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You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  20,250 ratings  ·  2,301 reviews
A hilarious and affecting essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from celebrated stand-up comedian and WNYC podcaster Phoebe Robinson.

Phoebe Robinson is a stand-up comic, which means that, often, her everyday experiences become points of comedic fodder. And as a black woman in America, she maintains, sometimes you need to have a sense of humor to deal with th
Paperback, 285 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Plume Books
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Jenna I would say definitely no. Colorful language and sex talk throughout.
Gretchen I don't know that the pace increases, but I think it would be harder to listen to than to read. Sentences are packed with pop culture and other refere…moreI don't know that the pace increases, but I think it would be harder to listen to than to read. Sentences are packed with pop culture and other references and I re-read a lot of them before I see the point she is making.
I just saw you asked this a year ago, but maybe my response will help someone. :-)
<9 minutes later> I just read several reviews that said they listened to the audio book and thought that was the way to go.(less)

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Petra-X has 81 books awaiting reviews
Is this book an American thing? It might be you have to be American to enjoy it, to get the references, like her particular brand of humour. Feel the catharsism of being berated for being racist although it's not your personal fault, if you are White but don't worry, she likes White people especially dudes. No matter how much you and everyone else might want this time to be Post-Racist, it can't be, Whites are holding it back. The author says that there are BPS, Black People's Secrets which are ...more
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I was inspired to read You Can't Touch My Hair at GR friend Taryn's suggestion as a counterpoint to Jodie Picoult's portrayal of Ruth in Great Small Things. I didn't know anything about Phoebe Robinson -- who I now know is a young writer, feminist, actor and comic -- but I'm glad I read her book of personal essays. She writes about her views and experiences of being an African American woman -- she writes about experiences as a student, in casting calls, on the set, shopping, dealing with her ha ...more
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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I just read Amy Schumer's GIRL WITH THE LOWER BACK TATTOO, and if you follow me, you'll remember that I had some complaints. Mainly that comedians, for whatever reason, write unfunny memoirs that are either a) self-promotional, b) long, shopping lists of gratitude, or c) boring & dry. It's like they have to prove a point - that they're not just the funny man or woman, they can be serious, just you watch. But...that's not why people are g
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone. Would Help If You are Heavily Into Pop Culture. Would Help If You Were American.
Case in point: One time, my compensation for doing a stand-up show was a vibrator with a computer-USB-cord charger, which I have refused to use till this day because I'm pretty sure a vibe teaming up with a laptop in order to power on is what Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was warning us about. 74

I have no idea who Phoebe Robinson is. I might have been exposed to her at some moment while reading BITCH, but if I was I have no memory of it.

This book might be a little hard to get into. Perhaps
Book Riot Community
This book had been on my radar since before it published in October of last year. A collection of personal essays that tackle issues of race and identity, it gave me a glimpse of racism as it is experienced by marginalized populations, in much the same way Claudia Rankine’s Citizen did. Except that, where Citizen was lyrical, a breathtaking work of prose poetry, Robinson’s book is knock-you-on-your-ass hysterical. Which makes sense, considering that Robinson is a stand-up comic with a resume tha ...more
Comedian Phoebe Robinson addresses race, gender, and pop culture in this collection of eleven humorous essays. Robinson is the creator and one of the hosts of the 2 Dope Queens podcast. She also has a series on YouTube called Woke Bae. I'm behind the times and had never encountered her work before! The foreword is written by 2 Dope Queens cohost and Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams, which is what made me interested in this book. It's not the typical celebrity memoir that I could breeze ...more
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: funny, america, essays, quirky, race
We may not be in a post racial society but I tell you what: when funky, funny Phoebe can tell us what white people do that makes her crazy, and why she doesn’t want to be anybody’s token black friend, I think we’ve moved the needle since the last century. I remember the first time an African man told me that the only pictures he’d had taken in his years of graduate school were those taken by a Singaporean man who knew how to get the camera to register his skin color and expression. Robinson says ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

I came upon this book when I went to the library’s website looking for an audio version of Tracy Morgan’s book which they did not have and they offered me this instead . . . .

I mean maybe just a lil’ bit. You would think there would be like 10,000,000 other former SNL cast member memoirs or middle-age stand-up comic bios to drop on me before a 30-year old podcaster, but whatever. I’m an easy sell so I downloaded it.

