How To Be Black

Baratunde Thurston is the CEO, co-founder, and hashtagger-in-chief of Cultivated Wit. He wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black and served for five years as director of digital for the satirical news outlet, The Onion. He writes the monthly back page column for Fast Company and contributes to the MIT Media Lab as a director’s fellow.He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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"I even have the power to somehow suddenly inspire ‘them’ (non-Blacks) to begin using racial slang"

In answer to the Day 14 Question “Do you ever find yourself turning your race “up” or “down” depending on who you’re with?”

Yes, almost every day at work when I am in a meeting with executives.  Given that I am the first and only Black employee in myunit, I have the profound effect of causing heads to turn when “they” (non-Black executives) realize that the person to whom they were speaking on the phone is Black, cause massive “meeting confusion” and hysteria when they (mainly white folks) realize I am not there to take notes as their secretary but am indeed a “real” executive myself, and I even have the power to  somehow suddenly inspire “them” (non-Blacks) to begin using racial slang and giving high-fives during these executive meetings.  Hell — I’ve noticed that our CIO even changes the manner of his walk when he sees me — his walk begins to take a kind of staggered gate, dragging one foot behind him, and doing a pretty good imitation of “Huggie Bear” from the old Starsky & Hutch series.  Straight embarrassing.

Turn that shit up B!

In answer to the Day 14 Question “Do you ever find yourself turning your race “up” or “down” depending on who you’re with?”

I turn my blackness up when I find I’m around elite White people. But at the same time, I try to act scared of them. I’ll pull up next to a white woman in my very expensive BMW and make sure she sees me lock my doors as I’m listening to ACE HOOD and RICK ROSS. 

The look I get is priceless. Confusing, but priceless. 

I’m going to get a set of gold fronts to wear with my couture 2k dollar tux and wear them both to a black tie function for charity. 

Lil John Varatos…

Trevor

Key and PeeleTuesdays 10:30/9:30c
White-Sounding Black Guys
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February 15 - Do you ever find yourself turning your race “up” or “down” depending on who you’re with?

Throughout Black History Month (and beyond), we’ll be focusing on questions of identity. For day fifteen we want to know: Do you ever find yourself turning your race “up” or “down” depending on who you’re with?

Check out the above video from the new Comedy Central show, Key & Peele.

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