Mychal Denzel Smith

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Mychal Denzel Smith
Born (1986-11-06) November 6, 1986 (age 37)
Alma materHampton University
Notable workInvisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching
Stakes Is High

Mychal Denzel Smith (born November 6, 1986) is an American writer, television commentator and author of Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man's Education (2016) and Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream (2020). He is also a fellow at Type Media Center.

Early life[edit]

Smith graduated from Landstown High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia in 2004. He attended Hampton University, where he was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Script.[1]


The New York Times has called Smith "The Intellectual in Air Jordans."[2]

Smith's work has been published in a number of print and online publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, Complex, GQ, Guernica, Harper's, Paris Review, Buzzfeed, New York Times Book Review, Bleacher Report, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Pitchfork, LitHub, The Nation, MTV, Salon, Ebony, and more. He has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, Democracy NOW!, The Daily Show,[3] PBS Newshour,[4] NPR, Al Jazeera, and a number of other television and radio programs. He appears in and was a consulting producer for "Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story", the Paramount Network docuseries executive produced by Jay-Z.

Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching[edit]

Smith published Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man's Education in 2016 with Nation Books. In The New York Times, Walton Muyumba reviewed the book as "ambitious, ardent and timely."[5] Melissa Harris-Perry described his book as "affirming, necessary, even delightful, despite its brutality and angst"[6] and Buzzfeed called it a "superbly thoughtful memoir."[7] The Minneapolis Star-Tribune review stated: "Smith's debut defies categorization" but ultimately "is a philosophical work" that "challenges us to confront our legacies of racism, patriarchy, homophobia and violence."[8] The Chicago Tribune wrote: "It might be the first of its kind: a book that offers a comprehensive look into the genesis of black millennial lives through the eyes of a young black man," adding, "This is revolutionary."[9] The book became a New York Times best-seller.[10]

Stakes Is High[edit]

In 2020 Smith published a second book, Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream.[11]


In 2014[12] and 2016[13] he was named to The Root 100 list of most influential African-Americans. Brooklyn Magazine included him on its 2016 list of "100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture."[14] Smith was nominated for the National Association of Black Journalists award for commentary in 2014, and his book Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for "Outstanding Literary Work - Biography/Autobiography" in 2017.[15] His book Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream won the 2020 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Smith lives in Brooklyn.[2]


  1. ^ Christina, Sturdivant. "Page & Perspective: A Young Black Man's Education In The Age Of Obama". The DCist. Archived from the original on 22 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b Kurutz, Steven (4 May 2016). "The Intellectual in Air Jordans". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Smith, Mychal Denzel (11 August 2016). "How Black Men Learn to Behave in "Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching"". The Daily Show with Trevor Noah - Comedy Central. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  4. ^ "An author's aspirations in the time of Obama and Trayvon". PBS NewsHour. 5 September 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  5. ^ Muyumba, Walton (8 July 2016). "Mychal Denzel Smith Connects the Black Millennial Experience to the African-American Literary Tradition". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  6. ^ Harris-Perry, Melissa (6 February 2016). "What I'm Reading: Mychal Denzel Smith". Anna Julia Cooper Center.
  7. ^ Lee, Jarry (20 May 2016). "18 Incredible New Books You Need To Read This Summer". Buzzfeed. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  8. ^ Kleber-Diggs, Michael (24 June 2016). "REVIEW: 'Invisible Man,' by Mychal Denzel Smith". Star Tribune. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  9. ^ Jackson, Daren W. (7 July 2016). "Review: 'Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching' by Mychal Denzel Smith". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  10. ^ "Books | Best Sellers | Race and Civil Rights". The New York Times. August 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Debut novel 'Luster' wins $50,000 Kirkus prize". Miami Herald. 5 November 2020.
  12. ^ "The Root 100 – 2014". The Root. 1 January 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  13. ^ "The Root 100 – 2016". The Root. 27 September 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  14. ^ "The 100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture - Brooklyn Magazine". Brooklyn Magazine. 1 March 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  15. ^ McNary, Dave (13 December 2016). "'Birth of a Nation,' 'Moonlight' Score Six NAACP Image Award Nominations (Full List)". Variety. Retrieved 25 November 2017.

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