Self-proclaimed “professional Black person” Damon Young stopped by the Belo Center Monday to talk about his work in writing provocative, humorous cultural critiques as well as his upcoming book.
Young co-founded the blog VerySmartBrothas and has written for publications such as GQ, The New York Times and The Washington Post. He said VSB’s content is more tongue-in-cheek and relatable than other publications.
“VSB is a culture blog that myself and my co-founder, Panama Jackson, started in 2008 to deal with race, culture and politics,” Young said. “We write about serious topics with a more absurdist bend to it.”
On VSB’s website, you will find headlines ranging from “What We Mean When We Call White People ‘Colonizers’” to “Why Do Some of You Suck So Much at Parking?” Young uses comedy in many of his writings and said it is effective even when delving into serious topics such as race.
“Humor is vital as a method of protest in activism,” Young said. “Being outraged is often the first response, but I think we can also see how silly racism can be and use that.”
Public relations senior Ricarsha Mobley said she was intrigued by a piece Young did on police brutality and wanted to hear him for herself.
“I saw an interview of him … and it was just really amazing,” Mobley said. “Sometimes, when you want to be a journalist, you can’t really express your personal views, but he’s doing both and I want to see how that works.”
Austin native Ralph Daniel also came to hear Young speak and said he enjoys his work.
“I am familiar with him from VerySmartBrothas, and I think he’s hilarious,” Daniel said. “If you enjoy something in written form, it is always good, in my opinion, to come and hear from the writer in real life.”
Young’s upcoming book will be a series of essays about his experience with racism. He said the title of the book is still being finalized, but he hinted at what it might be.
“The first tentative title was ‘N*gga Neurosis’ — a term I created about not realizing that a lot of things happening to you are because you are black,” Young said. “Y’all are actually the first ones to hear this, but the title we are possibly going with now is ‘What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker,’ which I’m actually liking better.”