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How to Be Black | [Baratunde Thurston]

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". This 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".
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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Nominee, Narration by the Author or Authors, 2013

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".

©2012 Baratunde Thurston (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (487 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Teddy Bronx, NY, United States 02-15-12
    Teddy Bronx, NY, United States 02-15-12

    "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one." - Jojen Reed. #ADanceWithDragons

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    "Funny yet insightful!"

    Of course the title catches your attention (especially if your black) and the reviews of the book made it a must listen for me. I was listening "A Dance With Dragons" and the mere fact I could take a break from that book to complete this one speaks highly of it!

    I love self narrated titles of this particular genre. The author/narrator brings across a light and funny feel for the book even though it does contain some very serious and poignant facts. Satire, irony and general comedic enjoyment is rampant in this title and you will actually find yourself saying your name at the end of the book as the narrator instructed. I particular like the chapter about 'Being the Black Employee" and "How to be an Angry Black Person". He made an EXCELLENT decision in incorporating the likes of Damali Ayo, Christian Lander and Jacquetta Szathmari for added perspective on various topics.

    This book is not all about the laughs though, even through the laughs you learn (which is the best way to learn) and gives some semblance of guidance to simply survive in Black America. It is an interesting perspective to view as someone who grows up in a country (Jamaica) where everyone is black... Gives me a bit more insight on how being Black in America is to an extent.

    30 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pierre Canada 02-14-12
    Pierre Canada 02-14-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Satire to End Racism"
    What made the experience of listening to How to Be Black the most enjoyable?

    Having the novel read by its author with his charismatic personality and comedic timing made for a very amusing stand-up routine type performance.


    What did you like best about this story?

    One of Thurston's panel of experts commented that satire is essential for addressing sensitive racial issues. This is one of the most important truths that this book reveals. We need to be talking about the discrimination and the stereotyping that is happening to this day. We need to stop rating members of the African American community with scales of blackness. A member of the community should not be looked down upon for befriending other races. The dream that Dr. King had for us is that we could live in a world where we are colorblind. We need to allow all races to pursue happiness in any way they see fit and not tell them what pursuits they should have. Thurston's satire is an effective deliverer of this powerful message.


    Which character – as performed by Baratunde Thurston – was your favorite?

    Baratunde Thurston


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    How to be Black: Satire to End Racism


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MsThang Hamilton, ON, Canada 02-11-12
    MsThang Hamilton, ON, Canada 02-11-12 Member Since 2010

    Huge Audiobook Fan

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    "Delicious"
    What did you love best about How to Be Black?

    It funny and Honest


    What about Baratunde Thurston’s performance did you like?

    How he used humor to tell a real story.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    I loved listening to this book because it spoke to parts of my own experience, but also was honest underneath the funny.
    Plus, it made me look forward to my 2 hour commute... Magical.

    Get your copy today!!! Hurry!!!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregory San Francisco, CA, United States 02-04-12
    Gregory San Francisco, CA, United States 02-04-12 Member Since 2011
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    "How to Be Free"

    Just as there is no one way to describe blackness, there is not one way to describe this book. I laughed, I learned, I saw myself, I saw others, I was horrified and I was inspired. The closest one word description I can come up with is liberating. I highly recommend the audio version. Baratunde's command of pace, and his spot-on comedic timing allow him to delivery serious messages along with side splitting laughs.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James West Lafayette, IN, United States 02-02-12
    James West Lafayette, IN, United States 02-02-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Excellent performance by the author"
    Would you listen to How to Be Black again? Why?

    Wanna know How To Be Black? Listen to Baratunde Thurston's hilarious book! I read a publisher's review copy and it's a laugh out loud riot. 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. I enjoyed the review copy so much, I just had to support the author by purchasing the audio version. Besides, Baratunde is a smart and eloquent speaker and the audiobook format is a no-brainer for consuming this memoir.

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The guidebook style format intermingled with anecdotes of the author's life gives a sneak peek into his life and the


    Have you listened to any of Baratunde Thurston’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    N/A


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    If you don't watch this film, your're a racist.


    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Sidney, NE, United States 05-02-12
    Amazon Customer Sidney, NE, United States 05-02-12 Member Since 2005

    Avid listener of business and technology books.. a.k.a. C0ffeeD00d

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    "I am now black!!!"
    Would you listen to How to Be Black again? Why?

