What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker

A Memoir in Essays by Damon Young

This provocative and humorous book explores the ever-shifting definitions of what it means to be black (and male) in America. For Damon Young, the cofounder of VerySmartBrothas.com and one of the most read writers on race and culture at work today, 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: 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 get better at; 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, 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 a celebration of the idiosyncrasies and distinctions of blackness, a critique of white supremacy, and a look at how we define masculinity.

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