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Extended Audio Sample How to Be Black, by Baratunde Thurston Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,257 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Baratunde Thurston Narrator: Baratunde Thursto Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Have you ever been called “too black” or “not black enough”?

Have you ever befriended or worked with a black person?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book is for you.

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 thirty years of 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.

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 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.”

Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “As a black woman, I realized after reading this book that I’m actually a white man.” 

    Patton Oswalt, comedian, writer, and actor

  • “Part autobiography, part stand-up routine, part contemporary political analysis, and astute all over, How to Be Black might do more to expose and explore the shifting dynamics of race in America than all the Pew data of the past decade ever can.” 

    Melissa Harris-Perry, contributing analyst for MSNBC and columnist for The Nation

  • “Offers a hilarious look at the complexities of contemporary racial politics and personal identity.” 


  • “Thurston combines autobiography and satire to examine, both humorously and seriously, being black in America today. His voice is expressive, energetic, and generally cheerful, and he moves the reading along skillfully. He gives almost everything a light tone, fitting the text, though some of the material is not comic…Thurston delivers a program that, overall, is lively, thoughtful, and often amusing.” 


  • New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2012 eMusic Best Audiobook of the Year
  • A 2013 Audie Award Finalist for Best Narration by the Author

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Collin | 2/20/2014

    " Amazing book filled with so many inside jokes about being black in a "post-racial" world. Thurston was dead-on in so many of his observations about life as a black man in today's society. His panel of experts were also hilarious yet poignant as they shared their experiences and how it has made them into the people they are today. Great read for anyone! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Zaphoddent | 2/20/2014

    " I like Baratunde on TWiT and thought I'd enjoy this book but unfortunately it mostly fell flat with just a few occasional funny moments. It's not terrible but I wouldn't describe it as particularly great either. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Eleanor | 2/18/2014

    " Thurston is very smart, very funny. The book is quite padded, in the way that books by comedians tend to be. The stuff about growing up in DC in the 80s, and especially about his Afrocentric, COBOL-programming mother was genuinely fascinating. I'd definitely read a longer book about her. It was short and quick. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jamie | 2/11/2014

    " Some laugh out loud funny lines and good points made. I read the book but I bet it's good, perhaps better, in audiobook format. "

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About the Author

Baratunde Thurston is the director of digital at The Onion, the cofounder of Jack & Jill Politics, a stand-up comedian, and a globe-trotting speaker. He was named one of the 100 most influential African-Americans of 2011 by The Root and one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company magazine. Thurston resides in Brooklyn.