Blog/Review: How To Be Black by Baratunde Thurston

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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? 

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 30 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 listeners 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, author 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"."



(Synopsis from Goodreads)


I recently got an Audible account because when I was little I LOVED listening to audio books. Mainly because we traveled around a lot and I get sick in cars (BAD motion sickness I have) while reading. So, I would listen to SO many books on my cassette player that I would check out from the library. 

Now that I am the ripe age of 22 (*makes the older readers of this blog feel older than what they are*) I missed that experience of listening to books being read to me. 

When I got the account I, of course, had to pick out a book. There were soooo many decisions to make
and I fail at making them to pick just one with the free credit Audible gives you.

I was on the phone with the boyfriend and he recommended "How To Be Black" because the awesomely named author, Baratunde Thurston (yes that's his real name) was on the Nerdist podcast (if you don't know what that is click on the name and check it out!).

Now if you don't want to do the whole audio book experience with this one but I highly recommend to get it in this form, but it also comes in book form.

"How To Be Black" is essentailly exactly what it says, but it's very well mixed in with his own story of coming of age as one of the only black kids in a predominately white school and his life up to a certain point (which *being honest* I don't remember).

Aside from the memoir part the 'guidebook' is the most hilarious part of the whole book!

It basically opens up with a checklist with the things that make black people black, and according to that list I am the blackest of the black (even though I'm honestly really white...I mean if you look up the definition of a 'white girl' I'm there! Hai.). I also did go to high school where the white kids where the minority but it's all cool up in this hood, so there.

Anywho back to the book.

In addition to the list, there are just so many tidbits of hilarity it's hard to not laugh out loud  (LoL). The best part, and this is why it's better to get the audio book because you can hear these people, is the Black Panel.

The Black Panel is a group of people Thurston gathered to use as a kind of focus group to disprove or prove this long list of stereotypes and questions. It's composed of three black men, three black women, and not to make it wholly biased one white guy. This part is the best and really hard to describe how awesome it is.

If you go and get any form of this book it's NOT a disappointment. 







Baratunde Rafiq Thurston is an American comedian based in Boston and New York City. A politically-active, technology-loving comedian, he co-founded the black political blog, Jack and Jill Politics and serves as Director of Digital for "The Onion." Baratunde travels the world speaking and advising and performs standup regularly in NYC. He resides in Brooklyn, lives on Twitter and has over 30 years experience being black. 


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