#HowToBeBlack | My Center for Experimental Blackness

1.13.2014

Can I just say ALL HAIL Baratunde Thurston, a god of excellent thought and friend to awesome folk who know how to break "it" all down so that it can forever be broke!!! (Love Jones quote. Who got that?! Who got it?!)

Barathunde Thurston, How to be black, book review


I picked up this book largely at the recommendation of my wonderful pal, Twinkie. She read and raved and I'm 90% on board with digging what she's found joy in so I said heyyyyyy. (I also secretly wanted to read this book in public and see how the public at large perceived me, a mixed chick, reading a book about being black. Would they react much like they did when I read Malcolm X.

 "What out children she's an angry black woman and she now has a guide book to become even stronger!"

Or...

Would black folk look at me and shake their heads? I have some ignorant ass family and folks who annoyingly buzz in and out of my life who LOVE to point out that I'm not black. Or not black enough. Would these annoying specimens see me and jump to the conclusion that I'm trying to cram for the big "Getting Your Black Card" test?

I never found out. I work from home. I hadn't traveled in a plane or any other mode of public transportation so only my husband and a few on Instagram knew I was reading it. (And the annoying ignorant group of folk who I just described made sure to pipe up. Isn't typical behavior so interesting and fun?!)

The Book Though!

So I laughed my ass off while reading this book. I nodded and agreed wholeheartedly and shouted out, "YES!!!" multiple times. I set up short little school lessons for Mark every time I had one of these moments.

"Okay sit down husband. Today I'm going to tell you about the one chapter where Baratunde told me this awesome trick for being the black friend successfully."

It was fun and informative. Intelligent, but not dense and over my head. I caught myself snapping pictures of passages I enjoyed and wanted to remember. (I check books out from the library...because I support my sister friends who are all awesome librarians and push peeps to use our neighborhood libraries with the quickness.) Otherwise I would have highlighted ish like a normal bookworm.

I shall end with some of my favorite passages:

(Why you shouldn't be the angry black person)

Q: Would you like paper or plastic?
A: As a black woman, I choose paper. Its brownness reminds me of my people. The tree that died so it might hold these heavy groceries is a metaphor for the sufferance of my people. The tree that died so it might hold these heavy groceries is a metaphor for the sufferance of my people, who, for too long, have carried the burden of America's original sin. Its roots run as deep as the blood of my people beneath this so-called nation. [Liberal usage of "so-called" is highly encouraged.]

(Why the idea of a post-racial world is silly and why pretending we're not different is silly, too.)

To not recognize that not only is stupid but it also demeans the experience of those other people. I don't think you can ever achieve cultural understanding by pretending that cultural difference doesn't exist. ~Christian Lander, author of Stuff White People Like

(Why there will always be differences we use to divide us all.)

There was a time in this country when it was a big deal if you were a Catholic. That was a problem. There was at ime in this country when it was a big deal if you were a Jew. Problem. But, you know, you go down the street, you go in to eat in a little place and you're a Catholic, a Jew, who cares? Everybody's marrying each other, making little brown babies that don't know where to go to the church on Friday, Saturday Sunday, so they just be at the club. ~ Derrick Ashong

So if the future is a United States in which race is no longer the primary issue that binds or divides us, then (a) why have you read this far in a book called How to Be Black, and (b) what's the future of blackness in America? 

BET can go suck a dick, flat-out...Call yourself We Like Dumb Shit. Or Ignant TV. I'll accept that. ~Elon James White, comedian 

Also enjoyed the thoughtful conclusions...

Dream bigger. Just be, and the blackness will follow.

Hey I'm going to be. No matter what I do. If I eat sushi and dance and Irish jig, that's black, because I'm doing it." ~ Jacquetta Szathmari, comedian, writer and creator of the one-woman show That's Funny. You Didn't Sound Black on the Phone.

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