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You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain Paperback – October 4, 2016
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Featured in NPR Weekend Edition, New York Magazine, Refinery 29, Book Riot's "Best Books of 2016," and Cosmo.
"A must-read…Phoebe Robinson discusses race and feminism in such a funny, real, and specific way, it penetrates your brain and stays with you."
–Ilana Glazer, co-creator and co-star of Broad City
"Phoebe Robinson has a way of casually, candidly rough-housing with tough topics like race and sex and gender that makes you feel a little safer and a lot less alone. If something as wise and funny as You Can't Touch My Hair exists in the world, we can't all be doomed. Phoebe is my hero and this book is my wife."
–Lindy West, New York Times bestselling author of Shrill
"You Can't Touch My Hair is the book we need right now. Robinson makes us think about race and feminism in new ways, thanks to her whip-smart comedy and expert use of a pop culture reference. The future is very bright because Robinson and her book are in it."
–Jill Soloway, creator of Transparent
"Smart, funny, and insightful."
–Carrie Brownstein, New York Times bestselling author of Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
"Honest, touching, laugh-out-loud funny."
–Kevin Bacon, actor and musician
“A must read! So funny!"
–Danielle Brooks, Orange is the New Black actress
"You Can't Touch My Hair is one of the funniest books about race, dating, and Michael Fassbender. The world is burning, and Phoebe Robinson is the literary feminist savior we've been looking for."
–Hasan Minhaj, senior correspondent on The Daily Show
“Trenchant and hilarious”
–St. Vincent, musician
"Phoebe Robinson says the things that need to be said, and does so eloquently and hilariously."
–Mara Wilson, author of Where Am I Now?
"[Robinson’s] essays range from the political to the personal to the pop-cultural—sometimes encompassing all three at the same time … [with a] highly distinct, personable voice that makes you feel like she's your high-school BFF."
"[A] hilarious yet thought-provoking collection of essays … [Robinson’s] writing covers both serious (i.e. race, gender, etc.) and lighthearted (e.g. pop culture) issues, all with her unique flair. In a nutshell, her book is a grab bag of entertainment and insight."
"Insightful…one of the most promising nonfiction voices to emerge this year."
“[B]y sharing her less sublime experiences with her signature blend of honesty and humor we're used to from 2 Dope Queens…she offers amusing insights that don't come off as heavy-handed.”
"Moving, poignant, witty, and funny…a promising debut by a talented, genuinely funny writer."
“Uproarious…Robinson reflects on the annoying parts of black life in America with humor and soul.”
“You Can’t Touch My Hair achieves the impressive feat of being an accessible, fun read covering some serious issues; half of it is hilarious and the other half (see: the title) makes you think, 'It sucks this needs saying at all.'”
–The Portland Mercury
“[a] biting and hilarious debut.”
–Refinery29, "The Best Books Of 2016 So Far"
“[M]ore like a conversation than a set of essays — one that [Robinson] and many other people of color are sick of having. [Robinson] confronts critical subjects like the historical representations of black hair in media, problematic casting calls for people of color, and which member of U2 she’d like to sleep with in descending order of hotness. In other words, this is not a definitive tome on race and hair politics, nor is it trying to be. It is clear that Robinson’s comedy background is at the forefront of the collection. If she is going to have to have this conversation, she is going to do it on her own terms.”
– Los Angeles Review of Books
“Raw, authentic, and seriously funny...Robinson clearly is one of the most influential voices of her generation.”
– Bitch Media
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; Comedy Central’s Broad City, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and @midnight with Chris Hardwick; as well as the new Jill Soloway pilot for Amazon I Love Dick. Robinson’s writing has been featured in The Village Voice 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 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 new WNYC podcast Sooo Many White Guys. Robinson lives and performs stand-up in Brooklyn, NY, and you can read her weekly musings about race, gender, and pop culture on her blog, Blaria.com (aka Black Daria).
