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My first experience "live-writing" a #HowToBeBlack chapter for all to see

Last night, I shared my screen with the world, and I allowed people to get a writer's-eye view as I completed one of my chapters for my book, How To Be Black.

I'm Mister Digital Interactivity, but even for me, this was a big step. Prior to this, I'd experimented with a few interactive digital bits outside of the book's core content. In part, the book itself even exists because of a hashtag battle I started with Elon James White over the #HowBlackAreYou hashtag. I spoke about this battle in a talk I gave at Web 2.0 which earned me a meeting with my now-publisher, Harper Collins. Since then, I've tapped my online networks to help with photo shoots, and I've shared full, rough chapters to my email list and excerpts to Facebook and Google+, but I had never let anyone in on the actual writing process, until last night.


Olympic Profile In Courage: Yevgeny Krispykremakov

Yevgeny Krispykremakov is not your average world class athlete, but that's part of what makes him one of the best. You see, Yevgeny was raised by a pack of wild wolves in the Himalayan Mountains. For the first 10 years of his life, "Krispy" as his wolf family calls him, had no human contact. He hunted with the wolves, slept with the wolves and yes, he even danced with the wolves. There's a rumor floating around Chechnya that Krispy even sired a litter of wolfmen during his crazier days. It was this wolf life, walking around on all fours, which gave Krispy his low center of gravity and made him the envy of the competitive downhill skiing world.

On his 11th birthday, Krispy could no longer be satisfied living on the lamb, both literally and figuratively. After his adoptive father and uncle were poached by fur traders, Krispy decided that he would leave the pack behind and search for his real, human, parents. In order to keep up with his wolf family on hunts, Krispy had devised a primitive form of what we in the civilized world call skis. And it was on these "skis" that Krispy set out on June 3, 1905.

For 80 years Krispy skied from mountain to mountain in search of his roots. He evaded many a hunter who sought the legendary wolf-man. He survived the concentration camps at Auschwitz as well as both atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. When he wasn't enduring the worst suffering inflicted by man this century, Krispy was busy clearing mine fields in half a dozen war-torn countries around the world.

My Daily Beast Sidwell Blog Post Picked Up By Anderson Cooper Blog

How many times can I use the word "blog" in the title of this blog post? Anyway, I forgot to post this on my own site, so for reference and bragging rights, I wrote an oped at The Daily Beast about my life at Sidwell Friends, with advice to the Obama parents. It was shortly picked up by the Anderson Cooper 360 blog. Hooray for blogging! Note, the comments on both sites really seem to have been made by people who are not that smart nor observant.

We rejected so much history and so many rules that have bound us. We rejected fear

cross-posted to Jack & Jill Politics This morning, I was finally able to process my emotions and express them as words. Here is what I wrote for the UK's Independent newspaper. We rejected so much history and so many rules that have bound us. We rejected fear comment by Baratunde Thurston, Thursday 6 November 2008 I cannot stop crying. I am stunned. Barack Obama is the next president of the United States of America, and I cannot stop crying. America closed the deal. Yes, we did. It is hard to focus right now. My mind is traveling sporadically through space and time. Large moments and small are mixing. I am in South Dallas, Texas, being hugged by the elderly black election judge I met during the primaries. I am six years old and have just learnt to swim. I am cheering with my Dominican barbers. I am being called a nigger by white children on a camping trip in my youth. I am standing on Goree Island in Senegal, the final resting place of so many of my ancestors and the birthplace of my own possibility. I am shaking Barack Obama's hand in August 2006. I am trembling at my mother's bedside moments after she passed away in October 2005. I am exhausted. I am restless. I am America. This is happening. We shook the world. We won. Last night, at five past 11, a collective roar made its way across living rooms and restaurants and the streets of cities and towns. Strangers sought each other out to hug one another and share in this moment. At my own watch party, chants of "Yes we can!" gave way to chants of "Holy shit", and the transformational nature of the moment was sealed when I gave my New York City cab-driver an Obama button and he gave me a free ride. And what a ride this has been. The manner of this campaign is as important as its ultimate outcome. Grassroots organising met peer-to-peer networked technologies, learned from old school campaigning and was remixed through new school art. And it won. We won! Our new president. Our new president, Barack Hussein Obama, truly represents us, America and the world. He is Kenya and Hawaii. He is Chicago and Kansas, and through his gifts, his timing and his good fortune, we have risen to a great occasion. This campaign was a fire that forged a president and a people, and we have emerged stronger for the trial. It is not simply that we chose an African American or a Democrat for our first post-baby boom leader, although those are all significant milestones. It is not simply that we chose a communicator and scholar and a man who so clearly demonstrates family values through the love and respect he shows his wife and daughters, although those too are significant milestones. It is not simply that we chose, but also that we rejected. We rejected smears and race-baiting and Muslim-baiting and desperation. We rejected so much history and so many rules that have bound us to the way things have been and are supposed to be. We rejected fear. Most importantly, we rejected fear. Our better angels prevailed for one critical moment which can and will change forever the moments to follow. We said resoundingly that we are not afraid. We are not afraid of the world out there. We are not afraid of ourselves. In rejecting that fear, we have shed something awful, at least for a time, and in so doing we have liberated ourselves. I am still crying, but they are tears of possibility for all that we are free to do and free to be. Yes, we did.

My Comment Piece In The UK Independent On Obama's Ability To Unify

Full piece here Excerpt:
The polling is clear. Obama has a steady national lead. More importantly, he is leading in the handful of states whose electoral votes actually matter including four states that voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. John McCain had hoped to make California competitive. Instead he finds himself ahead by only two points in his home state of Arizona, forced to commit resources and to start running deceptive automated phone calls in a desperate attempt to prevent an embarrassing loss. Assuming he wins, what can we expect from Barack Obama. Can he unite the country as he's promised? He will have his work cut out. The divisions in America run deep racially and politically, but there can and will be progress, if not total resolution. A friend and fellow comedian who produces a video series called "This Week In Blackness" spoke with me about the oft-repeated concept of a "post-racial" America. The notion is that we will have won the War On Racism by electing Obama and once and for all healed America's racial divide. Claims of employment discrimination, systematic imprisonment and economic segregation could be met with, "But you have a black president." The country could finally move on to more pressing matters, like selecting the next flavour of Coca Cola. This simple resolution will not happen. In fact, Obama's mere candidacy (and the reaction of his opponents to it) have exacerbated that racial divide in small but poignant ways. Obama has tapped into hope, but he has also triggered a backlash of fear from the more ignorant realms of our society.
As usual, Bring it for Barack