How to Be Black

  • by Baratunde Thurston
  • Narrated by Baratunde Thurston
  • 6 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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".


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Important satire, but not as funny as expected


This is a clever book that makes you think about what black and non-blacks imagine blackness should be. The satire made important and biting statements about the state of society. Being from a very small and very white town myself, my opinion is that Baratunde Thurston does a good job of writing in a way that should not alienate a non-black audience.

He narrates his own story which helped him put emphasis where needed.

I also liked the snippets from guest contributors.


Having heard Mr Thurston on podcasts in the past, and knowing his pedigree at the Onion, I was genuinely expecting something funnier than this. The book certainly seemed like it was trying to be hilarious, but the humour fell flat.

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- EJ

This book is the reason I joined audible

What did you like most about How to Be Black?

It's easy for a book about being black to turn into a big pity party. The subject of racism is very emotive, a lot of horrible things have happened and still to. This book allows us to examine something of celebrating black culture without emotional baggage.

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

All of it, its great throughout - I loved the Negro spiritual, I love the tale of the "controversy" of his name, the black employee, the black friend, the angry negro - so funny.

What about Baratunde Thurston’s performance did you like?

Baratunde is a great performer, his delivery in the audio version of this book is awesome. He'll have you in stitches. This is better than the print version because he is such an entertaining reader.

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

I was able to listen to this book in one sitting during the weekend. Once I started, I couldn't stop listening.

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- Ozzymandias

Book Details

  • Release Date: 31-01-2012
  • Publisher: HarperAudio