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How to Be Black - Baratunde Thurston

How to Be Black

By Baratunde Thurston

  • Release Date: 2012-01-31
  • Genre: Humor
Score: 4
From 74 Ratings


New York Times Bestseller

Baratunde Thurston’s comedic memoir chronicles his coming-of-blackness and offers practical advice on everything from “How to Be the Black Friend” to “How to Be the (Next) Black President”.

Have you ever been called “too black” or “not black enough”?

Have you ever befriended or worked with a black person?

Have you ever heard of black people?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book is for you. It is also for anyone who can read, possesses intelligence, loves to laugh, and has ever felt a distance between who they know themselves to be and what the world expects.

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 more than 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.

“As a black woman, this book helped me realize I’m actually a white man.”—Patton Oswalt


  • Save your money

    By Joseph Lewis
    This book is bad... Save your money
  • How to be black

    By Money maker111222333
    Now there's got to be how to be Asian, white, Indian, and Mexican. Can u do it.
  • It was much better than cats....I'm going to read again & again

    By KayQueJay
    I think every culture should read this book. I am happy to know that I am not alone on my feelings of blackness. This book made me laugh out loud and review my views on race. Great job Baratunde!
  • I will not sleep tonight because of this book

    By Milan T.
    One of the greatest, most entertaining, thought provoking books to date. Buy it.
  • Baratunde cheekily says: "if you don't buy this book, you're racist"

    By James Britton
    Wanna know How To Be Black? Get this book! I read a publisher's review copy and it's a laugh out loud riot. Part guide book, part serious memoir with plenty of comic relief, Baratunde briefs you on the ins and outs of growing up black in the same white, East Coast elite school that Obama's kids attend and offers tips on how to be a friend of the black community. This book turns racism upside down, backwards, slant ways and every other way. If you haven't had the privilege of knowing and following the hyper-connected Baratunde on Twitter as I have since the early days, fret not. It's not too late to get to know him and come to appreciate his quick wit and astute observations of technology, culture, and blackness. Baratunde's position as director of digital at The Onion lends comedic credence to this fantastic book that helps white Americans get in touch with all things black, just in time for Black History Month. NB: If you're white, it won't turn you black. If you're black, it might help you to understand the dynamic with non-blacks.
  • Fantastic "How To" Book

    By AckmDead
    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?
  • I wrote this book, and it's awesome.

    By baratunde
    Truly this is the best book I've ever written. I was surprised to find out all the things I know and how well I expressed them. As the author, I can humbly and objectively say book is truly one for the ages. Everyone should buy several copies. Also, I'm black, y'all.