5.26.2012

Review (NON-YA): How to be Black by Baratunde Thurston

Title: How to be Black
Author: Baratunde Thurston
Pages: 254
Genre: Memoir

Goodreads Summary


"How to Be Black" is a satirical race manual designed for black people and those who love them. Expert Thurston is an editor at "The Onion."
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".

Review


(I read this book as a memoir for AP English next year.)


How to be Black presents itself as more of an ode to the African-American race than a memoir, but it soon lets you know that it is in fact the latter. The intro and first chapter are very humorous and engaging, and the entire book is filled with short, little humorous passages as well, but the narrative jumps around on the timeline quite a bit, and it is bogged down with random entries that don't quite add to the story. Nevertheless, it is entertaining and humorous, but the mention of politics and President Obama made me bang my head against the wall. 

The book instantly caught my eye with the tagline "If you don't buy this book, youre a racist." Thurston's narrative is very bland and blunt, but when writing in a tone meant to be funny, you aren't going to suffocate the book in difficult words and lengthy, complex sentences, so it fits. In case you missed it the other million times I mentioned it, this book is funny. Like, seriously. I was snorting through the pages like wildfire. This book helped me realize how white I really am. His name is Baratunde, which I instantly assumed was pronounced "BAIR-uh-tund." Of course, it's actually "Bah-ruh-TOON-day," which makes me feel like quite the racially-indifferent-white-guy.

As a memoir, the book isn't very deep, but the book doesn't restrain the laughs.


Two-and-a-Half Owls

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