Mychal Denzel Smith Connects the Black Millennial Experience to the African-American Literary Tradition
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Invisible Man, Got The Whole World Watching. A Young Black Man’s Education

BY   Walton Muyumba  |  PUBLICATION   The NY Times 

Since the late 18th century, black writers have been bearing witness to the plight of African-Americans, documenting their humanity and making imagined political communities whole. In his effort “to make the invisible men visible,” Mychal Denzel Smith connects the black millennial experience to this literary tradition in his first book, “Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching.” Blending memoir and cultural criticism, the book’s form allows Smith to narrate his coming-of-age while interrogating it at the same time. He wants to offer answers “for the martyrs and tokens, for the Trayvons that could have been and are still waiting.”

Smith, a contributing writer for The Nation, opens his memoir during the summer just before his freshman year at Hampton University, a historically black school. “My parents sent me to college to become a credit to my race,” Smith writes. “It was never said in those exact words, but the idea was planted early on that my life would be one where I would defy all of the stereotypes associated with being a black man.” He is now 29 years old, and his story traces the sociopolitical moment, from 2004 to the present.

Mychal Denzel Smith is the author of “Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching” (June 2016), a Knobler Fellow at The Nation Institute, and contributing writer for The Nation Magazine. His work has appeared in various publications, including The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Ebony, theGrio, and the Root. Smith has appeared as a commentator on MSNBC, CNN, BET, HuffPost Live, Al Jazeera America, NPR, BBC radio, and more radio and television outlets.
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