How to Be Black
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If You Don't Buy This Book, You're a Racist.
Have you ever been called "too black" or "not black enough"?
Have you ever befriended or worked with a black person?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book is for you.
Raised by a pro-black, Pan-Afrikan single mother during the crack years of 1980s Washington, DC, and educated at Sidwell Friends School and Harvard University, Baratunde Thurston has over thirty years' experience being black. Now, through stories of his politically inspired Nigerian name, the heroics of his hippie mother, the murder of his drug-abusing father, and other revelatory black details, he shares with readers of all colors his wisdom and expertise in how to be black.
Beyond memoir, this guidebook offers practical advice on everything from "How to Be The Black Friend" to "How to Be The (Next) Black President" to "How to Celebrate Black History Month."
To provide additional perspective, Baratunde assembled an award-winning Black Panel—three black women, three black men, and one white man (Christian Lander of Stuff White People Like)—and asked them such revealing questions as:
"When Did You First Realize You Were Black?"
"How Black Are You?"
"Can You Swim?"
The result is a humorous, intelligent, and audacious guide that challenges and satirizes the so-called experts, purists, and racists who purport to speak for all black people. With honest storytelling and biting wit, Baratunde plots a path not just to blackness, but one open to anyone interested in simply "how to be."
Publishers Weekly Review
© Publishers Weekly
I wrote this book, and it's awesome.
Truly this is the best book I've ever written. I was surprised to find out all the things I know and how well I expressed them. As the author, I can humbly and objectively say book is truly one for the ages. Everyone should buy several copies. Also, I'm black, y'all.
Fantastic "How To" Book
I've always concerned myself with being aware of race. I was taught as a child that everyone is the same, but we really aren't. I'm 6'5" and it is very unlikely that more than 1% of you are even within an inch of that height. I'm rather pale, being of an Irish, German, Scottish and northern Italian heritage. That makes me different from other folks. Oh sure, we all are human and have a soul and what not, but we are different creatures from different places and different backgrounds.
Apparently some folks concern themselves with either the color of their skin or the behaviors they exhibit. Sometimes they are told they aren't acting according to a stereotype or opinion held by the observer. This causes a divide for some and a source of angst for others.
So, when Baratunde Thurston asks himself and his panel of Blackness Experts "How Black Are You?", it is a fascinating topic. What does being Black mean to the observer? Do you define "Black" as "Poor Black Child" (thank you Steve Martin)? How about "Militant Urban Activist"? Is your definition based on watching The Wire or The Cosby Show? Listening to Oprah talk or Ice-T? Chuck D or KRS-1?
Reading this book should give you an insight into a singular black experience - as atypical as any other. It should let you better understand that "being Black" isn't about being a thug. Or talking a certain way. It is about being You - just able to dance better than most of your friends.
Tell me - who is more "Black" - Will Smith or Eminem?
Baratunde cheekily says: "if you don't buy this book, you're racist"
Wanna know How To Be Black? Get this book! I read a publisher's review copy and it's a laugh out loud riot. Part guide book, part serious memoir with plenty of comic relief, Baratunde briefs you on the ins and outs of growing up black in the same white, East Coast elite school that Obama's kids attend and offers tips on how to be a friend of the black community. This book turns racism upside down, backwards, slant ways and every other way.
If you haven't had the privilege of knowing and following the hyper-connected Baratunde on Twitter as I have since the early days, fret not. It's not too late to get to know him and come to appreciate his quick wit and astute observations of technology, culture, and blackness. Baratunde's position as director of digital at The Onion lends comedic credence to this fantastic book that helps white Americans get in touch with all things black, just in time for Black History Month.
NB: If you're white, it won't turn you black. If you're black, it might help you to understand the dynamic with non-blacks.