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How to Be Black Hardcover – January 31, 2012
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“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."
Top Customer Reviews
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).
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.
In How to Be Black Thurston perfectly injects humor into the topics and situations he talks about without losing any of the gravitas. He teaches the reader without them ever realizing they're learning because they're too busy enjoying his writing. But when you pause to really think about some of the things he says, you realize there's so much more he leaves unsaid, leaving it up to the reader to put the pieces together for themselves.
Under the guise of telling someone How to Be Black, he is educating the reader about the black experience and some of the things black people go through that I'm sure many white people are simply oblivious to. What I really took away from this book is the importance of understanding another person's experience and also examine your own contributions to their experience.
I think anyone can benefit from reading this book and even though the examples are specific to black culture, you could also plug in any other ethnicity or culture and have the same point be made. The more we learn about one another the more comfortable we become being around different people which leads to getting to know a person and the realization that we're not so different after all. And when we can come together and realize we're all in it together, then we can start working to make the world better for everyone.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's not a novel. There are no characters, pacing, or plot. The mood is comedic, but that wasn't a choice.Published 20 days ago by Caleb King
I've read a lot of great nonfiction work on contemporary black sociology, and this might be the best one. 'Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness? Read morePublished 21 days ago by Ryan Mease
Smart, well written, and often funny, but wrong about whites, especially if they are Republican and conservative. Read morePublished 1 month ago by michael fowler
WOW. What a satire. Baratunde Thurston hit the nail on the head with this book. Comedic relief for talking about race, Thurston tackles the bigger issues at play in race politics... Read morePublished 3 months ago by ShowThisBookSomeLove
This book fuses biographical notes with sanguine observations and absurdist allegory.
A light read that belies a heavy subject and grants some insight and... Read more