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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.” 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 both a celebration of the idiosyncrasies and distinctions of Blackness and a critique of white supremacy and how we define masculinity.
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 absurdities and anxieties of being Black 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: 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; provoking the angst that made him question if "being straight" was something he could practice and get better at, like a crossover dribble; and generating the surreal experience of watching his Pittsburgh neighborhood getrify from predominantly Black to "Portlandia . . . but with Pierogies." 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 both a celebration of the idiosyncrasies and distinctions of Blackness and a critique of white supremacy and how we define masculinity.
A beautiful celebratory tribute to the powers of one of our most undervalued skills — an ideal gift for the avid reader. ‘What you are doing right now is, cosmically speaking, against the odds.’ As young children, we are taught to read, but soon go on to forget just how miraculous a process it is, this turning of scratches and dots into understanding, unease and inspiration. Perhaps we need to stop and remember, stop and learn again how to read better. Damon Young shows us how to do exactly this, walking alongside some of the greatest readers who light a path for us — Borges, Plato, Woolf. Young reads passionately, selectively, surprisingly — from superhero noir to speculative realism, from Heidegger to Heinlein — and shows his reader how cultivating their inner critic can expand their own lives as well as the lives of those on the pages of the books they love.
LA Times winner for The Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose A New York Times bestseller A New York Times Editors' Choice A Featured Title in The New York Times Book Review's "Paperback Row" A Bustle "17 Books About Race Every White Person Should Read" "Essential reading."--Junot Diaz "Electric...so well reported, so plainly told and so evidently the work of a man who has not grown a callus on his heart."--Dwight Garner, New York Times, "A Top Ten Book of 2016" "I'd recommend everyone to read this book because it's not just statistics, it's not just the information, but it's the connective tissue that shows the human story behind it." -- Trevor Noah, The Daily Show A deeply reported book that brings alive the quest for justice in the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray, offering both unparalleled insight into the reality of police violence in America and an intimate, moving portrait of those working to end it Conducting hundreds of interviews during the course of over one year reporting on the ground, Washington Post writer Wesley Lowery traveled from Ferguson, Missouri, to Cleveland, Ohio; Charleston, South Carolina; and Baltimore, Maryland; and then back to Ferguson to uncover life inside the most heavily policed, if otherwise neglected, corners of America today. In an effort to grasp the magnitude of the repose to Michael Brown's death and understand the scale of the problem police violence represents, Lowery speaks to Brown's family and the families of other victims other victims' families as well as local activists. By posing the question, "What does the loss of any one life mean to the rest of the nation?" Lowery examines the cumulative effect of decades of racially biased policing in segregated neighborhoods with failing schools, crumbling infrastructure and too few jobs. Studded with moments of joy, and tragedy, They Can't Kill Us All offers a historically informed look at the standoff between the police and those they are sworn to protect, showing that civil unrest is just one tool of resistance in the broader struggle for justice. As Lowery brings vividly to life, the protests against police killings are also about the black community's long history on the receiving end of perceived and actual acts of injustice and discrimination. They Can't Kill Us All grapples with a persistent if also largely unexamined aspect of the otherwise transformative presidency of Barack Obama: the failure to deliver tangible security and opportunity to those Americans most in need of both.
Named a 2018 Notable Work of Nonfiction by The Washington Post NOW A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Winner, The 2018 Southern Book Prize NAMED A BEST/MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2018 BY: Chicago Tribune • Time • Publisher's Weekly A stunning follow up to New York Times bestseller Tears We Cannot Stop The Washington Post: "Passionately written." Chris Matthews, MSNBC: "A beautifully written book." Shaun King: “I kid you not–I think it’s the most important book I’ve read all year...” Harry Belafonte: “Dyson has finally written the book I always wanted to read...a tour de force.” Joy-Ann Reid: A work of searing prose and seminal brilliance... Dyson takes that once in a lifetime conversation between black excellence and pain and the white heroic narrative, and drives it right into the heart of our current politics and culture, leaving the reader reeling and reckoning." Robin D. G. Kelley: “Dyson masterfully refracts our present racial conflagration... he reminds us that Black artists and intellectuals bear an awesome responsibility to speak truth to power." President Barack Obama: "Everybody who speaks after Michael Eric Dyson pales in comparison.” In 2015 BLM activist Julius Jones confronted Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with an urgent query: “What in your heart has changed that’s going to change the direction of this country?” “I don’t believe you just change hearts,” she protested. “I believe you change laws.” The fraught conflict between conscience and politics – between morality and power – in addressing race hardly began with Clinton. An