In case you co
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
You Can't Touch My Hair is a good representation of today's pop culture, one replete with hostages, movie and music references. While this made it interesting for about the first 30% of the book, I found it very difficult to continue after "Dear Future Female President." While Phoebe's comedy is hilarious in its honesty and rawness, I wish issues raised in the latter part of the book seemed more like "first world problems." Moreover, in some instances Phoebe came across as judgemental and whiny ...more
Jessica Woodbury
Phoebe Robinson's delivers more laughs per page than any other book of essays by a female comedian in recent memory. (Yes, I'm including Tina Fey. And Amy Poehler.) Not only that, she dispenses wisdom and tackles issues that go beyond the typical "being-a-woman-in-comedy-is-hard" thing a lot of these books do.

You know how sometimes you're reading the new Mindy Kaling book and she'll start talking about the realities of being a woman of color in entertainment and you think she's just about to st
I enjoyed this very smart and humorous book. This is not the stuff of Pulitzer, but I think Robinson has something here. I appreciated this book for the intelligent commentary on race and feminism and its youthful voice. The essays are uneven in quality that vacillate between utterly personal, emotional, intelligent and brilliant to sophmoric, juvenille and silly. Robinson is a standup comic and has a popular podcast that make fine use of both traits.

Overall I'm glad to have read the book and ha
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Forgive me for this, but can I just say I am Super First-World Frustrated that I didn't get to listen to an audio version of this book? I knew as soon as I read that Phoebe Robinson of the 2 Dope Queens podcast had a book coming out that I wanted it in audio. I mean, why wouldn't I? I've read a bunch of books this year by comedians, and there's nothing better than hearing their words straight from the horses' hilarious mouths. But every time I checked Amazon in the months leading up to release d ...more
Julie Ehlers
Jan 25, 2017 rated it liked it
This made some excellent points and I would not want to discourage anyone from reading it, but I think I was just not in the target audience, agewise. The relentless pop-culture references and meandering style made me feel like my brain was leaking out of my ears.
Brown Girl Reading
I started reading this in paperback and couldn't get into it. Allyn suggested I listen to it on audio and I have to be honest, it's the best way to stay interested in it. It should have only come out in audio. IT just doesn't work on paper. As a whole I liked but I didn't love it. She got me to smirk and shake my head Yes quite a bit but there was something that didn't win me over totally. If you're interested in this book and you're not familiar with pop culture, you should give this one a mss. ...more
Never Without a Book
Jun 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Not going to rate this one or give it a review. She sugar coated black girl struggles. 😑
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Let me start by saying that this title is everything. I have curly hair, and people ask to touch it ALL.The.TIME. As soon as I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. Phoebe Robinson is hilarious. I want to hang out with her, and I feel like she's my new literary best friend. This was a total blast, but a smart one filled with perspective and power. I switched between the audiobook and physical book,  and laughed out loud many times throughout. Nothing is better than listening to a comed ...more
Dec 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Phoebe Robinson is a comedian, actress and writer. Her work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Huffington Post and the New York Times. TV credits include NBC's Last Comic Standing, the Today show, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and Last Call with Carson Daly. You Can’t Touch My Hair is her first book and has been featured by Goodreads Choice Awards as one of the Best Humor Books of 2016 .

“But what will the White people think?”
Comical yet spot on in her delivery Robinson goes beyond merely illuminatin
In the sake of fairness, I should note that like Robinson, I think Lisa Bonet is the da bomb. I always loved Denise best, mostly because she was the oldest girl who was regularly on the Cosby Show. However, I do think it is interesting that Robinson slights as proof as Bonet's awesome ablitiy her husbands (Lennie Kratvitz and Jason Moma). Not that I blame her, and not that I am innocent of doing it. Perhaps that itself is proof about why feminism is so needed today.

The best essays in this collec
Taylor Reid
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Phoebe Robinson is so freakin funny. I laughed out loud multiple times.
Jan 13, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
DNF. I wanted to like this book so bad but just... couldn't. I didn't know Phoebe Robinson before borrowing this book from the library (audio and physical copies) but I was attracted to the title and cover. Quintessential black girl, right? The foreword by Jessica Williams seemed promising however, it just falls flat after about the first 50 pages. I thought I was going to be swimming in Dear White People-esque tales and truths but Ms. Robinson did NOT deliver. She is EXTRA and not in a good way ...more
Aug 10, 2016 rated it did not like it
"My driver looked like Villain #4 from the Taken movies, you know, just real Slavic AF" says the author who swears she would make white people rub her legs down with lotion as a greeting if she were queen of a country.

