How to Be Black

How to Be Black

3.9 44
by Baratunde Thurston
     
 

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The Onion’s Baratunde Thurston shares his 30-plus years of expertise in being black, with helpful essays like “How to Be the Black Friend,” “How to Speak for All Black People,” “How To Celebrate Black History Month,” and more, in this satirical guide to race issues—written for black people and those who love

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Overview

The Onion’s Baratunde Thurston shares his 30-plus years of expertise in being black, with helpful essays like “How to Be the Black Friend,” “How to Speak for All Black People,” “How To Celebrate Black History Month,” and more, in this satirical guide to race issues—written for black people and those who love them. Audacious, cunning, and razor-sharp, How to Be Black exposes the mass-media’s insidiously racist, monochromatic portrayal of black culture’s richness and variety. Fans of Stuff White People Like, This Week in Blackness, and Ending Racism in About an Hour will be captivated, uplifted, incensed, and inspired by this hilarious and powerful attack on America’s blacklisting of black culture: Baratunde Thurston’s How to Be Black.

Editorial Reviews

Christian Lander
"One of the smartest and funniest books I’ve ever read."
Christian Lander (via Twitter)
“One of the smartest and funniest books I’ve ever read.”
Fast Company
“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.”
Booklist
“A hilarious look at the complexities of contemporary racial politics and personal identity.”
The Root
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.
Publishers Weekly
In this hilarious blend of razor-sharp satire and memoir, Onion editor and cofounder of the Jack & Jill Politics blog Thurston muses on how, generally, to be black in today’s ever-changing world. He’s quick to point out that his book is not a magic potion that will make readers instantly black (it is not How to Become a Black Person If You Are Not Already Black). Instructive chapters include “How to Be The Black Friend” and its corollaries, “How to Speak for All Black People” and “How to Be The Black Employee.” Thurston’s life was shaped by his mother, a force of nature who instilled in him a love of camping and bicycling, along with a fiercely radical spirit. As a teen, he participated in the Ankobia program in D.C. taught by Pan-African black American activists. This same woman also enrolled him in the prestigious Sidwell Friends school (home to Chelsea Clinton and President Obama’s daughters) and cheered at his Harvard graduation. In order to get a fuller picture of blackness in America today, Thurston assembles “The Black Panel,” consisting of artists and stand-up comedians who address race in their work. Questions he poses to panel include when the members first realized they were black (most were very young), if they ever wished not to black (very few did), and what they thought of the idea of “post-racial America.” Using his own story and humor, Thurston demonstrates that the best way to “be” anything is to simply be yourself. Agent: Gary Morris. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
Comedian and Onion director of digital Thurston (Better Than Crying: Poking Fun at Politics, the Press & Pop Culture, 2003) delivers a "book about the ideas of blackness" in the guise of a helpful how-to guide to being black. The author and a "Black Panel" made up of friends and colleagues, including one white person to avoid charges of reverse discrimination and also as a control group, ponder many questions about being black--e.g., "When did you first realize you were black?" and "Can you swim?" However, the humor does not serve the role of making light of race and racism, but rather as a gentle skewering that invites serious consideration of how black Americans are often limited by certain expectations concerning blackness. In "How to Speak for All Black People," Thurston challenges the assumption that one black person can speak to the experience of an entire race, as well as the assumption that a black person can only speak to the black experience. In "How to Be the Black Employee," he confronts the challenges of being hired both for the job and for being black--you will and must be, for instance, featured in every company photo. The humor does not always work; at times it is blog-like cleverness for the sake of cleverness (and is yet another joke about blacks needing white friends to get a cab really needed?). Thurston is at his best when he writes about his own life: growing up in Washington, D.C., attending Sidwell Friends School, matriculating at Harvard ("my experience of race at Harvard was full of joy and excitement"). The key to greater harmony is not necessarily seeing beyond race, but, as one Black Panelist puts it, to "see that and all of the things that I have done, to embrace all of me." Flawed but poignant and often funny.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062003225
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/30/2012
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
77,108
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Baratunde Thurston is the director of digital at The Onion, the cofounder of Jack & Jill Politics, a stand-up comedian, and a globe-trotting speaker. He was named one of the 100 most influential African-Americans of 2011 by The Root and one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company magazine. Baratunde resides in Brooklyn and lives on Twitter (@baratunde).

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