We Can Be podcast - The Heinz Endowments

Very Smart Brothas’ Damon Young: the hyper-cognizance & beauty of being black in America S2E04

April 17, 2019

With over 2.5 million weekly “Very Smart Brothas” readers, a GQ column and new Harper Collins book “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker,” Damon Young is artfully illuminating life as a black man in 21st century America.


“So many of the narratives about being black in America are ensconced in deep trauma,” says Damon. “And yes, we do deal with racism, oppression and structural inequality, but I hope my writing shares that there is also beauty, love, passion, and humanity in that experience, too.”


Damon shares his take on the role white privilege played in the killing of 17 year-old unarmed black teenager Antwon Rose II by a white former East Pittsburgh police officer, the conversation about homophobia he hopes is sparked by a chapter in his new book, and how systemic inequality has led him to experience the “hyper-cognizance” of his blackness.


Damon talks with host Grant Oliphant about why Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix comedy special “Nanette” is definitely in his “love” column, and whether having an infant son really means that he can “finally start respecting men as people.”


His writing is a seamless weaving of intelligence, humor and heartfelt empathy, not unlike the man himself. Experience the full spectrum of writer Damon Young on this episode of “We Can Be.”



“We Can Be” is hosted by The Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments and Treehouse Media. Theme and incidental music by Josh Slifkin. Guest image by Josh Franzos. This episode contains adult language.