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If You Don’t Read This, You’re Racist.

Baratunde Thurston, author of How to Be Black, unveils his ambitious, three step plan for "the future of blackness." 

Note: Please direct all outraged inquiries about the title of this article to the publishers of How to Be Black, by Baratunde Thurston, who came up with the original version of that brillant marketing tagline. Or perhaps it was Baratunde himself…


First, a disclaimer. If you are a white suburban teenager wearing a backwards baseball cap and blasting Jay-Z from the speakers of your parents’ Grand Cherokee, Baratunde Thurston’s* How to Be Black is not the instruction manual you desperately seek. 

The rock star panel of “expert black people” Baratunde has assembled for the book (there’s one white guy, too, as the control group), asking them to weigh in on questions like “Can you swim?” and “Have you ever wanted not to be black?” doesn’t feature any hip hop artists, basketball players, gang-busting community organizers, or other media-vetted representatives of Black America.  

Baratunde Thurston himself fits no readymade profile, racial or otherwise: a Harvard graduate, comedian, political blogger, director of digital for The Onion, and social-media prankster/pioneer (in 2009, he embodied the swine flu with a Twitter account of that name, “following” and tweeting to Swine flu fearmongers), he specializes in creative experimentation and redefining what’s possible. The stories he and his and guests tell in the book are funny, complicated, painfully revealing slices of real life in “post-racial” America.



Watch as Baratunde unveils his ambitious, three-step plan for “the future of blackness”:


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