You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson

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“Society doesn’t exactly make life terribly easy for black women – and yes, life is hard for everyone – but black women have their own unique battles, a Molotov cocktail of racism and sexism.”

I requested this on Edelweiss because I love funny-lady-memoir books, and ones by WOC are especially hard to come by, so thanks so much to PRH for approving my request! And it’s a double-win, because Phoebe Robinson is going to be at Book Riot Live and now I am extra psyched to possibly meet her in person. (We’ll see how that goes, I’m shy.)

The range of topics in these essays is broad, but man I hope she writes more books because I could read her thoughts on all the things. She’s hilarious and goes off on weird rambling tangents and it’s awesome. Basically, if you like funny-lady books and are even mildly interested in commentary on race and gender, then you’ll enjoy this much. And if you don’t get why you shouldn’t be touching (or asking to touch) a black person’s hair, then you desperately need to read this and many more books. This might be a good starting point.

Fave parts!

  • Why she loves boats.
  • When she talks about her Not-So-Guilty Pleasures and is talking about the famous dudes she’d like to sleep with, and this comes up: “Sure, he’s got biceps and triceps for days. Of course, eing incredibly talented at banging on drums all day means that he is most likely to put his thing down, flip it, and reverse it. But his name is Larry. Y’all. I can’t call out “Larry” during sex. I’m not about that life.”
  • She talks about the hyper-awareness that all black people live with and how exhausting that is.
  • She writes a list of demands to the First Female President, which includes forcing the world to become comfortable with the word “vagina”.
  • She TEARS APART the white lesbian couple who sued the sperm bank they used for giving them a black baby, because having a black child made their lives hard, partly because they live in a racist neighborhood. I enjoyed her critique of those women SO HARD.
  • She talks about coded language, which is often racist but white people will cling to it and claim that their use of those words in that context wasn’t racist. (AKA, that co-worker who told me to avoid a certain suburban apartment complex because it was “ghetto”. What she meant was that there were a lot of non-white people living there. That’s it.) “Coded language allows the speaker to deny any sort of responsibility unless their back is against the wall, in which they’ll generally offer up a paltry ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’ non-apology.”
  • Her speaking about the movie Kingsman and how the ending was just stupid and ridiculous. (And I agree, it kind of ruined the whole tone of the movie.)

Go get it and go read it! And then go on YouTube and watch her Woke Bae videos, which are delightful.

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9 comments

  1. This does sound good! I had several guidance counselors as a girl who made us all say the proper words for sex organs in long and loving tones. We had to do it over and over until nobody giggled so, I mean, I’m basically ready to run for president now. :p

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  2. I got this on Netgalley but the file was such a mess, I couldn’t handle trying to read it. I’ll have to check it out later, or better yet, listen to the audiobook. 🙂

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