Writer Damon Young On Being Black And The Absurdity Of It All Damon Young, co-founder of VerySmartBrothas.com, says the most inspiring thing about his hometown of Pittsburgh is that it's predominantly white. "Pittsburgh is a jar of mayonnaise," he told us.

We talked with him about adolescence, politics, parenthood and why he still calls Pittsburgh home.

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Writer Damon Young On Being Black And The Absurdity Of It All

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Writer Damon Young On Being Black And The Absurdity Of It All

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Writer Damon Young On Being Black And The Absurdity Of It All

Writer Damon Young On Being Black And The Absurdity Of It All

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/709967785/709976970" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Writer Damon Young SARAH HUNY YOUNG hide caption

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SARAH HUNY YOUNG

Writer Damon Young

SARAH HUNY YOUNG

For Damon Young, it all started with a blog.

He told us he got his start as a writer after co-creating Very Smart Brothas, which is full of "very punchy, very aggressive, very irreverent takes on pop culture, on politics, on race."

The blog exploded, and so did its fan base. Eventually, it was acquired by Univision and Young began writing full-time — first for Ebony, then GQ.

He's now out with a book called What Doesn't Kill Us Make Us Blacker: A Memoir In Essays. It's a reflection on Pittsburgh, politics, parenthood and what Young calls the "absurdity of being black."

He told us the most inspiring thing about his hometown is that it's "so white. So white, demographically. And it's not just a demographic whiteness. It's an atmospheric... it's a spiritual whiteness. Pittsburgh is a jar of mayonnaise."

Here's what else he said:

In order to have any sort of sanity as a black person in Pittsburgh, you have to be very intentional. You have to intentionally seek out community. You have to intentionally seek out spaces that are comfortable, that are welcoming. And I think that intentionality just bleeds into the work of people who are from Pittsburgh. It's not a place where you could just laze into blackness. You have to be hyper-cognizant of it. And that hyper-cognizance, I think, is reflected in August Wilson's work, in John Edgar Wideman's work, in hopefully my work, too.

We talked with Young about his adolescence, work and why he still calls Pittsburgh home.