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Download How to Be Black Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample How to Be Black Audiobook, 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 Thurston Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2012 ISBN: 9780062061614
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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?

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' 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 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 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 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 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. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cass | 2/4/2014

    " I get what the author was trying to do with this book but it was hard for me to read it. There were some funny parts and some parts that would enlighten a few but overall I just could not get into it and as a matter of fact I never finished the book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amiee | 1/23/2014

    " Baratunde was coming to a corp event to speak so I decided to listen to this book (I had never heard of it or him). About 20 min in...I because a HUGE fan! Baratunde is so funny and clever. I spoke to him at the event and even he said listening is better than reading. This is really Laugh out Loud funny. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vanessa | 1/17/2014

    " I enjoyed this book, I found myself chuckling out loud and frequently reading passages to my friends. It's a funny memoir with an ever-present current of truth running through it. I'd recommend it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Trevor | 1/10/2014

    " Very funny. Very smart. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dayan | 12/1/2013

    " LOL, is what this book is doing to me on public transportation, the weird stares and perplexed looks. I just can't put it down at the moment, and I can actually relate to some of his stories. I intend to hand it over to my girlfriend after. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ming-wai | 1/14/2013

    " Humor you can appreciate if you live in DC and a great beach read since it's easy to pick up and put down. Overall, I really enjoyed it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Zaz | 12/23/2012

    " A sharp, satirical window into the African-American experience. I'm so glad I chose the Audiobook version, which Baratunde reads himself. And I'm so glad I listen to TWIT and heard him plugging his book! (Although I'm not 100% convinced listening to a book counts as "reading".) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aimee Mchale | 5/15/2012

    " I loved this book. It's a great, entertaining read that gets you to consider how you/I/we all think about and act upon racial issues in this country. Very funny, engaging. Love this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Valarie | 5/9/2012

    " I read the book to LMAO and, at best, compare experiences. I did not expect to be inspired. Well played, Mr. Thurston. Well played. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 G. Tramaine Peoples | 3/30/2012

    " I can sum up how I feel about this book within 3 words across 2 statements.. Fantastic.. Must Read... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Veronica | 2/24/2012

    " Great read, funny, as well as thought provoking. Excellent way to discuss the issue of race in the USA. "

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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.