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What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker
What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays | Damon Young
19 posts | 9 read | 23 to read
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 For Damon Young, there is a particular neurosis to being black in America today. One where Did that happen because Im black? If this is happening because Im black, how am I supposed to reactas a professional black person? are questions that play on a loop in his mind, every day of every week. Combining a provocative sense of humor with an unapologetic look at race and racism, What Doesnt Kill You Makes You Blacker chronicles Youngs attempt to answer these questions, and explores how these queriesand the angsts and anxieties they induceboth create and constrict our ideas of blackness and what it means to be a man. From rejoicing over Barack Obamas election (and hoping he wouldnt get assassinated during his victory speech) to deconstructing the ethos of the black barbershop, from the alternative realities he invented to deal with economic anxiety to the ways he tried to grapple with the social issues that led to his mothers death, Young celebrates the idiosyncrasies of blackness while offering devastatingly funny and powerful critiques of racism and patriarchybalancing all of these race-related absurdities with his own anxieties about his place in the world. From one of the most respected up-and-coming cultural observers of our time, What Doesnt Kill You Makes You Blacker is a hilarious and honest debut about the search for authenticity in America.
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Megabooks
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I‘ve been meaning to read this essay collection, and I figured #nfnov was as good a time as any! Maybe another documentary, too, tonight. Thanks for running this @rsteve388 and @Clwojick

#newin #essaysareawesome

rsteve388 1 pt 1mo
83 likes3 stack adds1 comment
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JSW
Pickpick

I‘m so glad I read this. I appreciate the mind-twist of reading words from someone with such different experiences and identities than mine, yet someone whose thoughts and examinations of identity feel familiar to me.

Riveted_Reader_Melissa Sounds very interesting! Stacked! 3mo
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AMVP
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Against my better judgement, I'm giving this #24in48 thing a shot. Got my first hour logged reading a couple of chapters of Young. Think I'll go to sleep now and pick it back up in the morning.

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Hooked_on_books
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Pickpick

Damon Young‘s memoir in essays works more or less chronologically through his life while incorporating themes of poverty, race, and racism. He also writes with terrific good humor which may have caused me to snort in places. This is a great read. #botm

cathysaid Your dog matches your book title 👏 Now that‘s some staging! 5mo
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Hooked_on_books
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I never knew I would read such a fabulous description of a bad buffet. 😂

Zelma Well, it certainly is vivid! 🤢 5mo
LeahBergen 😆😆😆 5mo
36 likes2 comments
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Emilymdxn
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Pickpick

Fascinating, hilarious, harrowing, and made me very uncomfortable as I‘d hope it would. Always really good for me to read books Very Much not written with white readers in mind and spending time inside this guy‘s head was a great experience. He combined heartbreaking stuff about his mums lost battle with cancer and his relationship with her with laugh out loud funny stuff about his attempts to make girls like him at college, I loved every minute.

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Hooked_on_books
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Damon just referred to Trump as “the world‘s rapiest vat of Cheez Wiz.” I think he‘s my new favorite person.

👏🏼🙌🏼👍🏼😆

Samplergal 😂😂😂 6mo
DGRachel Perfect description! 6mo
Christine Ewww! But yes. 🤣 6mo
Tamra Bah! 6mo
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Hooked_on_books
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This book is really good.

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suzisteffen
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Pickpick

There are some FANTASTIC sections of this book. Chapter three about “Love & Basketball” & his own sad-ass poetry days; the chapter about his mother dying too young; the final chapter about his daughter. Some fantastic writing. The chapter about his ill-advised post blaming women for their own rapes shows that he hasn‘t QUITE figured that out yet, which, bummer, but everything else is good to great. #essays #memoir 4⭐️

suzisteffen 📸 is a still from “Love & Basketball” 7mo
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suzisteffen
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“She will be taught that while Black people have been victims of oppression, subjugation, bias, and hate—and while we‘ve faced those things, in various forms and in various measures of intensity for the duration of the hundreds of years we‘ve been in America—blackness itself is not the problem. Her blackness is not a problem. It‘s not her skin. It‘s not her hair. It‘s not the way she looks. It‘s not the way she talks.”
I teared right up. YES.

