How to be black

By Rogan Smith |
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An Hilarious Black Experience How-To Guide

If you don’t buy this book, you’re a racist.

How could you not buy, How To Be Black after reading that on the inside cover?

Comedian Baratunde Thurston’s satirical guidebook offers friendly and ridiculously funny advice that he says anyone can use when befriending a black person or working with them.

Thurston is both humorous and intelligent. He is adroit at weaving his life experiences into the narrative and doesn’t disappoint.

I’m a sucker for a funny book. I don’t buy books without reading the first chapter in the bookstore. It annoys the hell out of friends who have to wait for me, not to mention bookstore owners who aren’t sure if I’m even going to buy their merchandise.

But, from the first page, I knew that this book was going to be special. I found myself laughing from start to finish and often wondering how many white people actually secured a copy for themselves.

The guidebook cautions black people about taking remarks or experiences too seriously, noting that balance is key.

“Your effectiveness depends on your ability to make non-black people feel comfortable. You can’t go flying off the handle every time something potentially racist goes down. If you do that, you risk losing the privileged position of Black Friend and sliding into the much less useful role of Angry Negro,” he writes.

One of the things that stood out for me the most, is how spot on Thurston is when talking about how white people automatically assume that black people are the official spokespeople for their race the minute they have a discussion about black-related topics.

He also details persistent stereotypes (black people can’t swim), talks about his experience of being black while attending Harvard and shows readers how to be the black employee. There’s a lot of black in this book!

He also warns cautions Americans hoping to be the next black president to keep a copy of their birth certificate on them at all times. Even in the shower.

“President Obama made the mistake of thinking that newspaper records, the word of the State of Hawaii, and common sense would eventually prevail over rumors that he was born during a celebration of the Fourth Intifada in the fiery pit of Mount Doom, somewhere in the Marxist Russian province of Kenya.”

He’s right.

Overall, It was a great read, so much so, that when I need a good chuckle or encounter a white person who says something completely racist towards me, I turn to this book.

Happy reading!

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