With the exception of his essay in The Fire This Time, I had yet to really sit down and read Kiese Laymon’s writing, until now. Halfway through the essays in How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, I paused to head over to Goodreads and add his entire backlist to my to-be-read list.
Laymon’s writing is so commanding. Even when talking about sports (something I don’t care much about), I had trouble putting this book down because, in Laymon’s hands, the essay is never about “just sports”—or “just” anything. He digs in far beyond the surface and creates connections people often miss (due to privilege, lack of interest, white supremacy, or any number of reasons).
I highlighted so much in this book, but I don’t have anything coherent to say about those highlights just yet. A few moments in particular:
- the phrase “the politics of American dreaming”
- describing Black boys as “being born on parole” and “growing up on parole”
- symbolic change and empty gestures versus real solutions and tangible change, and how this is connected to white supremacy/savior complexes
I have a lot of thinking to do, and that’s something I’m thankful for. The way Laymon sees others, and the way he reflects inwardly, is powerful stuff. I strive to be that perceptive and honest with myself.