Damon Young is done explaining shit to white people.

“I feel like the ones who need to hear it aren’t listening,” says Young, the editor-in-chief of our colleagues Very Smart Brothas. His new memoir, What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker, is a testament to just how exhausting it is to be black in America.

The collection of essays covers more than 20 years of his life, including being a teen in Pittsburgh. “There might be certain terms, certain dialects, or certain colloquialisms that are unique to black Pittsburgh,” he says. “They’re inserted so I can tell my story the best way I possibly can.”


In the video above—that’s definitely not an explainer—Young talks about the power of language, breaks down the terms unique to his life, and shares why avoiding code-switching is a form of resistance.

Senior Producer: Jennifer Perry; Creative Producers: Santiago Garcia, Marvin Van Buren, Lisa Fischer

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