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How to Be Black

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


The Onion’s Baratunde Thurston shares his 30-plus years of expertise in being black, with helpful essays like “How to Be the Black Friend,” “How to Speak for All Black People,” “How To Celebrate Black History Month,” and more, in this satirical guide to race issues—written for black people and those who love them. Audacious, cunning, and razor-sharp, How to Be Black exposes the mass-media’s insidiously racist, monochromatic portrayal of black culture’s richness and variety. Fans of Stuff White People Like, This Week in Blackness, and Ending Racism in About an Hour will be captivated, uplifted, incensed, and inspired by this hilarious and powerful attack on America’s blacklisting of black culture: Baratunde Thurston’s How to Be Black.

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 23, 2012 – In this hilarious blend of razor-sharp satire and memoir, Onion editor and cofounder of the Jack & Jill Politics blog Thurston muses on how, generally, to be black in today’s ever-changing world. He’s quick to point out that his book is not a magic potion that will make readers instantly black (it is not How to Become a Black Person If You Are Not Already Black). Instructive chapters include “How to Be The Black Friend” and its corollaries, “How to Speak for All Black People” and “How to Be The Black Employee.” Thurston’s life was shaped by his mother, a force of nature who instilled in him a love of camping and bicycling, along with a fiercely radical spirit. As a teen, he participated in the Ankobia program in D.C. taught by Pan-African black American activists. This same woman also enrolled him in the prestigious Sidwell Friends school (home to Chelsea Clinton and President Obama’s daughters) and cheered at his Harvard graduation. In order to get a fuller picture of blackness in America today, Thurston assembles “The Black Panel,” consisting of artists and stand-up comedians who address race in their work. Questions he poses to panel include when the members first realized they were black (most were very young), if they ever wished not to black (very few did), and what they thought of the idea of “post-racial America.” Using his own story and humor, Thurston demonstrates that the best way to “be” anything is to simply be yourself.

Customer Reviews

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.

How to Be Black
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  • $14.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Humor
  • Published: Jan 31, 2012
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Seller: HarperCollins
  • Print Length: 272 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings