As we all know, February is Black History Month. It’s a month where we honor those who have made an impact on American culture for equal rights, those who have invented, those who have a helped others and those who have inspired everyone to be the best they can be, not only as a person of color but as a human. For the past two years for Black History Month, I started an online series called 28 Days Diversity where I would feature someone new everyday during the month of February for just being awesome in their own right. Even though it’s black history month, the goal for 28 Days of Diversity is to feature not just African-Americans but other minorities in the web/tech space. Also note that 28 Days of Diversity is not a popularity contest or an influencer list but a list of thought leaders in the social web sector, including entrepreneurs, bloggers, conference organizers, IT professionals and friends not ranked in any particular order who I have either met in person or followed online. Each post will include a picture, bio, two links from the selected person and this paragraph.
For 2012 I wanted to not just feature individuals but also ask a question to where each featured person could share their passion with others. For 29 Days of Diversity 2012 each post/person will answer the question “What motivates you to become successful?”
For the next 29 days since 2012 is a leap, come back to visit SocialWayne.com/tag/28daysofdiversity and/or 28daysofdiversity.com to see who’s on the list. For day 13, I would like to introduce to some and present to others:
Book: How To Be Black
Baratunde Thurston is a technology-loving comedian from the future who cares enough about the world to engage with it politically. Yes, he votes. Regularly. With an ancestry that includes a great-grandfather who taught himself to read, a grandmother who was the first black employee at the U.S. Supreme Court building and a mother who took over radio stations in the name of the black liberation struggle, Baratunde has long been taught to question authority. It helps that he was raised in Washington, D.C. under crackhead Mayor Marion Barry.
His creative and inquisitive mind, forged by his mother’s lessons and polished by a philosophy degree from Harvard, have found expression in the pages of Vanity Fair and the The UK Independent, on the radio waves of WNYC, where he is a regular contributor and on the screens of news networks such as CNN, MSNBC, BBC, Al Jazeera English and This Week In Tech. He even hosted his own show on Discovery Science called Popular Science’s Future Of.
Far from simply appearing in media, Baratunde is also helping defining its future. In 2006 he co-founded Jack & Jill Politics, a black political blog whose coverage of the 2008 Democratic National Convention has been archived by the Library Of Congress. For the past four years, he has helped bring one of America’s finest journalistic institutions into the future, serving as Director of Digital for The Onion. In 2011 he was a judge for the Knight News Challenge, a media innovation contest which funds experiments in the future of news. His book, How To Be Black, will be published by Harper Collins in February 2012.
His most significant expression, however, is probably his own creative experimentation with new digital platforms. He was named Foursquare Mayor of the Year for holding a real-world rally to defend his virtual mayorship. Every year he live hate-tweets the Twilight movies to his 100,000+ Twitter followers, and in 2009, he embodied the swine flu with a Twitter account of that name.
His wide range of experience and activity has earned him an equally wide range of praise. The ACLU of Michigan honored him “for changing the political and social landscape one laugh at a time.” He was nominated for the Bill Hicks Award for Thought Provoking Comedy. The Root added him to its list of 100 most influential African Americans. Fast Company listed him as one of the 100 Most Creative People In Business. Then-candidate Barack Obama called him “someone I need to know,” and YouTube user “mooospot” referred to him as a “dumbass liberal crackhead welfare sucker.”
When he’s not staring at a glowing rectangle, Mr. Thurston, which he goes by near the end of his bio, travels the world, speaking and advising on the subjects of our digital future and storytelling, satire and democracy, and race and politics. In the past two years alone he has spoken at South by Southwest, Google Atmosphere, the Online News Association Conference, Netroots Nation, the Mashable Awards, Web 2.0 Expo, Personal Democracy Forum, Internet Week NY, Social Media Week, TribeCon, the ACLU Annual Dinner (Mass., Mich. and Okla.), Surf Summit 14 (Mexico), The AtlanTech Dinner (Paris), The FD Summit (Amsterdam) and Digital Directions (Australia). In May 2011, he spoke at the presidential palace in Tbilisi, Georgia (the country) on the role of satire in a healthy democracy.
Baratunde performs standup comedy regularly in New York City, resides in Brooklyn, lives on Twitter and has over 30 years experience being black
What motivates you to become successful?
You can follow the status of 29 Days of Diversity 2012 on http://28daysofdiversity.com, http://socialwayne.com/category/28-days-of-diversity/ and syndicated on BlackWeb 2.0.