How to be Black

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 March, 2012, 12:00am


How to be Black
by Baratunde Thurston
Harper Audio (audiobook)

Black History Month may be over this year, but for Baratunde Thurston that's no reason to stop celebrating blackness. He warns that his self-help book, How to be Black, will not turn you black if you are not already so. But for everyone there are small ways positively to recognise blackness: giving the mild fist pump to a black person across the restaurant, for example. Dripping with satire and bolstered by personal recollections, Thurston's is a welcome comedic volume about race that will have readers laughing, and thinking. Why should white Americans have a black friend? Because 'they become cooler by association'. But blackness is also equated, stereotypically, with hip hop, crime, drugs and affirmative action, says Thurston, a stand-up comedian (and digital director at The Onion) who was the obvious choice for the book's narrator. In the same breath, he tells how his father was shot to death in Washington's drug wars and his mother was a tofu-eating hippie, albeit someone who gave him a Nigerian name just to have a connection to Mother Africa.