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Don't Touch My Hair

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  2,511 ratings  ·  355 reviews
'Groundbreaking . . . a scintillating, intellectual investigation into black women and the very serious business of our hair, as it pertains to race, gender, social codes, tradition, culture, cosmology, maths, politics, philosophy and history' Bernardine Evaristo

From women's solidarity and friendship to forgotten African scholars and the dubious provenance of Kim Kardashia
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Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 5th 2020 by Penguin (first published May 2nd 2019)
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Average rating 4.31  · 
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Bookishrealm
4.5 Stars. What a powerful book! I mean if you know anything about the Black hair experience than you know how phenomenal this book is

Twisted: The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture is Emma Dabiri's take and insight to the complex world that is Black hair. This book not only focuses on her own personal experience, but also the beautiful yet sometimes heartbreaking history that Black people have with their hair. While it may insignificant to most, Black hair culture is a complex, dynamic part
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Mandy
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intelligent, thoughtful and thought-provoking, I found this a truly riveting read. It’s an exploration of black women’s (mainly) hair and for me it was jaw-dropping and eye-opening (to mix metaphors) at the same time. I never realised that hair could be such a complex, multi-layered and political subject. Because as the book states, black hair is never “just hair”, and this brilliantly and convincingly argued account demonstrates this with clarity, meticulous research and personal reflection and ...more
Aoife - Bookish_Babbling
4.25*

A little text'booky at times, but the historical intricacies tied up (no pun intended) in hair is honestly fascinating while also upsetting and infuriating at how belittled and looked down upon the beautiful hairstyles continue to be.

Dabiri touches on so many topics that my mind is buzzing with the need to do my own deep dives & research more if I can, not least the somewhat hidden role the Irish played in slavery, the Orisha beliefs (I don't think mythology is the right word), the Oyo Empi
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BookOfCinz
As a young child, I spent long hours on the floor wedged between the strong legs of strangers, my head cradled in their lap. These early childhood memories are vague in detail but strong in atmosphere.

Emma Dabiri left no stones unturned with regards to the history of Black Hair culture and how it continues to affect us today. It is clear she did her research and lived the experiences that she writes so knowledgeably about. I learned so much reading this book. While the grounding topic was hair
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Korrie’s Korner
Nov 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-voices
4.5-5 stars.

“I remember being told that I was “lucky I was pretty,” which meant I could “almost get away with being black.”

What a powerful statement this is. I remember being told things very similar to this being raised in the Deep South of Mississippi.

This book was so good as it broke down the history of black hair, injustices that black women have faced, and the feeling of our hair being a bit “taboo” to others that were different than us. Emma Dabiri takes us through her personal historical
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Aoife
KNOWLEDGE!!

What a fantastic book that is so eye-opening and captivating, and so, so well put together. The way Emma Dabiri has managed to write a book that is themed around hair -specifically hair of a black woman - and connect it to so many issues today such as racism of old, systematic racism now, European fetishization of black bodies, hair and culture while black woman are punished.

I honestly know so much more than I did before - not only about what hair truly means for a black person but ho
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Siria
A fascinating and powerful read, Don't Touch My Hair looks at the history, culture, and politics which surround Black hair, and the ways in which white people have stigmatised (and continue to stigmatise) Afro-textured hair. It's a book about why Black hair matters.

Emma Dabiri—born to a white Irish woman and an ethnically Yoruba Nigerian man, and raised mostly in Ireland—engages with both parts of her heritage, demonstrating the stunning fractal complexity of the indigenous Yoruba hairstyles kn
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Mina
"Don't touch my crown
They say the vision I've found
Don't touch what's there
When it's the feelings I wear."


I'll always remember the first time someone put their hands on my hair and said it looked like black cotton candy. It was my first summer here, I was just shy of 20 and all alone in a foreign country. So, a bunch of us were in group study and this 'person' just puts his hand in my high puff for a good couple of seconds just feeling it and all I could do was just sit there in that stuffy lec
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Tasnim (Reads.and.Reveries)
In Don’t Touch My Hair, Emma Dabiri, an Irish-Nigeraian television presenter and teaching fellow at SOAS University, takes readers on a journey exploring the history of black hair from pre-colonial Africa to today’s Natural Hair Movement.
Dabiri considers black hairstyles, their meanings, cultural origins and significance. However, what I hadn’t anticipated was the extent to which she considers our hair in relation to mathematics, philosophy, politics and economics, and I particularly appreciated
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Justin
Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
***I was granted an ARC of this via Netgalley from the publisher.***

Black hair had been looked down on in the West for a long time with negative attitudes widespread in the white and black communities. However, over the last 40 some odd years this has changed. In the book, Twisted: The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture, Emma Dabiri through a series of essays talks about not only her own experience of being a half black, half white girl growing up in Ireland at a time when there weren't many
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M.  [storme reads a lot]
This book was very eye opening and taught me a lot about the history of black hair. This was a subject I had never really given much thought to, despite the fact this is also my hair type. However, this book looks at how society has viewed black hair as lesser and unclean compared to white hair. Learning the history was very interesting because it showed me how much of society and what they believed was ingrained within me. I was taught by society to think my natural hair was gross and messy, so ...more
Esme Kemp
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think very possibly the best book I’ve read in 2019.
Well written, incredibly well researched and academic but didn’t lose humour or personality.
Not a bad word to say about it. And I’m still reeling about some of those complex fractal braid patterns! I can’t even get a plait to stay in my “lank, thin, greasy” hair 😫😫😫
Anne Griffin
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic academic, yet very accessible, work on the history of black hair, its styles, its needs and how hair is a cultural expression of a community. This is a must read for historians and those interested in sociology and racism. Excellently written and compelling throughout.
CC
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Growing up mixed race often feels like a minority within a minority. You can be made keenly aware of your otherness, and that may give you feelings that you don't belong, not enough of any one thing to be truly that. The things that chimed with me in this book I remember as moments that filtered down to me as a child because of other people and their own biases. Being called 'yellowbone', told how pretty my skin was, the surprise that I 'speak so well'. Growing up, when my music instructor thoug ...more
Anna
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I really enjoyed this book... for a while. I felt it could have been about half the length and laboured the point. It also became a bit too academic and dry as it went on. But some great analysis and ideas, but even a relatively short audiobook lost my attention towards the end.
Amanda Hupe
Thank you, Emma Dabiri and Harper Perennial for the opportunity to read this book!