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suzisteffen
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Wow, this essay - the fourteenth essay or chapter in this book - is incredibly painful.
“I think about how Mom might still be here if she‘d decided to stop smoking after twenty years instead of thirty. I wonder if the stress and pressure from existing as our family‘s only stable income for a decade permeated, consumed, and overwhelmed her, and I think about whether that drove her to smoke for thirty years instead of twenty. ⬇️

suzisteffen ... I think about how she fed me with her body, and how I ate from and off of her like she was a transubstantiating deity instead of a person, a flesh and vessel and marrow and blood human being. I think about how she had the world‘s fluffiest Afro in the seventies and the world‘s juiciest Jheri curl in the eighties and loved Michelle Obama and Tina Turner and reading Toni Morrison and listening to Steely Dan and Jill Scott and Ivan Lins ⬇️ 7mo
suzisteffen ... and going to shows at the Manchester Craftsmen‘s Guild when Pat Metheny was in town. I think about how she just gave gave gave gave gave gave gave because life took took took took took took took. I think about how I took took took took took from her.” 💔😭😭😭😭 7mo
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suzisteffen
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“We don‘t *hate* hate white people. We watch *Game of Thrones*.” 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 #real #essays

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suzisteffen
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“The farce and the tragedy of how obsessed we — the black men and boys who considered ourselves to be straight and wanted said straightness to be conspicuous and foolproof — were with what it‘s supposed to mean to be a straight man enabled a creeping and indiscriminate dehumanization of ourselves that swaddled and permeated us. It lived in the words we said (and currently say), the musk we listened to (and currently listen to), and the way we ⬇️

suzisteffen thought about ourselves and women and our relationships with ourselves and women. We were, and still are, soaked in it. We marinate in it and or pickled by it. It brutalizes us. And that brutalization brittles and breaks us. We spent, and still spend, so much effort, so much time, so many resources, trying to match or maybe just perform the hyper-rigid heterosexuality we were socialized to aspire to, for fear of being seen as soft.” 7mo
suzisteffen SHIIIT this one is as serious and smart and the essay just before it is funny. 7mo
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suzisteffen
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Oh my god, the third essay - “Bomb-Ass Poetry” has me laughing so hard and with such agonized sympathy for everyone involved that I can hardly stand it. One sentence: “My poems vacillated from strained militancy and artificially extraneous pro-blackness to ballads of barely concealed desperation either enunciating the extravagant and ethereal sex I wasn‘t actually having or convincing women to drink almond milk.” 😂😂😂 DED. #BlameLoveJones

suzisteffen This essay is just ... I ... LMAO LMAO LMAO. So good: “Telling people you wanted to be a ballplayer or a rapper was essentially broadcasting that your parents failed at raising you and the only possible remedy was being duct-taped to a couch and forced to watch season two through five of *A Different World*.” 7mo
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suzisteffen
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My first #essays read for May. Love this man‘s writing (he‘s the editor of Very Smart Brothas) & am REALLY looking forward to this book. My way is to read one essay each day and just be consistent about it.

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AMVP
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The #keepit podcast is always a good source for reading material. Check out the Apr. 3rd episode for their interview with Damon Young.

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catiewithac
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Pickpick

This was a #botm extra that I picked last month. I was not familiar with Damon Young or Very Smart Brothas but I enjoy biographical essays. So this was a hit for me! I think Young could edit some of his very long paragraphs, but overall this is a good read. I found Young‘s generalized anxiety relatable. I, too, was scared of white people after the 2016 election (I‘m white but LBGT)! Young is funny, smart, and over-sensitive; it‘s a great combo!

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balletbookworm
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Pickpick

Young uses the form of the essay to both tell his own story of growing up black in Pittsburgh AND write about the culture around him. He has a sharp turn of phrase and a dry humor that I really enjoyed. There is a lot to think about here, from ripping culture, to masculinity, to use of the N word in black culture, to his lack of an driver‘s license and how that impacts employment, to his new identity as a parent.

balletbookworm I really appreciated how he constructed the chapter about his mother‘s illness and death then comments on how the white medical establishment views black women‘s pain and bodies; very well-crafted. 9mo
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8little_paws
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Help! I'm split between these 2 add on books. I don't want to add on 2, just one. I picked Lot as my main selection. #botm

lele1432 I picked Queenie and I'm torn between these exact same two lol!! I really don't need to add on two...😫 10mo
45 likes2 comments