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How to Be Black Hardcover – January 31, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (January 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062003216
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062003218
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (186 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #342,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A hilarious blend of razor-sharp satire and memoir...Using his own story and humor, Thurston demonstrates that the best way to ‘be’ anything is to simply be yourself.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Terrific...How to Be Black is an assault on nostalgia--a satirical, biographic attack on the idea that ‘blackness’ or any label should be derived from historical description.” (Fast Company)

“A hilarious look at the complexities of contemporary racial politics and personal identity.” (Booklist)

Struggling to figure out how to be black in the 21st century? Baratunde Thurston has the perfect guide for you...Fans of Stuff White People Like, This Week in Blackness and other blogs that take satirical shots at racial stereotypes are sure to love How to Be Black. (The Root)

“One of the smartest and funniest books I’ve ever read.” (Christian Lander (via Twitter))

From the Back Cover

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?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book is for you.

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 thirty 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 readers 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 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."


More About the Author

Baratunde is a comedian, author and former director of digital for The Onion. His responsibilities included producing the "War For The White House" 2008 election coverage, helping the company adapt its storytelling to new digital platforms such as smartphones and social media, and expanding The Onion's public voice as well as relationships with the technology community. Baratunde is a best-selling New York Times author of How To Be Black. He regularly engages in "digital performance art" including being @The_Swine_Flu, running a real world campaign for his Foursquare mayorship and "live hate-tweeting" all Twilight movies. He's been a standup comedian for more than 10 years and is a highly sought-after public speaker addressing topics related to the media, politics, technology and marketing. Also black people. He was named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company magazine and has worked with the White House Office of Public Engagement as a digital advisor.

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Customer Reviews

Very funny, smart,book.
Lawrence Kensi
Race is a tough topic to discuss in the U.S. Baratunde Thurston makes it a whole lot easier with the humor in this book.
Amazon Customer
I laughed, I cried, I related...Great read.
Fanisha

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Jessica on January 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I've followed Baratunde on Twitter for a couple years now, and I've been anticipating this book for a while. He's hilarious, and the book is proof of it. With chapters on things like How to Be the Next Black President, how could it not?

While the book is funny - and mostly satirical - it also comments on what it actually means to be black in the U.S. today. The personal stories that Baratunde shares are heartening, informative, allegorical and more.

The interviews with people like Elon James White and Cheryl Contee are fantastic, too. Basically just a fantastic book.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Race is a tough topic to discuss in the U.S. Baratunde Thurston makes it a whole lot easier with the humor in this book. Both a memoir of growing up black in the late 20th century and a sharp social commentary--not to mention a handy instruction manual--"How to Be Black" is a funny and thought-provoking read.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Jigna on January 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This wonderful book is actually not about being black. It's about being you, whoever you might be. In sharing his life journey, wit, and ruminations, Baratunde helps us see that each of us is on our journey to "blackness."
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By kaimac on January 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is the book that every lover of all things black (hip hop, basketball, being a good dancer, being a wide receiver in the NFL etc) has been waiting for. Those of you that have stood on the edges, desperately wanting to be more black but have been too scared to take the first step... this book is for you.

The book answers important questions like:

* Once you've gone black, can you in fact, go back?
* What's up with those funny handshakes?
* Can white men really not jump?
* How can Obama be black AND Hawaiian? Confusing.
* What sort of rims should I get on my Escalade?
* What exactly is Grape Drank?

Not really, but it is super funny, very touching, and an all round bloody smart read. Baratunde is the guy from the Onion who gave Donald Trump one of the best smack downs in internet history (Google it). His first book doesn't disappoint in the slightest.

Bottom line: read it if you like funny things, are interested in race in America, or just want to raise eyebrows on the subway a bit (the last one doesn't work for the kindle version, unfortunately).
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By AykonSilvers on February 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am a white guy who was born and raised in rural southern Oklahoma where racism was still quite prevalent. I never considered myself racist... I had black friends, dated a few black girls and now my family and I have a foster baby who is black. This book is an amazing insight into the world that I never knew but somehow felt. I greatly enjoy listening to Baratunde describe his life and experiences mixed with a little humor and a healthy dose of satire. This is a must read for any one who has ever wondered about blackness but was too afraid to ask.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Wayne73 on January 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"How To Be Black" by Baratunde Thurston is a wonderful book by a brilliant writer. Baratunde's story is both insightful and engaging. His wit and wisdom flows through the pages. It's riveting and refreshing writing. Mr. Thurston's book is a must read.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. Boyle on February 1, 2012
Format: Audible Audio Edition
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?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By MikeFaley on January 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"How To Be Black" takes a look at the role of race in America from the perspective of a black male born in the 80's, raised in the 90's, from the perspective of an adult in 2012 - with a little help from his friends and more than a little dose of satire. Baratunde Thurston walks us through the life of a black man who is constantly asked to explain the behavior of his race, while also giving insight into why he looks at things the way he does - the impact his mother had on him, his explorations of different racial hats he would wear throughout his years (inquisitive, militant, satirical), and experiences of tried-and-true bigotry (no story of a black males story in an Ivy League school would be complete without the n word thrown around for good measure).

This book is recommended for anyone with a sense of humor and an interest in race relations in a post-Obama America, from the perspective of a thoughtful, educated, positive individual.
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