Baratunde Thurston

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Total student loan debt is more than $1.3 trillion dollars here in the US — but what does that actually mean? And what can we do to fix it? In the premiere episode of Clarify, a new series from Mic and Spotify, we tackle the student debt problem. Host Baratunde Thurston sat down with Diplo to talk how loans affected his life, as well as a panel of experts to break it all down. Watch the full episode.

How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston

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The Onion’s Baratunde Thurston shares his 30-plus years of expertise in being black, with helpful essays like “How to Be the Black Friend,” “How to Speak for All Black People,” “How To Celebrate Black History Month,” and more, in this satirical guide to race issues—written for black people and those who love them. Audacious, cunning, and razor-sharp, How to Be Black exposes the mass-media’s insidiously racist, monochromatic portrayal of black culture’s richness and variety. Fans of Stuff White People LikeThis Week in Blackness, and Ending Racism in About an Hour will be captivated, uplifted, incensed, and inspired by this hilarious and powerful attack on America’s blacklisting of black culture: Baratunde Thurston’s How to Be Black.  <book link

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How to Easily be a White Ally to Marginalized Communities – Medium

1. Be intolerant of intolerance
The first thing we have to do is make it clear that racism, discrimination, and intolerance are no longer values that we as a society will value. That means confronting other white people and making them feel marginalized for behaving in ways that do harm. You have to stand up against friends, relatives, and even strangers when you hear them saying racist or discriminatory things.
It’s not that hard; you say “What the hell is wrong with you?” and you walk away. One instance might not make a difference, but if it happens often enough, and if white racists learn that intolerance costs them social standing, they will eventually change — after all, the whole motive behind most white racism stems from loss of status.
The one exception is when you witness actual discrimination against another person. In those cases it is your responsibility to defend that person, not only by condemning the hate speech, but by staying with that marginalized person and treating them as an actual human being. You want to help people feel safe? Then forget your safety pin and do the work of actually helping people feel safe.

>2. Seek out marginalized voices and perspectives
Here’s a question: How many black people do you follow on Twitter? How many black authors do you read? If you’re like many white people, the answer is not very many. I know I didn’t for a long time; I had to make a conscious effort to change that.
America is a culture that segregates by race, sometimes intentionally but often as an unexpected consequence of our social tendencies. Social media makes this worse — we’ve all heard of the echo chamber effect at this point. The best way to break free of that is to proactively seek out voices you aren’t hearing from.
The great thing, though, is that once you start paying attention to people different from you, whether that’s people of color, LGBTQ people, Muslims, people with disabilities, Desi people, East Asians, etcetera, you will begin to encounter other new voices that you’ll appreciate. But you have to take that first step.
Here are a few people I would suggest following, who have helped to broaden my own exposure. You can find them on Twitter, or in longer form work if you’re not so much into Twitter. Just Google their names. This is not a comprehensive list, nor does it cover all communities, it’s just a good starting point in my opinion.
Deray McKesson; Roxane Gay; Shaun King; Baratunde Thurston; Raquel Cepeda; Rebecca Cohen; Xeni Jardin; Sara Yasin; Kumail Nanjiani; Anil Dash; Jamelle Bouie; Rembert Browne; Heidi Heilig; Ta-Nehisi Coates

3. Confront your racism and don’t be fragile
Here’s something I can promise, if you take my advice on #2 and start paying attention to more marginalized voices: You are going to encounter some opinions that will upset you. Some that might make you feel discriminated against, some that might even make you feel victimized by racism.
Don’t stop listening. Don’t tune out. Lean into your discomfort. Force yourself to consider other opinions, and understand why people might say something you find offensive. I’m not saying you can’t still disagree — in fact, the ability to respectfully disagree is itself a skill many Americans, especially White Americans, are not great at. So learn.
You’ll learn a lot of terms you might not have encountered before, among them “White Fragility.” This is a reference to the tendency among White people to take offense when they are called out for saying or doing something discriminatory or even racist. It’s that thing you may have noticed where some White people think “racist” is itself a discriminatory slur, and instead of listening and examining what about their behavior might be problematic they get offended and even demand an apology from the person they have offended.
So don’t be fragile. Your feelings might be hurt, sure. You might even be offended. But resist that urge, and make yourself listen. Lean into the discomfort. All of us are programmed by a culture that embeds racism, and if we are going to be allies we have to recognize we are all capable of racist actions — only by listening can we learn to do better.
And remember, you don’t have to AGREE with everything you hear, nor do you have to express your disagreement. You just have to listen to other people’s views and try to understand where they’re coming from.

Now is the time for black boys and men — and girls and women — to name and push against the tropes that justify the creation of public policies that result in the over-criminalization of black people . Our blackness is not a sign of criminality, cultural pathology or terror. We are not America’s collective threat.

“We all subsist on a diet of imagery and ideas about who we are that are imposed on us,” producer and author Baratunde Thurston stated during his #BlackMenSpeak interview. “We should represent Black people as people,” not threats.

Because people are acknowledged and respected. Threats are contained and extinguished. Black boys and men are people. But the consequences of being interpreted as dangerous in a country where we aren’t taught to make that distinction are plenty. This is why conversations among black boys and men are critical. #BlackMenSpeak is a start.