electrifying and traumatic encounter in the sixties crystallized these furious disputes. In 1963 Attorney General Robert Kennedy sought out James Baldwin to explain the rage that threatened to engulf black America. Baldwin brought along some friends, including playwright Lorraine Hansberry, psychologist Kenneth Clark, and a valiant activist, Jerome Smith. It was Smith’s relentless, unfiltered fury that set Kennedy on his heels, reducing him to sullen silence. Kennedy walked away from the nearly three-hour meeting angry – that the black folk assembled didn’t understand politics, and that they weren’t as easy to talk to as Martin Luther King. But especially that they were more interested in witness than policy. But Kennedy’s anger quickly gave way to empathy, especially for Smith. “I guess if I were in his shoes...I might feel differently about this country.” Kennedy set about changing policy – the meeting having transformed his thinking in fundamental ways. There was more: every big argument about race that persists to this day got a hearing in that room. Smith declaring that he’d never fight for his country given its racist tendencies, and Kennedy being appalled at such lack of patriotism, tracks the disdain for black dissent in our own time. His belief that black folk were ungrateful for the Kennedys’ efforts to make things better shows up in our day as the charge that black folk wallow in the politics of ingratitude and victimhood. The contributions of black queer folk to racial progress still cause a stir. BLM has been accused of harboring a covert queer agenda. The immigrant experience, like that of Kennedy – versus the racial experience of Baldwin – is a cudgel to excoriate black folk for lacking hustle and ingenuity. The questioning of whether folk who are interracially partnered can authentically communicate black interests persists. And we grapple still with the responsibility of black intellectuals and artists to bring about social change. What Truth Sounds Like exists at the tense intersection of the conflict between politics and prophecy – of whether we embrace political resolution or moral redemption to fix our fractured racial landscape. The future of race and democracy hang in the balance.
An award-winning journalist envisions the future of leadership, excellence, and prosperity in Black America with this "urgent and pathbreaking" work (Marc Lamont Hill). Hard-hitting, thought-provoking, and inspiring, Conversations in Black offers sage wisdom for navigating race in a radically divisive America and, with help from his mighty team of black intelligentsia, veteran journalist Ed Gordon creates hope and a timeless narrative on what the future of black leadership should look like and how we can get there. In Conversations in Black, Gordon brings together some of the most prominent voices in Black America today, including Stacey Abrams, Harry Belafonte, Charlamagne tha God, Michael Eric Dyson, Alicia Garza, Jemele Hill, Iyanla VanZant, Eric Holder, Killer Mike, Angela Rye, Al Sharpton, T.I., and Maxine Waters, and so many more to answer questions about vital topics affecting our nation today, such as: Will the black vote control the 2020 election? Do black lives really matter? After Obama's presidency, are black people better off? Are stereotypical images of people of color changing in Hollywood? How is "Black Girl Magic" changing the face of black America? We are bombarded with media, music, and social media messages that enforce stereotypes of people of color. In this groundbreaking book, Gordon sets out to clarify what black power and excellence really look like -- and shows everyone the way forward into a new age of prosperity and pride.
New York Times Bestseller Baratunde Thurston’s comedic memoir chronicles his coming-of-blackness and offers practical advice on everything from “How to Be the Black Friend” to “How to Be the (Next) Black President”. Have you ever been called “too black” or “not black enough”? Have you ever befriended or worked with a black person? Have you ever heard of black people? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book is for you. It is also for anyone who can read, possesses intelligence, loves to laugh, and has ever felt a distance between who they know themselves to be and what the world expects. Raised by a pro-black, Pan-Afrikan single mother during the crack years of 1980s Washington, DC, and educated at Sidwell Friends School and Harvard University, Baratunde Thurston has more than over thirty years' experience being black. Now, through stories of his politically inspired Nigerian name, the heroics of his hippie mother, the murder of his drug-abusing father, and other revelatory black details, he shares with readers of all colors his wisdom and expertise in how to be black. “As a black woman, this book helped me realize I’m actually a white man.”—Patton Oswalt
This celebration of Black resistance, from protests to art to sermons to joy, offers a blueprint for the fight for freedom and justice -- and ideas for how each of us can contribute Many of us are facing unprecedented attacks on our democracy, our privacy, and our hard-won civil rights. If you're Black in the US, this is not new. As Colorlines editors Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin show, Black Americans subvert and resist life-threatening forces as a matter of course. In these pages, leading organizers, artists, journalists, comedians, and filmmakers offer wisdom on how they fight White supremacy. It's a must-read for anyone new to resistance work, and for the next generation of leaders building a better future. Featuring contributions from: Ta-Nehisi Coates Tarana Burke Harry Belafonte adrienne maree brown Alicia Garza Patrisse Khan-Cullors Reverend Dr. Valerie Bridgeman Kiese Laymon Jamilah Lemieux Robin DG Kelley Damon Young Michael Arceneaux Hanif Abdurraqib Dr. Yaba Blay Diamond Stingily Amanda Seales Imani Perry Denene Millner Kierna Mayo John Jennings Dr. Joy Harden Bradford Tongo Eisen-Martin