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Top Customer Reviews
By: Phoebe Robinson
I am a 52-year-old white woman and I have never asked a “POC” (person of color) if I could touch their hair. It’s just never occurred to me to do so. I mean, how weird is that? Imagine my surprise when my granddaughter—a 10-year-old bi-racial beauty—came home from (a predominately white) school recently and told me that her friends all “love touching my hair.” I asked, “why”. She said, “I don’t know. They think it’s cool I guess. Still…it made me feel weird.”
That was about three weeks ago. One week ago, I opened the People Magazine, to their book recommendations page, and saw Phoebe Robinson’s book, YOU CAN’T TOUCH MY HAIR AND OTHER THINGS I STILL HAVE TO EXPLAIN. I bought it without blinking.
As a woman, I’ve always assumed that ALL women shared—for the most part—the same kinds of experiences. I mean, we have all experienced the same physical experiences, right? And, as a group, we’ve all experienced the same kind of gender bias experiences. You know what I mean; the whole, “stand back and let the men handle this, little lady” thing. We’ve all been undervalued, underestimated and mis-understood. Right? Yes. However, what I guess I didn’t realize was that African-American women have had a whole other set of experiences… That makes me either ignorant, self-involved or just…unaware. Maybe a little bit of each?
I want to understand—as much as I can—what my granddaughter may have to face as she gets older.
Phoebe Robinson’s book, YOU CAN’T TOUCH MY HAIR AND OTHER THINGS I STILL HAVE TO EXPLAIN, opened my eyes to quite a few issues I never realized existed for women of color. I now know that my Lizzie might always have to have an answer ready for the question, “can I touch your hair”. She might always have to be “the token black friend”. She might always be subjected to stupidity, ignorance and oblivious obtuseness from silly white folka who just don’t get it. That sucks. But, I also now know that she’ll live through it, no matter how awful it might be and be stronger for it.
I’m glad I read Ms. Robinson’s book. I appreciate the new insight into my granddaughter’s possible future.
As far as the book and the writing within goes… This book is made up of a series of essays on the different issues a woman of color has or may face. As an older woman (translated not-hip, cool or with it), I didn’t appreciate the vulgarity in these essays—especially toward the end of the book where the last chapter was written as a series of letters to the author’s toddler niece, Olivia—this seemed not only unnecessary but also VERY inappropriate. I, too, am an aunt and would never talk to any of my nieces like that—and they’re all adults. Nor did I get many of the pop-culture references and/or all the abbreviations (POC, BPS, OBL, etc.). Again…I’m an old, white lady.
However, I understand that the author was just being herself.
This is an enlightening and titillating (if somewhat filthy) commentary on our world and the way it treats African American women and African Americans in general. It’s not flattering to white people. But, it’s real.
I would recommend it to anyone who needs to see life from someone else’s eyes.
The book is very funny, and I lol’d many a time while reading it, but Robinson is always quick to balance a self-deprecating joke with an insight about how she has to maneuver through this world a little differently than others. Robinson lays down truths that cut deep, but always follows them up with humor to balm the wounds, leaving you with perfect little emotional scars as reminders of how to go about being a better person, asking you to respect those different from you -- people who might not look like you, or who have been raised on the same planet but in different worlds. My struggles are not her struggles; her glass ceilings are probably thicker than mine. Robinson doesn’t leave you lost, however, and proactively informs instead of lectures, leaving you with a sense that if we maybe listen and absorb the words of others, no matter how different or outside our own experiences, we can use our understanding to grow compassion.
Robinson approaches all these deep topics with a conversational and true-to-life voice that feels like you're having a chat with her instead of reading words on a page. Her approachability in writing is part of what makes her so incredibly special. Robinson’s writing style is at once clever and ridiculous, & her mastery of the simile deserves a Pulitzer. Especially poignant is the hopeful chapter dedicated to her young niece Olivia, where Robinson gives advice to a girl growing up in a world that might not always appreciate her, but with Robinson’s steady tone of cautious optimism and humor. It is possible for social change to come through laughter.
Thank you, Phoebe Robinson, for the #DeepThoughts. Thank you for the conversations your book has helped me have. Thank you for standing in your truth and offering me the opportunity to stand with you.