LISTEN: Damon Young Breaks Down His New Collection of Essays

By Tiarra Mukherjee Mar 25, 2019

On Saturday (March 23), Damon Young, author of the new book “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker,” told NPR that he spent much of his life “waiting to be called a name I won’t call anyone and won’t repeat here.” He shared a time when his parents encountered the slur:


"My parents have this story about the time where they basically got into a race riot at this neighborhood deli in Pittsburgh, because the White boy behind the cash register called my mom and my grandmother niggers," he recalls. "Deli meats were thrown all over the place, windows were broken, olives were scattered, it was a mess. And so, this happened when I was maybe six or seven years old, and so my parents would tell this story at gatherings and at parties, and I wanted a story like that for myself, about a time where I was racially intimidated or that word was used against me, and I was able to defend myself…and the book deals with similar sorts of anxieties and similar sorts of absurdities that just spring from this entire ‘existing while Black’ experience.”

According to NPR, the essays are pointed, ruminative, often barbed and funny reflections on how racism has created particular lifelong challenges, questions and anxieties.

Listen to the interview here: