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Baratunde Thurston

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Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am

The things black folk don't do is the alleged part. There is no allegedness to my appearance. That is happening. Check out the site hosting Angela Tucker's cool video project which certainly shares the spirit of my forthcoming book, How To Be Black. (pre-order on amazon!)

The live chat is on Facebook. 1630 hrs ET


no seriously, it's not alleged. it's happening. 

unless black folk don't do live web chats.

now i've confused myself.

Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am

This image was made by folks at the Mozilla Festival on Media, Freedom and the Web. The party is in London November 4-6, 2011. Looks like a fun event. 

In the meantime, if someone wants to build me my own TARDIS, that would be pretty tremendous.

Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am

It's been a few years since I've regularly hosted a show (puppies on a hovercraft!), and I'm excited to get back in the recurring video saddle. My company, Cultivated Wit, this week announced we're doing a web series with AOL called Funded. It's about successfully crowdfunded businesses in the U.S.

Got tips? Let us know.

Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am

This was so much fun. Last night, I got to join friend, awesome person and America's Substitute Teacher Melissa Harris Perry as she covered in for Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC's The Last Word. They invited me on to talk a bit about The Onion's political coverage. It felt like an on-air tweetup. I wish we could do this on every Whiskey Friday.

I also have to add that doing cable news segments in which I'm in the same room and at the same table as the host is so much more fun and human than the disembodied, Futurama, talking head-in-a-box method. I don't mind being a talking head. I'd just prefer not to be a talking head in a box.

BTW, you're going to want to mark your calendars. Tuesday October 4 at 10pm is the return of Onion News Network on IFC. This year, the news is even less merciful.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am

"How To Be Black" in an actual bookstore!

Today my book, HOW TO BE BLACK is released, and I need your help.

This is my first book published by someone not-me (Harper Collins). It's like giving birth to a child except I don't have to start a college fund or move my home to find the best school district. In all other ways, however, the commitment is the same, and I'm writing to ask for your help in making this comedic memoir, satirical how-to and provocative conversation-starter a best-seller. 

Remember that scene in The Godfather where the godfather tells the funeral home dude, "someday I may ask you for a favor?" Well, this is that day. I'm the godfather. You're the funeral home operator. Rival gangs have ambushed my book at a toll booth, and I'm asking you for a favor. 

Here's how you can help.


Right now. Just do it. If you've already got a copy, buy one for someone else! It's available in all formats including hardcover at your local bookstore, all digital outlets like Kindle, Nook, iBooks plus audio! I did the voiceover myself. Visit Plus if you've ever enjoyed my free blogging, free standup, free TV appearances or free, awesome company, this is how you can repay me.


If you have access to a large group of people: company, school, criminal concern, buy 50 or 100 or more. Bulk orders are available at 800 CEO Read. Bulk discounts! Contact us about customization of large orders. 


Preferably with five stars. Do this as soon as possible. Do it now. People on Amazon do what other people on Amazon tell them. Be a leader. 


We’ve assembled a few useful messages in this blog post which includes a trailer, quotable lines from the book and endorsements from people like comedian Patton Oswalt and professor/TV host Melissa Harris-Perry. Please mention the book right now in your blogs, email newsletters and 3D social media content pipe-stream-nets. 

On twitter, reference the book with the hashtag #HowToBeblack and mention @baratunde. On Facebook, like the book at, and tag it and me ( in your status updates. On Tumblr, like our blog at We'll be re-blogging items tagged "how to be black," so post your thoughts on your own blogs with that tag for a shot at tumblr greatness


This book isn't some final statement on race and identity. It's the continuation of a conversation, and I want you to join it. The book is ultimately about "how to be," and we've built a platform to get people talking about blackness and identity in general. Starting with each day during Black History Month, we’ll focus on one question at, Go there, and submit your thoughts. 


You all know someone that NEEDS this book, maybe a teacher or college student group, maybe a company executive, maybe a political office-holder or artist. Even if the book isn’t for you, you probably know a few for whom it is perfect and necessary. Please consider not just forwarding this post (which I assume you've already done because you're a good person) but actively introducing us to this person. Basically, I need you to introduce me to Halle Berry. I should have just said that.


This project is a big deal. The book is incredibly personal. It represents years of work and passion and blood (some people don't know how to cooperate). If other ideas for how to help occur to you, let me know. But also know that I'd appreciate you just sending positive thoughts. 

Oh, and I'll be on permanent book tour for now on. Check the schedule at Stop by, say hi, and get a book signed!

Sincerely, thank you.

Baratunde Thurston


Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am


(by ATCQ)

It's all over the papers glowing rectangles. Google is acquiring Motorola. Here are some of the reasons many pundits are citing:

  • Get into the hardware business at last
  • Get closer to the living room and enterainment devices, the better to compete with Apple.
  • Block a mobile partnership path for Microsoft
  • Help defend Android against patent lawsuits by inheriting Motorola's patents.
  • Show it can spend over $12 billion and not break a sweat.

I shared some of this initial reasoning, but the true secret motivation only now occurred to me. Google gets the StarTAC phone and, more importantly, pagers!!!

Come on yall. Sir Mix-A-Lot ain't no fool

Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am

This may come as a shock to many of you, but I've been really torn during these past few months about who I should support in the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign. Obviously, I supported Barack Obama in 2008, but in 2012 I simply cannot put my weight behind a Kenyan. I'm sure it's a lovely place, but this is America, and I want to support an American this time, so I had to look to the Republican party.

On the weekend of May 20th, I decided to put my full weight behind Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. I figured, "Indiana never bothered anybody and seems like it's got a bunch of nice people," but then Daniels hit himself in the face with a door and got 16 stitches. If a man can't lead his face safely through a doorway, how can he lead America? One day later, he dropped out. This left me in a bit of a lurch.

These past few months have been tough without a candidate of my own. I've looked at the GOP field carefully, but no one was the obvious choice. Ron Paul is interesting, but sometimes he uses the name Rand, and I don't like when a man lies about his name. Herman Cain? No way. We already have a black president! Let's get some diversity in the White House, thank you. 

But late last night I awoke with a sudden clarity of mind. I thought, "America needs results, not rhetoric!!" Genius, right? I immediately typed this prophetic phrase into Google to see if I could trademark it. That's when it became obvious that Tim Pawlenty would get my vote and my support.

So a few moments ago, I visited T-Paw's real-time, up-to-date, super American website. It's beautiful!

I read every news update, watched every video and even joined his Pawlenty Action center! I filled out my profile, and told my Facebook friends about this great, results-driven man. I pledged to volunteer 3,000 hours for his campaign and unlocked the Workhorse badge! So far I've accumulated 204 points, 4 badges and sit in the top 7th percentile of all members, all in a few minutes. My only regret is in having missed the popular American Christian worship band SONICFLOOd at T-Paw's BBQ in Ames, Iowa yesterday.

But overall, I'm relieved, and the timing couldn't be better. It's great to know that I've just today discovered how I'm going to spend my next 3,000 hours. I urge all of you to join me and T-Paw. It's time for truth. Absolutely nothing can stop us now, T-Paw!! Nothing.

Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am

I attended the TED conference this year for the first time, and they asked me to curate a set of books. The request looked like this:

A guest curator is a TEDster with incredible talent who we know will enhance our attendees' experience by adding a carefully chosen list of books to our own bookstore selections. Last year, the books from guest curators became an instant hit; from Bill Gates to Chee Pearlman to Shonda Rhimes, curators represent a wide variety of disciplines and walks of life. Every bookstore shopper will see your sign and section, and TEDsters will be incredibly curious about what titles you have chosen. A guest curator is a TEDster with incredible talent who we know will enhance our attendees' experience by adding a carefully chosen list of books to our own bookstore selections. Last year, the books from guest curators became an instant hit; from Bill Gates to Chee Pearlman to Shonda Rhimes, curators represent a wide variety of disciplines and walks of life. Every bookstore shopper will see your sign and section, and TEDsters will be incredibly curious about what titles you have chosen. Here's the form I submitted. (Note: I make money if you buy the books through the links I provide. Amazon affiliate type thing. If you don't want me to profit from my curatorial labors, you can get the books through another link, but just know that it makes you a slighly annoying person!). 


Your name: Baratunde Thurston

Your title & organization, as you would like it to be displayed on your curator profile: Founder of Cultivated Wit. Author of How To Be Black

A 2-3 sentence biography: Baratunde is a comedian, writer, speaker, advisor, eater, lover, and taxpayer. He is the founder of the creative digital technology company Cultivated Wit, served as Director of Digital for The Onion, writes the monthly back page column for Fast Company and is a director's fellow at the MIT Media Lab. His book, How To Be Black, is a New York Times Best Seller. He's been black for over 30 years.

2-3 sentences on your book curation philosophy: All of the books on this list have affected the way I see the world in an at least semi-permanent fashion. They’ve turned me into that guy that won’t shut up to his friends about that idea he just read. And, they were all written using some sort of word processing software.  


2-3 sentences on EACH selection you make, to be displayed on small tents on top of each selection


The Power Broker, by Robert Caro

This is the story of an activist empowered and then corrupted by his effective pursuit of power, and it should be mandatory reading for anyone who claims to be a New Yorker. Robert Moses, who built more public works than many pharaohs combined, was a visionary, a genius, and an asshole. I’m still not sure whether the lesson is that absolute power corrupts or that everything would be ok if we limited absolute power to those with whom I agree.

The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander

This is one of those books you read knowing it will upset you, and yet you read it anyway because the truth has a draw all its own. Simply put: the drug war is the U.S.’s latest version of a racial caste system that uses the label “felon” to enable discrimination we would otherwise find deplorable. For maximum disgust and indignation, pairs well with the documentary, “The Central Park Five.”

Some Of My Best Friends Are Black, by Tanner Colby

A white man named “Tanner” wrote this book about the failure of integration in the United States. Looking at education, housing, church, and advertising, the author finds that we are as effectively segregated as ever, and that much of the U.S.’s disparate racial performance outcomes aren’t happenstance but were engineered. I blurbed this book, therefore it is awesome.

Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville

One of the most imaginative works of fiction I’ve ever read. This book changed the way I see the world of my dreams and my waking hours. After this, read another one of his books, “The Scar.”

Malcolm X: A Life Of Reinvention, by Manning Marable

An amazing portrait of a force of a man. Even more than “The Autobiography Of Malcolm X,” this book made Malcolm X feel like a human being with whom I could identify. 

Daemon, by Daniel Suarez

One of the most terrifying techno-thrillers due to the fact that it was written by a computer security expert, this book could also be called, “This Is Why We’re Fucked.” One way to divine the future is to scan the latest “trend report” from a research or consulting firm. The other is to read this book and see how our future could play out in a most dramatic fashion.

The Company, by Robert Littell

It’s a “fictionalized” account of the formation of the Central Intelligence Agency. Yeah, right. Everything in this book is true!

Dune, by Frank Herbert

Must. Have. Spice. 

Gang Leader For A Day, by Sudhir Venkatesh

A sociologist all but moves into a Chicago housing project to live among, study, and briefly manage a gang. Call it “the immersion method” of graduate study. More academics (and the policies they inspire) would benefit from leaving the ivory tower for the project tower, but maybe minus the actual running the gang part. 

Illusions: The Adventures Of A Reluctant Messiah, by Richard Bach

This book comes closest to a favorite song in that I’m always excited to read it again and again. A schoolmate of mine handed this book to me in the Spring of 1996, and I’ve read it at least every other year since.

The Intuitionist, by Colson Whitehead

There are two schools of elevator inspection in early 20th century New York City: the empiricists, who use advanced instrumentation, and the intuitionists, who rely on gut and tactile feeling. The best intuitionist in the game is a black woman. This book is full of win.

Behind The Kitchen Door, by Saru Jayaraman

What good is your locally grown, grass-fed and serenaded beef if the people who prepare it are abused? This book makes the compelling case that our definition of sustainable food must also include restaurant workers who are among the fastest growing, lowest paid categories of workers in the United States. More than merely upsetting you with facts, this book lays out a path toward solutions and will inspire you to act. 

Horns, by Joe Hill

I might categorize this as “playful horror.” A man starts to grow devil-like horns, and people confess their worst sins to him. Hilarity ensues. 

Go The Fuck To Sleep

Read this fucking book.


Please do not include your own book as part of your selections. However, DO tell us what your book is so that we may include it in the bookstore.

My book is “How To Be Black


As a bonus for readers of this blog, I also recommend Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor. Shaka is one of my fellow Director's Fellows at the MIT Media Lab. He's not the typical nerd school fellow. Shaka served 19 years in prison for murder. Here's what he writes about that and this book:

Writing about my wrongs was the first of many steps that I took to atone for taking a man's life.  Through the transformative power of writing, I accepted responsibility for my decisions and have used my experience to help others avoid the path that I took in my youth.   This is my story and it is my hope that by Writing My Wrongs, I can help others right their wrongs.

Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am
Hey fam, Last year, as I was wrapping up the manuscript for How To Be Black, I came across this magnificent, brilliant, witty and patriotic speech by Frederick Douglass delivered in 1852. So for the 4th of July 2011, I staged a dramatic reading of both the Declaration of Independence and Douglass's What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July? Enjoy The Declaration: and Brother Frederick:
Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am

Photo uploaded by Rebecca Trent to Facebook

For three hours (0120 to 0420), I remotely covered the middle-of-the-night police action against the peaceably assembled at Zuccotti Park in New York. My sources were location-based twitter search, citizen and reporter tweets, live web feeds, the NYPD police scanner and traffic cams. Here is everything I tweeted in a pretty Storify slideshow. (you can see the flat version here

Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am

We rarely see historical context on a cable news network, especially one that exposes a seemingly-pro-labor perspective. This CNN Working In America documentary with Soleda O'Brien looks interesting. It's about the debate over mountaintop removal for coal in West Virginia. I can't fully endorse the work cause I haven't seen it yet, but I applaud the effort.

