- Damon Young was born in 1979 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Canisius College with an English degree, he taught high-school English and also served as an outreach coordinator at Duquesne University from 2007-10. Through his personal blog, which he had launched in 2003, Young connected in 2008 with blogger D. Marcellus Wright, whose nom de plume was Panama Jackson. Soon thereafter, the pair collaborated to create Very Smart […]
Damon Young was born in 1979 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Canisius College with an English degree, he taught high-school English and also served as an outreach coordinator at Duquesne University from 2007-10. Through his personal blog, which he had launched in 2003, Young connected in 2008 with blogger D. Marcellus Wright, whose nom de plume was Panama Jackson. Soon thereafter, the pair collaborated to create Very Smart Brothas (VSB), a blog focusing on the black American experience. Young serves as VSB’s editor-in-chief to this day. Moreover, he has been a contributing editor with Ebony magazine since 2012.
VSB inspired the creation of a 2013 television pilot and a self-published 2011 book titled Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm at Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime. It was at the book’s launch party that Damon Young and Panama Jackson, who already had been collaborating for three years on the VSB blog site, actually met in person for the first time.
Univision acquired VSB in 2017 and stocked it with a full staff of writers. That same year, the Harper-Collins publishing company signed Young to a contract that would have him write two books, the first of which would be a collection of his essays.
Young describes himself as “a professional Black person,” and a deep contempt for white people pervades much of his writing. He holds police officers in particularly low regard. For instance, in a September 2016 piece titled “The Wash, Rinse, and Repeat of Being Black In America Today,” Young laments that “nearly every day I’m met with another story of some Black person meeting their demise at the hands of law enforcement,” Young emphatically rejects the notion that “there are good police and bad police.” “I do not trust police officers,” he says. “Any of them…. Black bodies have been killed in every single possible way you can end up dead at the hands of police. Complying. Not complying. Running. Standing. Running away from. Walking towards.… Did any of them put themselves in position for some level of force to be used against them? Sure. But did they all deserve their day in court? Absolutely.” By Young’s telling: “A Black man without a gun is more scary to a white police officer than a white man with a gun trained on him. If that doesn’t speak directly to centuries of white oppression, I don’t know what does. White supremacy created a psychological monster that it has been using the police to destroy.”
Five days before the U.S. presidential election of November 2016, Young published an op-ed titled “I’m Voting For Hillary [Clinton] Because I Want [Donald] Trump Supporters To Lose Badly And Go And Fucking Die.” Articulating exactly what he wished for those who backed Trump’s campaign, Young wrote: “No nothing besides confusion, shame, and, if the confusion and the shame isn’t enough to convince them to at least consider not hating me and people who look like me and people who don’t look like them, death.” “Yes, you read that correctly,” Young continued. “I want these motherfuckers to lose. And if losing what might be the last winnable election for them in a millennia isn’t enough for them to move into the 21st century, I wouldn’t terribly mind if they withered the fuck away and died.”
On Election Night 2016, once it became clear that Mrs. Clinton had been defeated by Trump, Young began to write an article claiming that whites, being “so appalled and repelled by the presence of Blackness,” had voted for Trump in an effort to protect the particular “self-interest” that was “most important” to them – “the preservation of White supremacy.” “Retaining the value of a Whiteness they believed to be increasingly devalued superseded everything else,” Young elaborated. “Including their own livelihoods; their own physical and financial well-beings; their own Christianity … their own environment … their own rights; and their own lives.” Notably, Young blamed “ALL White people” (emphasis in original) for being “complicit” in this abomination, “even if they didn’t vote for Trump,” “because they obviously haven’t done enough to repudiate the [racist] mindsets existing in their families and amongst their friends [and] their co-workers and neighbors.” Whites “have shown us that nothing existing on Earth or Heaven or Hell matters more to them than being White and [enjoying] whichever privileges … existing as White in America provides,” said Young. “Whiteness is past an identity or status. It is their oxygen, their plasma, their connective tissue.”
In August 2017, Young published an article asserting that “polite white people who call for decorum instead of disruption” are “just as useless” as “tits on a bull,” because they “ultimately just get in the way” of activists who are engaged in the noble “battle” to “defeat bias and hate” and “white supremacy.”
When a video of a man rescuing a frightened rabbit from a raging fire in California went viral in December 2017, Young wrote: “I do know that whether it’s rabbits, cats, dogs, horses, cows, sloths, chickens, spiders, birds, elephants, penguins, polar bears, monkeys, whales, eels, elephants or velociraptors, the lives and well-being of animals seem to be considered—by many white Americans—much more precious and much more deserving of protection and care than the lives of black people.”
In February 2018, Young chronicled his “relentless” and “exhausting” “search for the perfect slur for white people,” and suggested that perhaps “colonizer” would be a fitting term, although “personally, I’ve always thought ‘mayonnaise boy’ had potential.” “’Cracker’ is perhaps the most famous [slur],” Young added, “as it’s been around so long that there are popular modifications to it, most notably ‘cracka’ and the sublime ‘cracka-ass cracka’.” “’Honky’,” on the other hand, “is corny and stupid,” said Young, “and ‘redneck’ and ‘white trash’ are both classist and allow white people to be intraracially classist.”
In February 2018 as well, Young wrote a piece titled “America Doesn’t Have a Gun Control Problem. We Have a White-People Problem.” “We (black people) are vastly outnumbered by [whites],” he stated. “They also own more land, earn and possess more money, and have all the guns. Most of the people making laws are white, as are most of the people enforcing them.” As a result, Young explained, “Our [blacks’] entire existence here is a continual assault on our bodies. But we are the ones perceived to be the threats. We are the ones they’re scared of. We are the ones who tell our children how to dress and how to wear their hair so they’re not thought of as threats to them…. We’re the ones whom trained officers with weapons and badges and handcuffs and legal justifications are so damn scared of that we’ve created entire curricula based on that fear, teaching ourselves what to do to seem less frightening to them.” “This fear,” Young concludes, “is why [whites are] so obsessed with arming themselves with multiple human killing machines. It’s why they fight against even the notion of incremental disarmament so vehemently. They are scared shitless of us. Of anyone who is not them. And this fear is why our shitty gun laws exist, and it’s why they will continue to.”
Further Reading: “Blogger Left Basketball Behind to Chronicle Black Experience in Pittsburgh” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4-29-2015); “Damon Young” (LinkedIn.com); “Very Smart Brotha” (Canisius.edu, 11-30-2017); “The Wash, Rinse, and Repeat of Being Black In America Today” (by Damon Young, 9-22-2016); “I’m Voting For Hillary Because I Want Trump Supporters To Lose Badly And Go And Fucking Die” (by Damon Young, 11-2-2016); “Very Smart Brothas Is the Blackest Thing That Ever Happened to the Internet” (Washington Post, 11-21-2016); “I Will Never Underestimate White People’s Need To Preserve Whiteness Again” (by Damon Young, 11-9-2016); “Polite White People Are Useless” (by Damon Young, 8-29-2017); “The Video of the Man Saving the Rabbit From the Fire Captures Everything Wrong With Whiteness in 30 Seconds” (by Damon Young, 12-11-2017); “Is ‘Colonizer’ the Best Word for Problematic White People Ever?” (by Damon Young, 2-27-2018); “America Doesn’t Have a Gun Control Problem. We Have a White-People Problem” (by Damon Young, 2-26-2018).