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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 (569 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Elaine Reed 04-16-12
    Elaine Reed 04-16-12 Member Since 2005
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    "A humorous reflection on how-to-be-black"
    Would you listen to How to Be Black again? Why?

    The book is well-organized into socially relevant sections. Each is dealt with by including fact, personal experience and a diverting array of "Black Experts." The audience is dealt with much in the way a stand up comic addresses the audience: even when you, the listener, are not the subject of discussion, the discussion entertains you.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I've been somewhat familiar with Mr. Thurston from other digital venues, so was glad to learn more details about his past and perspective.


    What does Baratunde Thurston bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He's an excellent reader. In general, when an author is a good reader, I want him to perform his book. That way I know the emphasis is properly placed. In the section where he reads a seriously-angry-black-teen speech he wrote (as a teen), he reads it with his adult tongue firmly in cheek.


    Any additional comments?

    In the end, it's lighthearted; no a book you'd go to for detailed social or political history. (He works for The Onion, for crying out loud!) Still, if everyone in the US could adopt the spirit of the book when addressing our divisive, complicated racial history, we'd be better able to share our disappointments and applaud our progress together.
    It's an easy listen, a fun listen. Though I don't personally re-listen to books, if I walked into a room where it was playing, I'd definitely listen--and smile--again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim McAlpine BC, Canada 03-26-12
    Tim McAlpine BC, Canada 03-26-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Much more than a funny title"

    As a white Canadian, I didn't really think I would learn how to be black in America! I downloaded this book primarily for a laugh or two, but ended up learning and thinking about my own perceptions of what it's like to be black in America. The content is entertaining and thought provoking and Baratunde's audio performance is fabulous.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Coupeville, WA, United States 03-19-12
    Steven Coupeville, WA, United States 03-19-12 Member Since 2012

    Adventure Scout

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    "Not your typical diversity book"
    What made the experience of listening to How to Be Black the most enjoyable?

    Awesome book. Whatever you probably think this book is, it is probably not.


    What about Baratunde Thurston’s performance did you like?

    Baratunde is hilarious! I probably enjoyed the audio more than I would have enjoyed reading the words. The audiobook also contains recorded interviews.


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

    I listened in just several sessions. It is a very easy listen.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda K Moffatt 03-18-12 Member Since 2014
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    "I really like this book!"
    If you could sum up How to Be Black in three words, what would they be?

    Funny, serious, mind-opening.


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

    This is the first I've been exposed to him, but I will be looking for more.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It certainly made me laugh. I don't think I actually cried, but it was very sobering without being heavy-handed.


    Any additional comments?

    Serious subject matter done in a mostly funny way. How to be yourself no matter what your color or background, race relations past, present and future. As a white person, I'll admit some of it was hard to hear but I'm glad I did. I also LOVE his panel and their contributions to the book. Brilliant idea. I plan to check them out individually also.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Keketso 03-24-15
    Keketso 03-24-15 Member Since 2014
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    "A Black Comedy For Colours"

    Baratunde has produced a work that not only captivates the reader with humour but also with his experiences and those of his friends and colleagues. "How to Be Black" is truly an informative and enjoyable book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHenry SoCal 03-19-15
    CHenry SoCal 03-19-15 Member Since 2013

    Chris Henry

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    "Hilarious"

    Hilarious hilarious hilarious. Buy it. Very insightful. I'm glad the author narrates. Appeals to all different kinds and ages of people.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    EW 03-08-15
    EW 03-08-15
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    "Awesome"

    bravo! This was a great book I loved it everyone must buy it. Awesome read

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    takingcare COLLEGE PARK, GA, United States 10-01-13
    takingcare COLLEGE PARK, GA, United States 10-01-13
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    "Getting to the heart of matters"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes because there is valuable insight to learn from as well as relate to.


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

    the interviews with other people to help tell one mans story. It is very uniquely done.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I enjoyed much of the humor. When we can laugh at ourselves, we are more likely to make positive efforts to keep moving forward.


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

    I prefer to listen while I work. Six hours of listening would require more physical activity than just sitting, but it can be done.


    Any additional comments?

    I think the making of this book was a great idea. It gives insight to many aspects of very common human experiences. This book will hold value in the minds of many who read/listen to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Manny Dallas, PA, United States 07-21-13
    Manny Dallas, PA, United States 07-21-13 Member Since 2015
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    "If you need to sleep..."
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I haven't read a book that can put me to sleep as quickly as this one. It must come with a warning to not listen to it while driving or operating heavy machinery. I cant recommend this. I don't understand why the tech community cheered about it.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Baratunde Thurston again?

    Never


    What three words best describe Baratunde Thurston’s performance?

    B+ for effort


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Boredom


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl United States 12-19-12
    Carl United States 12-19-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Disappointed"

    I was disappointed by this book, having heard BT on, for example, the TWIT podcast and finding him very funny and engaging. This book seems to have trouble deciding if it was his biography or a satire. Both, I guess, but the bio was only interesting in a few parts, and I did not find the satire to be as funny as BT is when I've heard him on podcasts. It was interesting, though, to actually *hear* the colleagues/friends he interviewed in their own words, which you wouldn't get from the written version. BT does do a good job of reading the book, and I always enjoy hearing an author's reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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