The first opportunity I ever had to ask then-candidate Barack Obama a question, I challenged him over his pro-coal stance. (see this Google Video, and start at 10m09s)

Seems worth checking out.

Ninety years ago this month, 10,000 West Virginia miners waged a violent battle in support of labor rights. The fight now: Will the historic Blair Mountain battleground be preserved, or mined? "Battle for Blair Mountain: Working in America" airs at 8 p.m. ET Sunday, August 14 and 8 p.m. ET Saturday, August 20

Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am
This is my how-to-survive/thrive/enjoy/win SXSW post. But first, here is my SXSW Origin Story. Yesterday I found the initial email from a friend introducing me to SXSW and urging me to go. I received the email on September 2, 2004. The friend is Kevin Smokler, and he's a big reason I love the event and the reason I know about it. Kevin and I met at BookExpo in Chicago during the summer of 2004. It was a dinner organized by Bella Stander who is awesome. Kevin and Baratunde at SXSW 2006 (Photo by Flickr by neilio) Kevin and I stayed in touch, and I hired him for a "virtual book tour" phone-based consulting session focused on marketing my first book. Over the course of exchanging emails, Kevin, as another self-described "conference whore," suggested we swap conference recommendations. On his list was something called "South by Southwest Interactive" which he described thusly: The mardi gras of the online world. Anyone who's doing anything interesting online is there. I've spoken there the last 2 years. You so should go. I'll introduce you to everyone. I couldn't make it to SXSW 2005, but when 2006 rolled around, I sent Kevin a followup asking if he still thought this was a place I needed to be. He did and reminded me that he would "introduce me to everyone." So I went, and Kevin indeed introduced me to everyone, extending his group dinner plans, letting me tag along to cool parties and funky storytelling events, breaking bread with brad and more. During that first SXSW danah boyd played a similar role. They were my SXSW big brother and big sister, and through them I met amazing humans like lynne d johnson and George Kelly and too many to name right here. I exited the conference/convention/pilgrimage/BBQ pit with a recommitment to these digital arts and an extended family of beautiful, world-changing geeks. Every time I return, it's a family reunion. Every time I return, I get a little less stressed about having the latest app, getting into the hottest party or attending the buzziest (yes, buzziest) session. I want you to try to keep that spirit in mind as you review my very short list items for your consideration at SXSW Interactive. Video!   
Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am

Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am

Mi gente,

This is some of the best art, comedy, video, creation I've seen ever. Watch all three, and stay tuned to Mr. Deshawn Raw. h/t to my man jrm4 over ag Golden Era Rap for the post which raised my awareness of this greatness. 

Really, you have to watch all three videos right now. You'll be a better person for it. I am a good judge of art things, but I'm not a rapper...

Part 1


The Challenger


Part 2

Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am

Alabama's fans are one of the strongest reasons I like this team so much. Check out one of my favorite YouTube videos of all time. As a bit of an historical reminder. Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer is essentially responsible for four years of NCAA sanctions against Bama as he was the secret witness in a case against the school.

Point is, ROLL TIDE!

Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am

Udpate: I used to have a slideshow of all the tweets embedded here, but Storify doesn't work well with Vine, and the Marco Rubio gulp was running on loop forever and ever. It was scaring and scarring the children. I removed it. You can see my twitter recap here on Storify

Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am

Danielle Belton and I were on the same panel at the National Association of Black Journalists conference in Philly last week. I got inspired and rattled off this little jingle for her site, The Black Snob, based on "Bad Boys." Keep up the great work, Danielle!

Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am

Sentient City Survival Kit - Quick Start Guide from mark shepard on Vimeo.

A users guide to the Sentient City Survival Kit. I'm at the Idea Festival in Louisville, KY, and this just blew my mind. It's a pro civili liberties, comedic, artistic response to our likely super surveilled and optimized future urban spaces. 

Sunday, April 5, 2020 - 10:36am

It's my first NABJ, and it's so far so good. I had no idea there were so many black journalists! And by and large, they're amazingly attractive. Like, really. Everyone here looks good. 

I'm on a panel today on the subject of politics and race. Hopefully I can think of something to say though I'm still figuring out the get paid part, but who isn't? 


Room 121C // 2:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. 

When President Obama had to produce his birth certificate for Donald Trump, political comedians hired themselves to trump, Trump. Whether serious or through satire, delivering political news is an art. This entrepreneurial panel shares how to use your journalistic skills to create a political enterprise for capital gain.

  • Moderator: Roland Martin, CNN and TV One 
  • Baratunde Thurston, The Onion and 
  • Danielle Belton, The BlackSnob 
  • Toure X, Author of "Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? A Look At What It Means To Be Black Now.”
  • Melissa Harris-Perry, Professor, Tulane University



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.