    I love it when the author can read his or her own work. Baratunde does a great job of both reading his work as well as present a very volatile subject in a way that even an old white guy like me is both educated without being offended and entertained while gaining a deeper appreciation for the topic.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Wethersfield, CT, United States 02-01-12
    James Wethersfield, CT, United States 02-01-12 Member Since 2007
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    "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?

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harvey 05-21-12
    Harvey 05-21-12 Member Since 2002
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    "How to be whether you are Black or White"
    What made the experience of listening to How to Be Black the most enjoyable?

    Baratunde is smart, thought provoking, and yet mixes his keen insight with humor.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of How to Be Black?

    Love the Black Panel and the solutions to vexing problems encountered by Black People working, learning and living in a majority society. Baratunde's story is one that can resonate with all people and helped to form his ideas and his unabashed spirit. Being aware of the reality that we can do anything while frightening to some is soothing to me as a parent of young Black men that are being educated to take on the broader world.


    What does Baratunde Thurston bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

    Intellect, Wit, and a clear voice that can guide Black people both young and old. Also a great read if you are not Black but want to be relevant in today's society.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    If possible I would have said yes. However, this is a book that I later purchased for my iPad Kindle app after listening to the audio. It is really that good.


    Any additional comments?

    Buy this book so that at least you can act like you know.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aurora United States 03-20-12
    Aurora United States 03-20-12 Member Since 2012
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    "A Comic View of Life, Culture, and Difference"

    You can't read this book and not learn something. Baratunde Thurston informs his non-Black reader that Black people are not all alike. Thurston also advises his Black reader how to best portray some of the country's best (worst) Black stereotypes, and then helps his ____ (fill in blank with the appropriate race/ethnicity) how to distinguish them.

    Thurston's book is a mixture of autobiography, cultural observation and criticism, and comedy. While the title may scare off both racists and people who don't know that the book is supposed to be funny, the book is for everyone with a sense of humor who isn't afraid of the discussion of race from the distinctive perspectives of his Black panel and the one White Canadian guest on that panel. I emphasize that this is Thurston's experience and the description of "blackness" from the perspective of the individuals that make up his panel because what I believe we are supposed to get from this book, all of us, is that our ethnicity/skin color/ race does not determine who we are as individuals. This is a book for Black people who may be afraid to admit they are different and may doubt their blackness, as much as it is for the militant who is concerned that s/he needs to write a book too, and for the ____ (fill in blank with the appropriate race/ethnicity) people who love/like have interest in them all anyway. But, mainly, it's just for ordinary people or all persuasions who enjoy listening to funny stories about what Black people think of each other and what the White-majority world (specifically the US) in which they live thinks of them. Thurston also helps those who may not have ever been exposed to the different "kinds" of Black people understand that he is not the first to observe and write about the diversity among people of the same racial/ethnic group; he lists authors, titles, and terminology used within some groups to indicate such differences, including the book written by the only White panelist as a definitive guide to Whiteness.

    This book is educating, entertaining, interesting, and funny. I laughed out loud for hours! Literally! If you can't laugh at yourself, this book is definitely not for you, and, well... you just might be a racist.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan Canada 04-27-12
    Dan Canada 04-27-12

    Tell us about yourself!

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    "A Fun Read"
    What did you love best about How to Be Black?

    I'm a white guy, and even I enjoyed this book. It is a comical take on black culture in America.


    What about Baratunde Thurston’s performance did you like?

    What's not to like?


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Ozzymandias
    Mistworld
    9/26/13
    Overall
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    "This book is the reason I joined audible"
    What did you like most about How to Be Black?

    It's easy for a book about being black to turn into a big pity party. The subject of racism is very emotive, a lot of horrible things have happened and still to. This book allows us to examine something of celebrating black culture without emotional baggage.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of How to Be Black?

    All of it, its great throughout - I loved the Negro spiritual, I love the tale of the "controversy" of his name, the black employee, the black friend, the angry negro - so funny.


    What about Baratunde Thurston’s performance did you like?

    Baratunde is a great performer, his delivery in the audio version of this book is awesome. He'll have you in stitches. This is better than the print version because he is such an entertaining reader.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I was able to listen to this book in one sitting during the weekend. Once I started, I couldn't stop listening.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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