Image Description: book cover of You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson. The cover mostly consists of robin’s egg blue background, with title text and author text up the top of the book, in the foreground is a close-up head-shot of Phoebe Robinson with a serious expression on her face. Her hair is styled in a short-bob style two-toned afro that curls around her face.
Title: You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain
Author: Phoebe Robinson
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads
Publisher and Format: eBook from Plume
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
About the Author:
PHOEBE ROBINSON is a stand-up comedian, writer, and actress whom Vulture.com, Essence, and Esquire have named one of the top comedians to watch. She has appeared on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers and Last Call with Carson Daly; TBS’s Conan, Comedy Central’s Broad City, and @midnight with Chris Hardwick; as well recently landing a recurring role on the new Jill Soloway show for Amazon I Love Dick.
Robinson’s writing has been featured in The Village Voice, NY Mag, and on Glamour.com, TheDailyBeast.com, VanityFair.com, Vulture.com, and NYTimes.com. She was also a staff writer on MTV’s hit talking head show, Girl Code, as well as a consultant on season three of Broad City.
Most recently, she created and starred in Refinery29’s web series Woke Bae and, alongside Jessica Williams, formerly of The Daily Show, she is the creator and costar of the hit WNYC podcast 2 Dope Queens as well as the host of the critically-acclaimed WNYC podcast Sooo Many White Guys. Robinson is the author of the New York Times best-selling book, You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain, a collection of essays about race, gender, and pop culture. Robinson lives and performs stand-up in Brooklyn, NY, and is busy planning her upcoming nuptials to Michael Fassbender.
About the Book:
Being a black woman in America means contending with old prejudices and fresh absurdities every day. Comedian Phoebe Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: she’s been unceremoniously relegated to the role of “the black friend,” as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she’s been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel (“isn’t that . . . white people music?”); she’s been called “uppity” for having an opinion in the workplace; she’s been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she’s ready to take these topics to the page—and she’s going to make you laugh as she’s doing it.
Using her trademark wit alongside pop-culture references galore, Robinson explores everything from why Lisa Bonet is “Queen. Bae. Jesus,” to breaking down the terrible nature of casting calls, to giving her less-than-traditional advice to the future female president, and demanding that the NFL clean up its act, all told in the same conversational voice that launched her podcast, 2 Dope Queens, to the top spot on iTunes. As personal as it is political, You Can’t Touch My Hair examines our cultural climate and skewers our biases with humour and heart, announcing Robinson as a writer on the rise.
~Diverse Books Reading Challenge: While this novel does address a specific category of racism and microaggressions, the experiences of woman of colour who lives in New York and works as an actress/comedian, it is important that non-white people get the opportunity to share their experiences.
It’s also important for white people to recognise that racism and microaggressions can occur in multiple ways. It not always racial slurs, sometimes it’s white people pretending not to notice that you’ve been standing at the register for fifteen minutes or following you around the store to make sure you’re not shop-lifting.
~Exactly What It Says On The Tin: Phoebe Robinson explains thoroughly why you can’t touch her hair and other racial things people should know by now. Phoebe Robinson goes into detail the complicated relationship people of colour, and especially women of colour, have with their hair. That the choice to have natural hair could be a difficult decision with far reaching consequences.
While I was aware of the racial double-standards that can occur regarding people of colour and their hair, I hadn’t realised just how much time, money, and effort went into maintaining a “passable” or “acceptable” Level of hair presentation. I especially enjoyed the “The History of Hair” chapter.
~Let Me Entertain You: While the novel does dedicate a lot of space to racism in America, it’s not the only thing Phoebe Robinson talks about. My favourite chapters are the series of letters that Phoebe Robinson writes to her niece Olivia, which is kind of a funny coincidence as I also have a niece named Olivia, and I found some of the pearls of wisdom Phoebe Robinson wished to bestow upon her niece amusing and relatable.
In conclusion, due to the racial tensions currently occurring in the United States of America, I can’t help but feel that while this book is funny and engaging, it is also depressingly relevant. To be honest, a lot of the topics covered in the novel seemed obvious to me, but the fact that Phoebe Robinson felt the need to write an entire novel dedicated to these topics prove that it’s not obvious to everyone.