Baratunde Thurston, a writer and cultural critic known for his work on race, technology, and comedy, found himself in an unexpected position as the host of the PBS nature series, “America Outdoors With Baratunde Thurston.” Despite his background, Thurston saw an opportunity for representation as a Black person hosting a show about the outdoors. The second season of the show, which focuses on the people who live, work, and play in nature, is set to premiere on September 6th. Thurston’s adventures include swimming and jet skiing on the Suwannee River, riding with cowboys in Oregon, harvesting ice in Maine, and even turkey hunting in New Mexico, although without much success.
In a conversation, Thurston shared some of his favorite things and experiences. He expressed admiration for librarians and the invaluable role they play in defending our liberties and the importance of public libraries as democratic spaces. He also raved about Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, particularly the Blackout Chocolate Cake flavor, which he described as a delicious indulgence that can help process feelings when society tends toward fascism.
Thurston also emphasized his commitment to sustainable practices, including his use of a Hydro Flask water bottle to avoid single-use plastic bottles. He even judges hotels based on whether they have water refilling stations. Additionally, Thurston highlighted the significance of safe spaces like King’s Corner, where men, particularly Black men, can openly express vulnerability and support one another.
The topic of water holds personal significance for Thurston. He shared how his family tradition of visiting bodies of water during Thanksgiving became more poignant when he took his terminally ill mother to Astoria Beach in Oregon as a final farewell. The ocean has a special place in his heart, and he feels compelled to touch it whenever he’s near.
Thurston also discussed his affinity for Lofi Study Beats, a genre of music that sets a relaxed and creative atmosphere. He enjoys watching videos that depict hypothetical gatherings of 1990s hip-hop stars, as it helps him open up his creativity. Composting is another passion of Thurston’s, as he sees it as a metaphor for the transformative power of taking seemingly useless things and turning them into something valuable, a symbolic gesture that can also be applied to human beings.
As for cocktails, Thurston recounted his eye-opening experience with an old fashioned, a classic drink that can be made with various spirits. He admonished those who add cherries, stating that it detracts from the cocktail’s simplicity. Moving on to Washington, D.C., Thurston celebrated the city for its unique Black culture and identity, its architecture, fashion, and love for go-go music, which he believes sets it apart from other cities like Los Angeles.
Lastly, Thurston praised adrienne maree brown, a highly intelligent and spiritually enlightened political organizer who emphasizes the importance of self-care during times of struggle. He draws parallels between her and his own mother, appreciating their shared understanding of rest’s power in the face of adversity.
In conclusion, Baratunde Thurston’s journey as the host of “America Outdoors With Baratunde Thurston” allows him to explore the diverse landscapes and people within nature. Beyond his television work, Thurston’s personal interests and experiences reveal his advocacy for inclusivity, sustainability, and the power of culture and community.