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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 (576 )
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4.0 (529 )
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4.4 (530 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Snipy 06-12-12
    Snipy 06-12-12
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    "Great book for black and white people!"

    Funny, engaging, and enlightening. And I am a white woman, by the way...Baratunde is a great narrator and has a very important message to deliver, in my view. I think this is a great example in which the audio book is better than the actual book (such as William Shatner's autobiography as an audio book, but I am no way comparing Thurston's message to Shatner's).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laces Out 05-17-12
    Laces Out 05-17-12 Listener Since 2010
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    "Interesting, but not necessarily entertaining."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Not really. I expected to be enlightened. Instead it was just one stereotype after another.


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

    I liked the trip to Africa and his reaction.


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

    This is the first book from him that I have listened too.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cooki Las Vegas, NV, United States 05-07-12
    cooki Las Vegas, NV, United States 05-07-12
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    "thought-provoking: mind-enriching"
    What made the experience of listening to How to Be Black the most enjoyable?

    The quality of play back is excellent


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

    I have it both ways: on my ereader & audible


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

    Empathy


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kendra 04-18-12
    Kendra 04-18-12
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    "Thank you for saying it out loud!"
    What made the experience of listening to How to Be Black the most enjoyable?

    I loved the author's delivery, as well as the use of a panel of different speakers. It kept the 'story' lively.


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

    The weaving together of humor and intellect was brilliant. No one can miss the message; yet, it is presented in a manner lighthearted enough to thoroughly enjoy.


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

    Thurston brings the passion, humor and even the pain of what he actually feels in personal situations as he learns and lives through what it means to be Black.


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

    Although that may have been fun, I needed to meditate on certain portions, so I read it in chunks.


    Any additional comments?

    So good to know that my interpretation of what it is to be Black counts!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nepenthe 04-02-12
    Nepenthe 04-02-12
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    "A fun lesson in how to get along"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. I, an aging white man, found it to be really funny yet full of serious and insightful information into interpersonal relations. It is a very positive and constructive guide to getting along with your fellow man.

    The performance is outstanding. Only the author could have delivered it this well.


    What other book might you compare How to Be Black to and why?

    I've never read anything else like it (but I'd like to...).


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DARRYL H FAGIN 03-26-12 Member Since 2005
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    "A fresh positive perspective on the old and new"
    Would you listen to How to Be Black again? Why?

    Yes. His point of view is refreshing.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Baratunde Thurston has empathically unraveled, the Black experience, with a fresh clear-eyed perspective that is sensitive, insightful and compassionate. His robust sense of humor is the perfect catalyst that helps him to explain these complex and sometimes confusing issues about being African-American in America so everyone can appreciate and understand what it means to be Black in America.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Bronx, NY, United States 03-12-12
    Steve Bronx, NY, United States 03-12-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Great insight into the black experience in America"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Great insight into the mainstream, middle-class, higher-learned black population.


    What other book might you compare How to Be Black to and why?

    Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell. Blink speaks of your gut reaction to the world around you; your first interaction with something/someone new. How To Be Black, is similar as it is a satire on the black experience in an upwardly mobile societal construct that may or may not exist. It's anecdotal and funny with notes of genius insight.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The chapter on the black employee.


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

    It was hilarious.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason LEDYARD, CT, United States 03-05-12
    Jason LEDYARD, CT, United States 03-05-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Funny book about serious issues"
    Would you listen to How to Be Black again? Why?

    Baratunde does a great job covering serious topics in a way that's funny, yet informative and in a way that gets you thinking about things from an angle you may not have found on your own. Great social commentary.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aaron Lynnwood, WA, United States 02-17-12
    Aaron Lynnwood, WA, United States 02-17-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Regardless of your race, you could learn from this"
    What did you love best about How to Be Black?

    Honesty and humor. Thurston's fearlessness serves the reader well.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm Hispanic. Like a lot of minorities, I can be many things to many people. When I'm visiting with my relatives I'm far browner than I am with my white friends. My best friend used to like to joke that I was whiter than him. It hurt my feelings and I wasn't really able to understand why until Baratunde related similar experiences.
    Race (or maybe more accurately culture or appearance) is still an issue in this day and age regardless of how much we want it not to be, and this book does an incredible job of relating the challenges of being a minority with humor. I think the value of this approach is that it can educate without preaching and without alienating the audience.
    Of course, his experience isn't all-encompassing, but he admits it. It is still an excellent treatment of the subject and can teach anyone a few things - even a fellow minority.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 02-07-12
    David 02-07-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Well done"
    Any additional comments?

    Baratunde did a great job with this book. The first 15 minutes are a little slow, he seems to be a little uncomfortable with the performance but he sounds like a pro after that. The story is riveting and his humor is contagious.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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