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The Language of Self-Actualization in How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America

In “You Are the Second Person,” the penultimate essay in the collection How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, Kiese Laymon masterfully uses language to portray a journey of finding himself. The essay begins with the phrase: “You know that any resemblance to real places, spaces, people, time, or things is purely coincidental.” Already, this essay has established that it is written in the second person, setting itself apart from every other essay in the collection written in the first person. This particular essay focuses on Laymon’s struggles with publishers and the concept of being a “real” black writer. Laymon…