— Darnell L. Moore. Learn more about #BlackMeanSpeak

“A lot of white people like black people. They buy hip-hop, they watch black athletic and sports figures, and it’s superpopular — from jazz through hip-hop. Having a black friend is a mark of progressive success as a white person. And the black person is usually seen as their asset. It’s like: I’m cooler by proxy. … What black people get in the white community [is having] a covert operative behind enemy lines. You have a trusted source who can shuttle information back and forth. It’s like the Cold War. It’s a back channel that prevents race wars from blowing up. So if your white friend has a question about something, they can ask you, their trusted black friend, and you can feed them real or false information, depending on your purposes, but they don’t have to make an assumption or a leap that ends up in a more awkward, more public moment.”

– Baratunde Thurston on learning how important it is to have a black friend if you’re a white person, and vice versa

“Just over one year ago, I traded in my subway pass for Roxie, my pink Schwinn cruiser. She was given to me by my Dutch friend, Kirsten, who bought it off of a Brooklyn-based Haitian voodoo doctor whose colorblind son originally bought it thinking it was blue. One day I was riding through Brooklyn and a teenaged black boy yelled at me as I rode past, ‘Normally I would make fun of a dude riding a big pink bike, but your arms are so big, I don’t wanna mess with you.’”

Baratunde Thurston was photographed in New York City on June 27th. You can follow him on Twitter.

It was my first day at Sidwell. A black student who had been at the school for a really long time was assigned to be my buddy and adjust me to the environment. And he asked if I knew what an Oreo was. We were in the first stairwell of the upper-school building, in the southeast corner, I remember all this. And I really thought he was talking about cookies. I said, ‘Yeah, it’s the cream-filled cookie from Nabisco.’ And he’s like, 'No, no man. Oreo’s someone who is black on the outside and white on the inside.’ And then he made an example. He pointed to a kid across the way and said, 'That kid’s an Oreo.’ And I didn’t know the kid’s name at the time — I saw this nerdy black kid with glasses hanging out with white friends … And that was the first introduction of this concept, inauthentic blackness because you’re comfortable around whiteness.
A lot of white people like black people. They buy hip-hop, they watch black athletic and sports figures and it’s super popular — from jazz through hip-hop. Having a black friend is a mark of progressive success as a white person. And the black person is usually seen as their asset. It’s like: I’m cooler by proxy.
Are White People Voting for Mitt Romney Because He's White?

Hi, I’m Black. What’s up? Cool….

We’ve all seen a million blog posts and articles arguing that because Barack Obama is darker than a paper bag, Black people just cannot hold back their votey-lust for him. I’m not entirely sure why it’s okay to not only assume, but also defend that Black people are so ignorant about issues and so blindly loyal to a President with such a solid economic, diplomatic, and social issues track record–but that’s old news. Didn’t we cover this in 2008? I wanna talk about White people.

For the record, I mean White people as a whole. I could acknowledge that White people are individuals too and that they perhaps vote on issues that matter to them or for other …I could not care less about your individual White feelings in this context, because this is how you report on things in 2012… Just let me wax poetic about your entire race and why they vote the way they do. It goes a little something like this:

A brief overview of American History will tell you that we have had 43 White US Presidents. It will also tell you that we’ve only had 44 US Presidents. Under the premise that people simply vote based on race, I guess that means White people have a predilection for voting for other White people. Perhaps, then, the 11% of voters that are African American only really impacted the 2008 election because Barack Obama is actually half-white, thus getting 50% of the White Vote as well (this is just science based on nothing–like most blog posts about politics).

Or maybe, there is a secret bi-racial voting demographic that only voted for the first time in 2008, too.

Did you know that not one single Black person ever voted before the year 2008 (shhhh….who needs facts?). After all, you can’t vote for a Black person if no major political parties have a Black nominee. In a non-satirical article, this might be the part where you delve into the reason why there haven’t been any Black presidential nominees for a major party going into a November election prior to Barack Obama, and what greater meaning that voting for him might symbolize to the world as a whole…

Regardless, Mitt Romney may be the whitest presidential nominee we’ve ever seen. I literally saw a picture of him eating a mayonnaise sandwich just yesterday.* I can understand why that might wake up some of those White voters that remembered Obama’s White mama just 4 years ago. Maybe, they will switch their vote back to what is oh-so normal for people of different races. 

I think the bottom line is that people can pretty much vote for whatever reason they want. I think it’s much easier (albeit much more lamentable) to make assumptions about people who vote differently than you, who also look differently than you. Perhaps instead of wasting anymore time throwing race into every election with someone who hasn’t had a sunburn, perhaps it’s time to grow up and talk about the issues that really matter.

*It may have just been a guy that looked like Mitt Romney eating a mayonnaise sandwich. 

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Why are more Americans turning to fake news sources like ‘The Daily Show’ and 'The Colbert Report,’ as well as satirical rag 'The Onion?’

At the Fast Company Most Creative People in Business event last week, Onion editor Baratunde Thurston said that today’s real news is farcical, and the lack of trust is so great that the audience has decided to cut out the middle man (aka the mainstream media), and go straight to the source.