Chapter 37
Heard at a "Race and Technology" seminar

Baratunde Thurston invades the Harvard Philosophy Department

Baratunde Thurston, author of How to Be Black and former digital director of The Onion, spoke at a seminar in a series on "Race and Technology" recently. Some comments and observations.

  • When he was growing up, there were no Saturday morning cartoons on the TV. There were books instead. When he was about age eight, he read his first book, This is Apartheid, with his Cocoa Puffs.
  • His father was murdered when he was six. He was raised by a single mom in DC. She made dinner for others, but her kids got peanut butter and jelly. The good stuff was to make money for the house down payment. Later, she became a COBOL programmer.
  • He was the first online editor of the Harvard Crimson and then digital editor of The Onion. He left The Onion in 2012 to found Cultivated Wit.
  • He's a news junkie, and self-righteous about it.
  • You can't control people's interpretations of anything you produce.
  • A big fan of [containing many rants about the stupidity of Congress in general and the government shutdown in particular].
  • Blacks and Latinos use Twitter twice as much as whites do. Sometimes it's called Black Twitter or "blitter."
  • The Onion ran a (satirical, false, fictional, made-up) story entitled "Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex" and some idiots believed it, including an idiot Republican Congressman. How do these people get elected?
  • Can black girls code? There are lots of initiatives in that direction:,, the Level Playing Field Institute,, etc.