28 Days of Literary Blackness with VSB, Day 28: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker by Damon Young

Illustration for article titled 28 Days of Literary Blackness with VSB, Day 28: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker by Damon Young
Image: What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker (Harper Collins)

Publisher Synopsis: 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.

There will be more to come on riding shotgun (in a writerly fashion) for Damon’s book journey from inception to what will be completion when the book officially releases on March 26, so I’ll focus on the book itself. Order it, cop it, enjoy it. It’s Damon going for broke and getting detailed on shit I didn’t even know until I read parts of the book as he finished them, but written like only Damon can write. And it’s Damon at his best for a whole ass book’s worth of material.

Seriously, I’ve known Damon for, say, almost 15 years now, and 11 of them have been in a business-partner capacity. Damon is easily one of my best friends in life and one of the people I literally talk to just about every single day of the year, yet I managed to learn things about him. Mixed with his wit and dark ass humor alongside a penchant for societal critique, especially as a black man, you get a book that’s heavy and amusing, even when it probably shouldn’t be.

When I set out to do this series, this 28 Days of Literary Blackness with VSB series, the only two books I was definitely sure were going to be on it were Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Damon’s What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker. In Damon’s case, it wasn’t just because I know him personally and he’s my partner with VSB; it was because his book is good enough to be part of a series where I’m suggesting books. The book won’t kill you, but it just might make you blacker.


Clap for him.

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker (2019) by Damon Young (Pre-Order)

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.



I started reading VSB after my sister posted some random thing on Facebook what seems like a decade ago. The joy that it has brought me is immeasurable. Panama, you are my hero even though you are lightskint and own a Chris Duhon Jersey. Damon reassures me that I am not crazy, or at least I’m not the only one. There will be a copy for me and a copy for my sister.