I finished reading this provocatively-titled book a couple of days ago. I expected Baratunde Thurston’s memoir to have its funny moments (he worked for The Onion until recently) and it did. I was not expecting the deep insights about black identity I found throughout the book. I also wasn’t expecting to see as much of myself in the author (beyond the unpleasant childhood experiences I had as a result of not fitting the stereotypes of what black kids are supposed to do and be). It was a pleasant surprise to discover that Thurston and I have Washington Post internships in common (as does my friend Sandro, one of the handful of other black computer scientists I know).
I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that Thurston’s interest in technology was inspired (at least in part) by his mother, who made a living writing COBOL for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. One of the other technologists that blogs whom I admire greatly, raganwald, was inspired into his career by his mother as well.
If you enjoy stories about people destroying stereotypes in general (or stereotypes of black people in particular), How to Be Black is well worth reading.