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You Can't Touch My Hair
Cover of You Can't Touch My Hair
You Can't Touch My Hair
And Other Things I Still Have to Explain
A NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • “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
A hilarious and timely essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from comedy superstar and 2 Dope Queens podcaster Phoebe Robinson
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 humor and heart, announcing Robinson as a writer on the rise.
One of Glamour's “Top 10 Books of 2016”

A NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • “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
A hilarious and timely essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from comedy superstar and 2 Dope Queens podcaster Phoebe Robinson
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 humor and heart, announcing Robinson as a writer on the rise.
One of Glamour's “Top 10 Books of 2016”

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Excerpts-
  • From the book ***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***

    Copyright © 2016 Phoebe Robinson

    FOREWORD

     

    Work wife (n): That person at your job (same or op- posite sex) that takes the place of your “at home” spouse while you are at work (this is not a sexual rela- tionship). You talk with, connect to, and relate to this person as good as or better than you do your “at home” spouse with regards to all things work-related. (Source: www.UrbanDictionary.com)

     

    Phoebe Robinson is my work wife. We’ve been official for about two years now, ever since we met on a field piece I was shooting for The Daily Show, which led to us starting our live show and podcast, 2 Dope Queens. Even though our careers keep us busy, I am happy to report that our relation- ship is still going strong. Phoebe still texts me pictures of Bono about once a week and asks me if I would “smash” him. (My answer is still, “Fuck no, never in a million years.”) She still refers to me as either her Oprah or her Gayle depending on what kind of day we are having. She still tells terrible dudes at bars that insist on having shitty conversations with us to Please buzz off. I’m in my thirties. She always says, My eggs are dying. I don’t have time to hang out with any- body that I don’t want to. Fair enough. And even though Phoebe is only thirty-one, and I am twenty-six, she still insists on giving me the most weathered advice possible, as if she has seen some shit. Advice like: “Doggy style is a great position to have sex in, that way you can have a little bit of you time. You can get some work done, you can think about your taxes or about what groceries you need to get tomorrow. . . .” She somehow manages to say this with all of the wisdom and strength of Cicely Tyson. That’s Phoebe, though.

    When I first met Phoebe, she introduced herself to me, but she didn’t even have to—I had already known about her because she was a black lady involved with Upright Citizens Brigade, who also mostly dated white dudes. I could blame my previous knowledge of her on the fact that UCB is a small community, but I ain’t gotta lie to kick it. I had low-key stalked her before meeting her that day. Anyway, she didn’t pick up any red flags from me, so she invited me to cohost her monthly live show, “Blaria,” at UCB. Our first show together was like a great first date. I found out onstage that night that Phoebe was able to vocalize things that were deeply important to me. That being a black woman and a feminist is a full-time job. Like, #fuckthepatriarchy even though we both usually date white dudes who look vitamin D deficient and probably burn in the sun too easily. That black lives do matter. And that we You Can’t Touch My Hair both think that Carrie Bradshaw was a fucking stupid idiot for breaking up with Aiden for Mr. Big. Like, really? The man is a carpenter; he could literally make her furniture. And he even bought the apartment next door to hers so he could com- bine the two. The man wanted to MacGyver her living space! I think I can speak on behalf of all straight women every- where when I say, “Hi, hello! Sign me up for that, please!” Clearly, Phoebe and I were bonding at a rapid pace and, after the show, I knew that being friends with and performing with Phoebe Robinson was good for my soul and I wanted to continue to do that as much as I could. This is how our podcast 2 Dope Queens was born.

    Phoebe’s ability to talk about the importance of bell hooks as well as her...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 25, 2016
    Robinson, a stand-up comedian and host of the WNYC podcast 2 Dope Queens, brings a funny and original voice to her debut book of essays, combining personal experience with social commentary on race, gender, and pop culture. Moving, poignant, witty, and funny, Robinson takes on America’s “tumultuous” relationship with African-American hair, providing a history of black hair on the stage and screen as well as her own relationship with her hair (she didn’t go natural until after she finished high school). In other essays, she rants about the way the NFL treats women, discusses the demands she’d make on the first female U.S. president, and explains how to avoid being the token black friend. Robinson reveals how she uses her humor to survive the indignities that go along with being black in America, such as being followed around while shopping in stores or being called “uppity” for expressing her wishes to a white director. This is a promising debut by a talented, genuinely funny writer.

