Baratunde Rafiq Thurston

320px baratunde thurston at roflcon ii
author of the NYT best-seller #HowToBeBlack

Hosted AMAs

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baratunde131 karma

i thought i might, especially from black republicans on-site, but the opposite was the case. they don't live in a total denial bubble and understand that the two percent black makeup of the GOP is terribly low. they were amused at the count, which made me feel good because it was a reminder that they're actual PEOPLE and not just distant ideas i dislike

best example of this was my interview with super black republican (super republican, not that he's more black than other black folk!) Paris Dennard

he ran african american outreach for George W Bush

baratunde108 karma

Keep the faith people. Other things happen in life outside of AMA, and there's a hurricane effect, no power, choppy Internet, etc. I said I'd be back, and I am.

Now then...

There are several reasons I support the president for a second term. There are also reasons I OPPOSE Romney for a first term, but I'll focus on the former. Before I get fully into it, I just will dig into your comment a bit in parts.

you wrote: "I can't help but think that because he's black he gets the black support other than support from people(Regardless of race) that know and agree with his policies."

So I'm in the camp of people that know and agree with his policies, which seems to me a great reason to support a politician. In fact, it's the BESt reason! :)

you wrote: "I know its wrong, but I haven't seen him really do anything for the people that got him in office."

Here are a few things the president has done that I especially appreciate

  • Obamacare. Getting this nation closer to universal healthcare than any president ever has is an historic accomplishment. Young people get to keep insurance until age 26 under their parents. Women can no longer get overcharged by insurance companies than men for the same plan. Limitations on pre-existing conditions are going away. this is an EPIC WIN in terms of healthcare and economics for the entire nation. I cannot overstate it: where president after president has failed, Obama prevailed to the benefit of everyone. Please don't think of this as anything other than a massive victory

  • Took actions that brought the economy back from the brink. If you listen to political news a lot, this will sound repetitive, but I'm guessing you don't so I'll risk repeating. We were losing over 800,000 jobs a month when the president took office. Wall street was in a spiral. Detroit was about to go out of business for good. He took corrective measures through the stimulus, auto, and bank bailouts that did more than stop the bleeding. For the record, I think the government as a whole should have done more to alleviate the housing crisis and invest in infrastructure projects, but there's no doubt that the president's actions helped us avoid true calamity. What we've experienced these past few years hasn't been great, but it's been so much better than where we were headed, and we need to keep going in that direction. Again, this counts BIG on my list of things the president has "done."

  • Reformed student loans. Cut banks and their profits out of the system so more money goes to actual education. As someone who recently paid off his loans, this is huge.

  • First act was to pass the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay act so that women have a better chance at earning the same pay as men for the same job. It's generally 77 cents on the dollar, and that's not a women's issue. That's an economic issue and a family issue.

  • Ended the war in Iraq which should never have been started in the first place.

  • Helped restore respect for us abroad. His first overseas address was in Cairo. He spoke directly to the muslim world, and I know folks in the area who said that address changed a lot of attitudes and inspired many who were behind the Tahrir Sq protests that overthrew Mubarak. This is huge.

  • support for innovation. the way this white house has used technology to engage with the public. the amount of data we have on how the government works (we actually can follow ALL the stimulus money, which is unheard of), and the way the administration has supported entrepreneurship is actually near revolutionary. I'm a geek/nerd and entrepreneur now, and this counts massively. More here:

i think the president's job is about more than only helping people who elected him. It's about leading the nation, and overall, I'm really happy with how Obama has done that and even moreso when you consider what a mess the last president left the nation in. Just the sampling above has been good for ALL Americans, even those who did not vote for him. That's the test. Plus, if he only worked for people who supported him, he'd be a massive asshole.

As for Chicago, there's very little direct action a U.S. president can take to reduce violence in a particular city, so I don't hold him responsible for the tragedies there. On a wider level, a president can try to set priorities and actions that provide opportunities and a future for the young folks at the heart of the violence and for their parents, and this president has done that more than his opponent might have

You can search for things like List Of Obama Accomplishments and find campaigners, journalists, etc who have itemized the specific things this president has done. I've listed a few that stood out to me, but let me just say on a more general and personal note....

We have a great president. He's not perfect, and I don't support or approve of everything he's done (skynet drone warfare what's up!!?), and I wish he would prioritize things not discussed (ahem, we can't imprison EVERYONE), but I don't expect perfection from any president. I expect intelligence, competence, effective staffing of government positions by people who won't sell the job to the highest corporate bidder, empathy, and judgment. This dude has all that and then some.

I don't think Romney is a bad person, but I know he would not do nearly the quality of job as the guy currently behind the wheel. Also, you need to have some GREAT reasons to fire a sitting president. He's got to be truly terrible or the other candidate has got to be demonstrably better, and I think neither condition is met in this election.

We have a great president. His opponent is not nearly as good. These are our choices. I happily choose Obama.

Also, he's black, but that is SO LOW on the list.


baratunde64 karma

i do not. I don't like using hacks to shut up idiots. I'd prefer if a) they just shut up on their own because they realize that their inner sadness cannot be satisfied by lashing out irrationally at the world or b) no one listens.

when it comes to trump the great tragedy for me isn't that he has twitter followers. after all, empty chairs have twitter followers. no, i am just very disappointed in people with power who feel no hesitation or shame in associating themselves with this poisonous clown.

included in that set are: NBC, Mitt Romney, many republicans, business people and others who not only SHOULD but actually DO know better.

they're all feeding the troll

baratunde55 karma

My name is Baratunde, and I approve this message.

baratunde53 karma


1a. strangest to write "The U.S. Propaganda Machine: A Middle School Paper" I found an old essay I wrote in 8th grade after I'd been reading a lot of Marcus Garvey. I was attending Sidwell Friends School (great private school in DC) and had only been there one year. I decided it made sense to write a scathing critique of America and white people in general as if I were the leader of all black people. this HAD to go in the book, but it was strange reliving that experience

1b. hardest. the chapter about my father's murder. i didn't expect to include anything like that when the book was initially sold to Harper

  1. funniest article I wrote that people actually believed so I didn't write very many articles for the onion. my full time job was Politics Editor (for a while) and Director of Digital which meant I did all sorts of things to bring the onion into the future. this is the FIRST thing I ever wrote for the onion,6332/

and i can't remember all the headlines I wrote that made it through, but they were heavily political

the most MEMORABLE contributions I made there include having our digital team make a playable version of Close Range (,14325/) and getting #horsemasturbation to be a trending topic on twitter, all in service of Onion SportsDome on comedy central

  1. (I'm correcting your numbering system) I will be on TWIT. THIS SUNDAY! Live in studio in Petaluma with Nick Bilton! I'm also doing a big event Saturday afternoon in SF for those in the area

baratunde50 karma

you're that person at a conference who stands up to ask a question and then breaks out a notepad with like 10 questions and three statements on it aren't you? :)

  1. I first heard of the Spruth from an old comic in Boston. It is only whispered about within comic communities, lest mentioning it pushes it further out of reach. When I reach the Spruth, and I will, you will know it. Everyone will know it

  2. 2.0116. and i would not fall because i have wide feet and am pretty good at keeping my balance

  3. so many things. mostly funny things. lately i've been laughing a LOT at The Eric Andre show and just running on loop the No Moleste joke by Tig Notaro.

baratunde40 karma

it's increasing! and that's mostly cool and occasionally awkward / embarrassing. on the plus side, i was recognized in London last week just walking down the street. dude was like, "I follow you on Twitter," and I responded, "Great, please let's keep the following part to the online realm."

Where it's odd are times I forget that I CAN be recognized, and I'll see a tweet in which someone says something like "just spotted baratunde. he ordered a latte." I'm like YO, JUST SAY HELLO TO MY FACE AREA!

baratunde37 karma

i think the market we see doesn't fully reflect the range of styles and ideas out there. for decades, "black comedy" was promoted as a very specific kind of voice, style, etc.

so on the whole, i'm not sure i buy that "black comics" are more into situational than satire any more than other comics are. i have no pure data! :)

it's also possible that the situations described by many black comics may meet the threshold of absurdity more easily than that of other people and thus gets closer to the realm of satire on its own, but that's just me making things up now

baratunde28 karma

i'm only doing this IAmA because I'm black.

baratunde25 karma

great question. i'm taking a pause and want to give you the depth of response you deserve. gotta eat some lunch though cause i forgot breakfast! thanks all BRB