When a copy of You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson showed up at the door, I read a couple of pages.
Right from the introduction, I knew that I was going to love this book.
Robinson’s collection of essays on feminism, race and pop culture is compulsively readable and so, so relatable. She’s one of those writers whose authentic voice shines on every page – I could hear her speaking to me so clearly as I read. If you’ve ever listened to her podcast, 2 Dope Queens (that she co-hosts with Jessica Williams, formerly of The Daily Show), then I would guess you’d have a similar experience.
Robinson’s essays are littered with hashtags, slang, and amazing pop culture references. But don’t let that fool you – Robinson has some real stuff to say.
Essays include “Welcome to being Black” in which she talks about the experience of realizing that she’s somehow Other because of the colour of her skin and “How to Avoid Being the Black Friend” which covers advice like “Do Not Start Any Friendships with White People During the Summer Months”, “Call People out When They Say Unintentionally and Intentionally Racist Garbage” and “Take a Picture and See How Everyone Responds.”
Her essays are funny, obviously, but also not. There’s a story she includes where she was called “uppity”, how she once had to sit through a reading of a classmate’s play that involved a white woman falling in love with one of her female slaves and ended with the slave choosing to stay for love, rather than making a break for freedom (“no slave is ever, ever, ever, going to say yes to more slavery”), and about getting ignored at a Michaels when all she wanted to do was get a frame.
Honestly, there were times reading this book that made me want to shout. WHAT’S WRONG WITH PEOPLE????
Robinson’s book showcases a millennial black woman’s voice. She is so, so funny, and writes things that honestly make me laugh hysterically but then she calls me back by dropping a truth bomb that I can’t ignore.
If you’re looking for something to add to your Non-Fiction November roster, I would really recommend this. If you have listened to 2 Dope Queens and want more Phoebe Robinson in your life, I recommend this book. If you have no idea who Phoebe Robinson is, I recommend this book.
Thanks to Penguin Random House of Canada for an ARC of this book.