Home > Biography, Book Review, Social Commentary > How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston

How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston

Baratunde Thurston wrote a really good book. You should read it. He’s funny and smart.

When people began to herald the election of Barack Obama as proof that we were living in a post-racial society I finally put together that I was born only 16 years removed from the assassination of MLK and the civil rights movement. That’s not a lot of time.

My dad has this great game where he asks older people all sorts of things, and nothing is off-limits because he asks as if he were an anthropologist – wanting to understand and not judge. Taking my dad’s lead I was bold in my teen years asking people who were old enough to effect change in the 60s what their contribution towards the civil rights movement was. I quit asking that question because the response is often so disappointing.

My response to the disappointment has been to constantly review my actions and my motives so that when guys my age twenty years from now ask me what I was doing during X event I can be proud of the contribution I made to furthering justice.

Thurston’s book articulates that there are many ways to be black. The best takeaway from the book is that it is white people’s job to end racism:

“I’ve wanted to hold an actually meaningful ceremony making the destruction of racism the official responsibility of white people. It would be like passing off the Olympic torch.” Thurston, Baratunde (2012-01-31). How to Be Black (pp. 215-216). Harper Paperbacks. Kindle Edition.


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