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What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker

A Memoir in Essays
Narrated by: Damon Young
Length: 8 hrs and 11 mins

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Publisher's Summary

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

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, 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.”  

At its most devastating, it provides him reason to believe 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.

©2019 Damon Young (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • netusera
  • 13-04-2019

Reviewed by a B![c# @$$ White Boy

I am not a woke or down a$$ white boy but I love this book. I laughed, cried, argued, and sat ashamed and awed. A must listen or read for everyone in America.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-03-2019

Thank you, Mr. Young

So grateful for your ability and willingness to use your platform to represent the voice of the 30 something year old, college educated, hoopin *ss, praying, husband of a Black woman, father of a Black daughter (& recently a Black son), professional, who happens to be “decent,” Black man who spends a great deal of his time navigating white supremacy and being confronted with “integrity” or “sanity,” to write a book that validates the experience that comes with all of those things. (Right fist double pound the spot on my chest near my heart). Keep shining!

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  • Brent Lewis
  • 31-07-2019

If there is one book you need, this is It!

I don’t think a book has made me laugh out loud, cry, give a “poetry snap”, ponder my existence, make me feel seen and related too more than this book. I have chapters broken out for required listening in general and certain ones for moments in like where I just can’t fully find the words/comfortable to explain something about the Black experience. I’m already like “Just go listen to chapter 7 and then we can talk.” I think Damon’s writing style and performance was brilliant. This is a must grab and goes on my must read list for every Black person right next to “Between the World and Me.”

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  • Tami Dean
  • 24-06-2019

Insightful and and familiar...

Great listen. His real world telling if his-story was really good. Loved the essay style and personal perspectives. It also good to hear the numerous topics covered.

Bravo

WARNING...”N” word heavy. But I get it.

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  • Big Ruck
  • 16-07-2019

The way we all think

Damon Young hit on what we all think as we get older and just deal with life. And as a black man I struggle with telling my kids they can be what they want be still be careful when you get pulled over because you can be shot because of your color but life goes on.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Melissa
  • 29-06-2019

Hilarious and brilliant

This is the only biography I’ve ever read and will likely ever read because Damon’s stories, perspectives, and honesty stand out as brilliant, hilarious and eye opening. I read this because I met Damon years ago through my ex when they were working at Duquesne. And because since then I’ve read some of his writing. He’s memorable and his story - and storytelling - are too. Hopefully in the future, this will go into the library of congress for safe-keeping.

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  • Ampaire Christine
  • 26-06-2019

what a great read

funny, poignant and highly introspective. highly recommend this book and how accessible it is .

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  • Lindsey Jefferies
  • 06-06-2019

This made my heart smile !

This opened my eyes to the inside scoop of a black man! It made me laugh and delve into introspection at the same time! As a black woman, I can relate to the double lives lived in the white community and black community and this this spoke to a lot of the internal thoughts and feelings I’ve encountered throughout my life! Literary genius!

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  • Diamonte
  • 29-03-2019

One of the best books I've read.

This is a seminal work that should be added to the canon of work describing what it means to be Black in America alongside Wright, hooks, Coates and Obama. For a Black Pittsburgher, it's a coup de gras that epitomizes what we feel, but cannot articulate. Damon did it for us.

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  • Autumn Bose
  • 11-07-2019

This made me so nostalgic

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh just like the author and grew up dealing with some of the same issues he dealt with as well. It was a healing balm to read it specifically coming from his perspective.
Growing up in Pittsburgh/Penn Hills in the 80’s and 90’s was such an eclectic mix of Afrocentrism, racism, love, hate and good food. Damon did a good job bringing that all together in his book. I now have my husband, brothers and father eager to read it.
This is a must read for the summer and beyond. This book is a testament that being is the optimum goal for success.
And Damon thanks for clearing up the changes in Pittsburgh. I never figured out how Peabody became Obama High.

2 people found this helpful