Maybe I'm not the right audience for a book that uses hashtags and laughs at its own jokes with an L to the O to the L, but I just couldn't get jiggy with Robinson's sense of humor. Not my cup of tea.
“Whenever someone tells you that you're doing XYZ like a girl, then you can whip out, "Thank you, hater, you're my motivator," and then go back to being XX chromosome AF.”

In this essay collection, Robinson speaks frankly about what it’s like to be black, to be female, and to be a black female. I really appreciate her insight, incredibly valid points, and smart sense of humor. Her narration had me LOLing. She’s got me feeling XX chromosome AF!
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why I picked this up: #DiverseAThon + the cover! Also, it looked like it would be a funny read but at the same time a good dose of truth.

Did it deliver: YES.
- She has a chapter on hair, and she continues to talk about black culture as well as how she got into comedy and writing.
- She writes a letter to the future female POTUS and several letters to her young niece.
- She is so very, very funny. And honest. She talks openly about things that have happened because people judged her based on her
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-non-fiction
A fun, smart, & witty collection of essay's about class & black feminism. It was not laugh out loud funny but it was definitely funny in a real & relatable way. I highly recommend it. ...more
This was definitely an interesting book. And I have a few thoughts so let me go ahead and lay them out:

-Do no be misguided into thinking that this book is solely about hair. It does have sections on hair; however, for the most part this book is definitely more about the experience of black women in America. She also touches on women in general, but for the most part it does focus on what it's like to grow up, live, and attempt to be successful when you are a black woman.
-This book does have so
Alana Benjamin
*I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways*

Two things.
1. I think this book would be better consumed as an audiobook because the jokes, colloquialisms and popular culture references would land better and be better understood in the overall context of the short stories.

2. If you are unfamiliar with TV, movie and music references in the past 30 years, most of the references will probably go over your head.

That being said, I felt that this book had more misses than hits. The first
Some hits right on target, but a lot of misses too. I enjoyed her stories of childhood and her work as a comedian, and the internet LOLspeak and copious pop culture references started cute and funny, and by pg 100 were "annoying AF". Robinson is a brilliant critic and observer, but the writing style took away from that. Unfortunately, her important words won't age well due to this fact.

I'm going with 3 stars on this, the audiobook, specifically.

First, though, I hope Phoebe appreciates that this is #69 on my Biographical shelf. I feel that some of her humor is juvenile enough for that to make some sort of impact.

Ok, so all of you who are familiar with Phoebe Robinson, like if you've read her blog or listened to the podcast she does with her work-wife, Jessica Williams, are already well aware of her communication style.
I went into this blind because I am an old person and not h
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson wasn't the book for me. I picked it up from the library on a whim, based on enthusiasm from Litsy users. Although I appreciated the look into a young African-American woman's life, her writing style left me cold. I guess I'm too old for hashtags and other such things in books.

It's odd that Robinson's use of her own vernacular or dialect didn't affect me the same way as Zora Neale Hurston's. It rang less true somehow, despite its nonfiction usage. Serio
Renée | Book Girl Magic
This book was a disappointment and a miss for me. After about the first 30% of the book, it became very cliché for me with lots of rambling about nothing in between. I so wanted to love this book and walk away feeling empowered like I did with Brittney Cooper’s Eloquent Rage but sadly I was not.

In all honesty, the book left me confused most of the time. From Letters to the Future President to mentions of the NFL to letters to her niece, I couldn’t understand what Phoebe wanted readers to take aw
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PHOEBE ROBINSON is a stand-up comedian, writer, and actress whom, 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 Dic ...more

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“At the time of this writing, Donald Trump seeks the Republican nomination supported largely by a bunch of angry white people who sense where history is going and DO NOT LIKE IT AT ALL and are therefore hoping that if they punch and shove enough brown people, it will fix it. Perhaps when you read this, Donald Trump will be president or maybe superking. But even if that happens, he shall pass. Time does not go backward.” 26 likes
“And maybe they don’t because they’re under the misapprehension that because I talk about race a lot, that I must love talking about it. I don’t. And I’ll let you in on a little secret about what other black people rarely say: Explaining your life to a world that doesn’t care to listen is often more draining than living in it.” 9 likes
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