  • Kirkus

    A black female comedian lays it all out there.Stand-up comic and co-star of the WNYC podcast 2 Dope Girls, Robinson has a lot to complain about, starting with the need people have to touch her hair. In case readers fail to pick up on her humorous vibes regarding hair, the author includes a second chapter on the history of black hair in film, TV, and other media. Throughout the book--a hybrid of humor, truth-telling, and poking-fun-at-life-in-general--Robinson delves into what it means to be a woman and black and, more importantly, a black woman in today's American society. Filled with references to pop culture and plenty of hashtags, the narrative addresses issues like how to avoid being the one black friend in a group of white people, the difficulty of being hired to play a role in a show because you're either too black or too light, and why NFL players need to treat women better. She gives readers her list of nine guilty pleasures (No. 1: "Ranking Members of U2 in the Order of Whom I Want to Sleep With"; The Edge is first) and a list of demands for a future female president, including penalizing those who perpetuate the thigh-gap obsession. She also explains why "Lisa Bonet is Bae. Queen. Jesus" and waxes poetic on why she takes her laundry home to her parents' house. "If a person were to play [the dryer] in a movie--don't ask me why--it would be played by Meryl Streep," she writes. "The dryer is that damn good." Although the humor is forced and tiresome in places, Robinson does hit the mark on some important issues, and fans of her podcast will enjoy the book. Up-and-down humor that sometimes gets to the heart of the realities of being black in America. COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    September 15, 2016

    Blending memoir and social commentary, this debut book by comedian, writer, and actress Robinson (cohost of the podcast 2 Dope Queens) reflects on pop culture and modern black womanhood. From the hot combs of her childhood to the transition to natural hair after high school, Robinson candidly shares her hair journey and reminds black women that our hair determines how we'll be treated. Robinson discusses icons of black hair (Grace Jones, Lisa Bonet, and Lupita Nyong'o, among others) and the greatest TV moment for black women thus far: Viola Davis removing her wig on How To Get Away With Murder. Refusing to believe in the idea of guilty pleasures, the author relays her love of U2, fan fiction, and WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) while explaining that blackness is not a monolith. "For people of color, having a strong sense of self often feels like a Sisyphean task every single day." To aid in self-care, she presents practical advice on how to avoid being "The Black Friend" and how not to internalize sexism and racism. Later chapters offer a critique of Hollywood casting calls and boast the benefits of online shopping. VERDICT A thought-provoking collection of essays that will find a welcome home among black women and general readers who appreciate the humor in everyday situations. [See "Editors' Fall Picks, LJ 9/1/16, p. 29.]--Stephanie Sendaula, Library Journal

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    October 15, 2016
    Robinson dates basic Chris Pinelooking dudes, goes to Billy Joel concerts, knows which member of U2 she would sleep with first (because she'd sleep with all of them), but don't think for a second she's anything but her authentic self, a blackity black black lady, with no diet version of me available. Known for podcasts 2 Dope Queens and Sooo Many White Dudes, she writes, acts, and does stand-up, too, and has lots to say about doing these things while being black and female. Riffy and plumb full of pop-culture references, LOL-worthy invented shorthand, and hilariously long-winded similes and metaphors, Robinson's nimble essay collection starts with her hair: how it has defined her and other people of color for ages, and also how you seriously can't touch it (ever). Robinson pays homage to the women who taught her to embrace her uniqueness and goes deep on racism encountered in her career and in media and society at-large. Skewering and laugh-out-loud funny, this collection will, thankfully, bring Robinson's voice to an even larger audience.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

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