Twisted: The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture by Emma Dabiri is a collection of essays about the history, culture, and racism surrounding Black hair. Black hair has a beautiful history that has been erased by European history. Today, Black hair is still a source of discrimination. It is stigmatized and appropriated. Emma Dabiri begins by giving her background. She is Black and Irish, with “tightly coiled hair.
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Abbie | ab_reads
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I read this book based off Tasnim's @reads.and.reveries and Enobong's @enobooks reviews, and it was a good decision! I listened to the audiobook via my library's audiobook app (the best thing ever), and Emma Dabiri reads it herself. She lays down the facts surrounding Black women's hair, structural racism, and history that's all too often glossed over, but it never feels dry.
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I think if I read it again I would definitely go for a physical copy, as some sections were quite complex and layered and
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Book Minded Mag
Read this book. It is VITALLY important if you want to understand how black hair has been weaponized, criminalized, appropriated and used to discriminate against black people since slavery. READ. THIS. BOOK.
Christian
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolute education, a must read. I can't stress enough how fantastic this is from all angles. Amazingly written, researched and thought provoking. ...more
Katheryn Thompson
I have to admit that this book wasn't quite what I was expecting it to be. Dabiri starts off by talking about her own life, but, although she often writes in first person, her own experiences are not the driving force of the book. I tend to find that the best non-fiction is personal, because that's what makes it unique. While everything Dabiri wrote about was interesting, and I learnt lots of information, I kept wondering why she was the one telling the story. If it's not an objective study, esp ...more
L A
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to Penguin Books UK and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

Full disclosure, I am a white woman and I know this book wasn't written for me. Please excuse any mistakes I may make in my review, I come from a position of almost complete ignorance on this subject.

To say this is a book about hair would be far too simplistic. It’s part social history, part memoir and explores issues and themes around personal and cultural identity and self-worth. The author
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Anna Morgenstern
This is a well-researched, eloquent exploration of the African hair, it's incredibly interesting, I learnt a lot. The only thing I didn't like was the last (few?) chapters which were a bit out of context and irrelevant to the topic. ...more
Kat
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the U.S. edition of Don’t Touch My Hair. The wording is almost exactly the same. Trust me, I’ve read both versions.
Shoshanna
Jan 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-non-fiction
I saw this had a starred review in Kirkus Reviews and I thought it would be an interesting look at the way Black hair is treated in society.

OK, so I got that but I got a whole lot more. This is actually an incredibly deep and broad book. Emma Dabiri, a Black woman who grew up in Ireland, talks about her experience as a child and teenager, but that's just the start. "Twisted" looks at the ways that hair is in many ways more racialized than skin color, and that colorism is more based on hair textu
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girlwiththebookshelves
4,5 stars- not a whole 5 because sometimes, this book jumps from topic to topic and it gets a bit hard to follow.
Vanessa Maderová
May 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Postcolonial theory, intersectional feminism and Critical Theory basics tied up together very nicely into an engaging memoir/essay. Understandably, the book's charged with emotion, so the sporadic slipping into pathos and (what seemed like) romanticised imageries of Africa couldn't have been avoided. I guess. ...more
Emily O’Dowd
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was completely blown away by this book. It's not often we hear from the Black Irish perspective, and Emma Dabiri gave us insight into that experience, along with so much more. I expected to love this book, but I didn't anticipate just how much in-depth insight into the spirituality, customs, and politics around black hair I would gain. I also definitely wasn't expecting such a thorough dismantling of the capitalist, globalist, exploitative society we live in. This is a book I will be returning ...more
Marc Faoite
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thought-provoking read that increases humanity's understanding of itself.

This was a very interesting and informative book, using Black hair both as a subject and as a prism to examine the culture, history, and politics of Blackness.

It is a serious, thoughtful book that educates without talking down to the reader and will be of interest to readers across the spectrum, though perhaps in different ways depending on the reader's background.

One of the themes is a preference within the Black commun
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Molly
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastically written, fantastically researched and an essential read for everyone.
Piper
Dec 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After the initial reading slump I face with this book I thoroughly enjoyed it! So glad I’ve finally read it and I certainly think many of the ideas raised will stay with me. As a mixed race person with hair so different from the black people in my family it was insightful and eye opening, would certainly recommend.
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Emma Dabiri is an Irish-Nigerian author, academic, and broadcaster. Her debut book, Don't Touch My Hair, was first published in 2019.
Dabiri is a frequent contributor to print and online media, including The Guardian, Irish Times, Dublin Inquirer, Vice, and in academic journals. She is known for her outspokenness on issues of race and racism.
She now lives in London, where she is completing her PhD
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