EBONY Magazine, a columnist for The Root, and a founding editor of 1839. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, Al-Jazeera, Slate, Salon, The Guardian, New York Magazine, Jezebel, Complex, Essence Magazine, USA Today, and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Based in Pittsburgh, he's also a member of ACLU Pennsylvania's State Board.


"His essays are pointed, ruminative, often barbed and funny reflections on how the fact of his skin color has posed particular lifelong challenges, questions, and anxieties." -- "Weekend Edition," NPR
"With candor, self-awareness and considerable humor, [Young] turns an unflinching eye on both himself and an American society constructed and sustained by racism." -- Washington Post
"The cofounder and senior editor for The Root has already established himself as one of our most vibrant voices on race. Now comes his first book, a blazing memoir in essays." -- Entertainment Weekly, "20 Great New Books to Read this March"
"One of the freshest, most important black voices on the internet." -- Mother Jones
"Authentic, keen, and touching . . . The beauty of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker is that Young never tries to make it easy for readers. . . this timely and powerful book. . . like the work of bell hooks and Roxane Gay, should be required reading." -- NPR
"A fascinating exploration of how race, class and gender, inform notions of black identity in American life [and] an astute critique of the contours along which black people survive the limitations of historic and systemic racism . . . language is itself a central character." -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Readers who know Young's work from the blog he co-founded, Very Smart Brothas, will recognize his voice, his fondness for lists, his precise, comprehensive and spectacular references to pop culture, his wit and his keen mind." -- Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Fans of Young's posts on VSB will recognize the wit, but these essays dig deeper than his typical blog posts. Here, you see his vulnerability and insecurities." -- Pittsburgh City Paper
"Brave, incisive and witty. . . an essential American voice . . . Young is . . . the American writer who could bridge our racial divide . . . Sometimes as profanely magnificent as a Richard Pryor routine, but just as often droll in the vein of David Sedaris." -- Pittsburg Quarterly
"With this absurdly trenchant, bouncy, tragicomic, expansive yet intimate book, Damon somehow, someway, made the page bend around my head and heart in a manner I honestly didn't think the essay or memoir forms were capable of bending." -- Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
"In this funny, illuminating and occasionally gutting book, Damon Young wrestles with his own masculinity, fears and lies, all while remaining unrelenting in his determination to learn and teach something valuable about blackness in America. He more than succeeds, in a volume that is a pleasure and an education." -- Rebecca Traister, author of Good and Mad
"Striking in its storytelling and imagery, in its honesty and humor, in its self-reflection and self-criticism, in its Blackness and humanity. Damon Young produced an unobstructed and unsanitized memoir that few people have the courage to write and all people should be encouraged to read." -- Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning author Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
"A passionate, wryly bittersweet tribute to black life...sharply observed...A must read." -- Booklist (starred review)
"Darkly hilarious . . . Young's charm and wit make these essays a pleasure to read; his candid approach makes them memorable." -- Publishers Weekly
"Acid-etched insight." -- Library Journal
"Damon Young is one of the most fearless and important young writers today. A devastatingly funny critique of racism, What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker is a humorous and deep dive into the culture and a life lived in that precarious state we call blackness." -- Michael Eric Dyson, author of What Truth Sounds Like

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